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Using a VPN is a great way to shield your internet traffic when you're traveling, but it's not a solution for encrypting your regional files. .
When the FBI needed information from the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, they asked Apple for a back door to get beyond the encryption. But no such back door existed, and Apple refused to create one. The FBI needed to employ hackers to get into the phone.
Why wouldn't Apple help Because the moment a back door or comparable hack exists, it becomes a target, a prize for the bad guys. It will leak sooner or later. In a discussion at Black Hat this past summer, Apple's Ivan Krstic revealed that the company has done something similar in their cryptographic servers.
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Apple can't update thembut the bad guys can't get in either. .
All of the products in this roundup explicitly say that they have no back door, and that's as it should be. It does mean that in the event you encrypt an essential document and then forget that the encryption password, you have lost it for good.
Back in the day, in the event that you wanted to keep a document secret you could use a cipher to encrypt it and then burn the original. Or you could lock it up in a safe. The two main approaches in encryption utilities parallel these options.
One type of product simply processes files and folders, turning them into impenetrable encrypted versions of these. Another creates a virtual disc drive that, when open, behaves like any other drive on your system. When you lock the digital drive, all the documents you put into it's entirely inaccessible. .
Like the virtual drive solution, a few products store your encrypted data in the cloud. This strategy demands extreme care, obviously. Encrypted data in the cloud has a far bigger attack surface than encrypted data on your own PC.
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Which is better It really depends on how you plan on using encryption. If you're not sure, take advantage of this 30-day free trial offered by each of these products to get a feel for the different options.
After you copy a file into secure storage, or make an encrypted version of it, then you absolutely need to wipe out the unencrypted original. Just deleting it isn't sufficient, even if you bypass the Recycle Bin, because the data still exists on disc, and data retrieval utilities can often get it back. .
Some encryption products prevent this issue by encrypting the file in location, literally overwriting it on disk with an encrypted version. It is more common, however, to offer safe deletion as an option. If you choose something that lacks this attribute, you should find a free secure deletion tool to use along with it. .
Overwriting information before deletion is sufficient to balk software-based retrieval tools. Hardware-based forensic recovery functions because the magnetic recording of information on a hard drive isn't actually digital. It is more of a waveform. In simple terms, the process involves nulling out the known information and reading around the edges of what is left.
An encryption algorithm is similar to a black box. Dump a document, image, or other document into it, and you get back what seems like gibberish. Run that gibberish back via the box, using the same password, and you get back the original.
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The U.S. government has settled on Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as a standard, and every one of the merchandise gathered here service AES. Even those that support other algorithms tend to recommend using AES.
If you're an encryption specialist, you may prefer another algorithm, Blowfish, perhaps, or even the Soviet government's GOST. For the typical user, however, AES is just fine.
Passwords are important, and you have to keep them secret, right Well, not when you use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) cryptography.
With PKI, you receive two keys. One is public; you can share it with anyone, enroll it in an integral exchange, tattoo it on your foreheadwhatever you like. Another is private, and needs to be closely guarded. If I want to send you a key Resources document, I simply encrypt it with your public key.
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Using this program in reverse, you can create an electronic signature that shows that your document came from you and hasn't been altered. How Just encrypt it with your private key. The simple fact that your public key decrypts it's all the evidence you need. PKI support is less common than support for traditional symmetric algorithms. .
If you want to talk about a file with someone and your encryption application doesn't support PKI, there are other options for sharing. Many products enable creation of a self-decrypting executable file. You may also find that the recipient can use a complimentary, decryption-only tool.