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In today's digital age, sensitive information is constantly being shared and transmitted over various electronic devices and networks. Whether it's personal information like social security numbers and financial information like card information, or business information like trade secrets and client data, it's important to ensure that this information is kept secure and protected from unauthorized access. One of the most effective ways to do this is through encryption.
Encryption is the process of converting plain text or data into an unreadable format using an encryption algorithm, which can only be deciphered or decrypted by those who have the decryption key. This ensures that if the file or email is intercepted or accessed by unauthorized users, they will not be able to read the information.
In cybersecurity, encryption plays a crucial role in ensuring data confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity. In day-to-day life, encryption is used in various ways to make life easier for the common man. For example, encryption is used in online transactions to protect the user's financial information from being intercepted and stolen by hackers. Encryption is also used in messaging and email applications to protect the privacy of conversations and messages from being read by unauthorized users.
Why encrypt files and Emails?
It is important for computer users to encrypt their files and emails because they may contain sensitive information that could be intercepted or accessed by unauthorized users. Encryption adds an extra layer of security to protect against the risks. Encryption ensures that even if the information is intercepted by a malicious user, it is unreadable and unusable. This can prevent the loss of sensitive data.
Encryption is becoming more important for organisations in order to comply with privacy and data protection regulations like GDPR, PCI-DSS, and HIPAA. These regulations require businesses to take steps to protect sensitive data, and failure to comply can result in legal and financial penalties. Encrypting emails and files can save individuals and organisations from various cyberthreats such as identity theft, financial fraud etc., as well encryption ensures the confidentiality and integrity of data.
How to encrypt files:
Here are some steps you can follow to encrypt files:
- Identify the file you want to encrypt, it can be any file such as document, image, video etc.
- Choose the encryption software, there are various tools available alongside built in encryption features in Windows and MacOS. Some popular encryption tools available are Veracrypt, 7-zip, GnuPG, AxCrypt. Proceed with the installation of the tool you chose.
- Browse the file which you want to encrypt in the encryption tool you installed.
- Choose the encryption algorithm, you can choose as per your needs from algorithms given in the tool, such as AES, blowfish etc.
- Now, encryption tool will ask you to create a passphrase or password, which will be used to encrypt and decrypt the file. Choose a strong and complex password. Keep the password safe since it is the key to decrypt the file and avoid sharing it with anyone.
- After choosing the password, start the encryption process within the encryption tool. Time consumed for encrypting files may vary based on file size and encryption algorithm chosen.
- Once the encryption process is complete, the encrypted will be saved with a new file extension depending on the encryption tool used.
By following these steps, you can encrypt your files and protect sensitive information from unauthorized access and interception.
How to encrypt E-mails:
Encrypting emails is another effective way to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or interception. Here are some steps to follow to encrypt emails:
- There are various email encryption tools and software available, including PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions).
- Once you have chosen an email encryption tool, you will need to install the tool and configure it to work with your email account with the steps provided in documentation of the tool. There are also extensions available for PGP and other encryption algorithms available to configure it easily for your email.
- After setting up your email encryption account, compose your email as usual. While composing your email, you can encrypt it using the tool you choose, this usually involves selecting the option to encrypt the email and choosing the public key of recipient. Choosing the recipient’s public key while encrypting the email will ensure that the recipient is able to decrypt the email using their private key.
- Once the email is encrypted, you can send it as usual. The recipient will need to have the corresponding private key to decrypt the email and view its contents.
Encrypting files and emails is a critical tool in protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access, interception, and tampering. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that your files and emails are encrypted using strong encryption algorithms and passwords or passphrases, and that your sensitive information is kept secure and protected.