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Using a VPN is a terrific way to protect your internet traffic when you're traveling, but it is not a solution for encrypting your local files. .

When the FBI needed information from the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, they asked Apple to get a rear door to get beyond the encryption. But no such back door existed, and Apple refused to make one. The FBI had to employ hackers to get into the phone.

Why wouldn't Apple help Since the moment a rear door or similar hack is different, it becomes a goal, a decoration for the bad guys. It'll flow 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 them, but the bad guys can't get in either. .

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Each the products in this roundup explicitly state they have no back door, and that's as it should be. It will mean that if you encrypt an essential document and then forget that the encryption password, you've lost it for good.

Back in the day, if you wanted to keep a document key you can use a cipher to encrypt it and then burn the original. Or you could lock it up in a protected. The two main approaches in encryption utilities parallel those options.

One sort of product simply processes files and folders, turning them into impenetrable encrypted versions of these. The other creates a virtual disc that, when open, acts like any other drive on your system. When you lock the digital drive, each the documents that you put into it's entirely inaccessible. .

Like the virtual drive solution, a few products save your encrypted data in the cloud. This approach requires extreme care, obviously. Encrypted data in the cloud has a much larger attack surface than encrypted data on your own PC.

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That is better It actually depends on how you plan to use encryption. If you are not sure, take advantage of the 30-day free trial provided by each of those products to have a sense of the different options.

After you copy a document into protected storage, or make an encrypted version of it, you absolutely need to wipe the unencrypted original. Simply deleting it isn't sufficient, even if you bypass the Recycle Bin, since the information still exists on disk, and data retrieval utilities can often get it back. .

Some encryption products prevent this problem by encrypting the document in place, literally overwriting it on disk using an encrypted version. It's more common, however, to offer secure deletion as an option. If you select a product that lacks this feature, you ought to find a free secure deletion tool to use along with it. .

Overwriting data before deletion is sufficient to balk software-based retrieval tools. Hardware-based forensic recovery works 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 information and reading around the edges of what is left.

An encryption algorithm is like a black box. Dump a document, image, or other have a peek at this site document into it, and you get back what sounds like gibberish. Run that gibberish back through the box, with the exact 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 every one the products gathered here service AES. Even those that support other algorithms tend to recommend using AES.

If you are an encryption specialist, you might 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 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 prefer. The other is personal, and needs to be closely guarded. If I want to send you a key document, I just encrypt it with your public key.

Simple! .

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Using this program in reverse, you can create a digital signature that proves 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 service is less common than service for traditional symmetric algorithms. .

If you want to share a file with someone and your encryption application doesn't support PKI, there are different options for sharing. Many products allow creation of a self-decrypting executable file. You could also find that the recipient can use a complimentary, decryption-only tool.

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