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Using a VPN is a great way to protect your internet traffic when you are traveling, but it's not a solution for encrypting your local files. .
When the FBI needed information from the San Bernardino shot's iPhone, they asked Apple to get a rear door to get past the encryption. But no such back door existed, and Apple refused to make one. The FBI needed to employ hackers to get into the phone.
Why wouldn't Apple help Because the moment a back door or similar hack is different, it will become a target, a prize for the poor guys. It'll leak sooner or later. In a talk at Black Hat this past summer, Apple's Ivan Krstic revealed 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. .
Back in the day, if you wanted to keep a document secret you can use a cipher to encrypt it and then burn the original. Or you might lock it up in a protected. The two main methods in encryption utilities parallel those options.
One type of product simply procedures files and folders, turning them into impenetrable encrypted versions of themselves. The other creates a virtual disk drive that, when open, acts like any other drive on your system. When you lock the virtual drive, all of the documents that you put into it's entirely inaccessible. .
Similar to the virtual drive solution, some goods store your encrypted information in the cloud. This approach demands extreme care, obviously. Encrypted information in the cloud has a far larger attack surface than encrypted data on your own PC.
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Which is better It actually depends on how you plan on using encryption. If you're not sure, take advantage of the 30-day free trial offered by each of these products to get a sense of the different options.
After you copy a document into protected storage, or make an encrypted version of it, then you definitely need to wipe out the unencrypted original. Simply deleting it isn't sufficient, even if you skip the Recycle Bin, because the data still exists on disk, and data recovery utilities can often get it back. .
Some encryption products avoid this problem by encrypting the file in find place, literally overwriting it on disk with an encrypted version. It is more common, however, to provide 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 data before deletion is sufficient to balk software-based recovery tools. Hardware-based forensic retrieval functions since the magnetic recording of data on a hard drive isn't actually digital. It is more of a waveform. In simple terms, the process involves nulling out the known data and reading around the borders of what is left.
An encryption algorithm is similar to a black box. Dump a document, image, or other file into it, and you get back what sounds like gibberish. Run that gibberish back via the box, with the same password, and you get back the original.
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The U.S. government has depended on Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as a standard, and all of the products accumulated here service AES. Even the ones that support other algorithms tend to recommend using AES.
If you're an encryption specialist, you might want another algorithm, Blowfish, perhaps, or the Soviet government's GOST. For the average user, however, AES is just fine.
Passwords are important, and you must keep them confidential, right Well, not when you use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) cryptography.
With PKI, you receive two keys. One is public; you can discuss it with anyone, enroll it in a key exchange, tattoo it on your foreheadwhatever you like. The other is private, and should be closely guarded. If I want to send you a secret document, I simply encrypt it with your public key.
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Using this system in reverse, you can make a digital signature which proves your document came from you and hasn't been altered. How Just encrypt it with your private key. The simple fact your public key decrypts it is all of the proof you need. PKI service is less common than service for traditional symmetric algorithms. .
If you want to share a document with someone and your encryption tool doesn't support PKI, there are different options for sharing. Many products enable creation of a self-decrypting executable file. You could also find that the recipient can use a free, decryption-only tool.