Anyone who keeps sensitive information on their computer needs file encryption. For instance, if you store tax forms, legal documents, or financial records on your computer, encrypting your files is a good way to protect them from a virus or hacker. Encrypting is doubly crucial for your business files. If you run a small business and store client information, your clients expect you to keep their data safe, and the best way to preserve their trust is through encryption.
File encryptionworks by scrambling your information so nobody can read it without a key. By scrambling, we mean that encryption takes a normally readable message that you want to save or send and transforms it from plaintext into ciphertext. As the information owner, you can unscramble the data using a password, biometric information, or something else that functions as the “key.” The best file encryption uses astronomically complex methods for encrypting computer files and data so that it’s virtually impossible for hackers to decode without the key.
The Advantages of Encrypting Sensitive Files on Your Computer
● Encrypting sensitive files keeps them private. Requiring a password to login into your computer is an excellent way to keep your roommate from snooping on you, but there are other ways for hackers to copy files from your computer. For instance, hackers can gain remote access to your computer without you even knowing about it.
● Encrypted files are secure all the time. In general, data is most open to attack when it’s moved from one location to another. File encryption functions both when data is still and when it’s being transferred.
● Encryption prevents fraud. Encrypting your data isn’t just about preventing it from being stolen. Encryption also ensures that your data’s integrity remains intact. This is because when you encrypt your files, you ensure that hackers can’t alter the information.
● Encryption keeps you compliant. There are many industries where encryption is mandatory. For example, HIPAA and FIPS require their businesses to use encryption to protect their data.
The Disadvantages of File Encryption
● If you forget your password, you may never recover your data. A password is required to both encrypt and decrypt your files. If you forget this password, you may lose your files forever. However, it’s not a good idea to choose an easy-to-guess password as this makes your files vulnerable to being hacked.
● It might make you look suspicious. If you encrypt files at work or home, your boss or spouse may become curious about why you are protecting specific files by making them inaccessible.
As you can see, the advantages of file encryption far outweigh the disadvantages. Essentially, if you want to make sure that your personal, private data is inaccessible to outsiders, you need to use encryption. So, let’s look at how you can go about encrypting your files.
How to Encrypt Your Files
There are lots of ways to encrypt files on your computer, including many free options. However, before you can do any encryption, you need to decide which files need protection.
If you don’t have a lot of sensitive data on your computer, it’s best to use a program that lets you encrypt files or folders individually. However, as a general rule, you should encrypt any file or folder with personally identifiable information or containing images or data you wouldn’t want to be made public.
A second option is to encrypt your entire hard drive or else a large portion of it. Although this seems like the more straightforward solution, you need to remember that you lose all your files if you lose your password. However, if you want to encrypt your entire hard drive, you should back up the information regularly on an unencrypted but securely stored external hard drive. This means one that is not hooked up to an internet-connected device.
Encryption is Protection
When you encrypt files, folders, or your hard drive, you’re taking an essential step in protecting your personal and business information. As a result, you’ll be protected from identity theft or lawsuits from clients. However, it’s only one of the many steps you should take to protect your data.
For instance, you need to use strong, unique passwords. Additionally, wherever possible, you should enable two-factor authentication. Lastly, you should monitor your credit reports, public records, and the web to ensure that none of your personal or business data has been released.