What is Encryption and Cryptography?

Encryption and Making Your System Secure

What is encryption or cryptographic?

Encryption is the process of converting information into coding (ciphertext or cyphertext) form original human readable form.

Encryption and cryptographic software have been used in many different ways to make systems more secure. We will discuss only a few ways that can make your system more secure, including:

1) Encrypting your email

2) Encrypting your files

There are many more programs out there that will help encrypt information, but here we will discuss few from them. They have the added benefit of both being free with source code available.

Will encryption stop people from accessing my information?

No, Encryption simply makes it harder for people to gain access to important information, like passwords or sensitive information in a file. The first thing you should know about encryption is that the algorithm that is used to encrypt can be simple or more complex and that affects how securely what you have encrypted is protected.  Encryption systems have been broken when the method of encryption is understood by hackers and is easy to break. 

What is encrypting your email:

Email is less secure than paper mail because electronic data can be accessed easily over an Internet and electronic data is really simple to copy. Data security is so important thing to consider.

Encrypting your email is a process where email content is being secured from outsiders looking to get access to the user’s information. Contents of the email are converted into a code to protect it against any malicious threats. Once the email is encrypted, it will no longer be readable by a human. Only with your private email key can the email be unlocked and decrypted back to its original message.

There are various protocols used for encrypting emails:

  1. TLS (Transport Layer Security) which is used by email providers like Google or Microsoft where it secures email while it is in transit.
  2. End-to-end email encryption certifies that email contents are encrypted by the sender and ensures it can only be decrypted by the intended receiver. With end-to-end encryption, emails are guaranteed secure at every step of the delivery. There are two methods where an organization can implement end-to-end encryption:
  • PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) (http://www.pgpi.org/) self-describes itself this way: This is an email encryption solution where it masks your email content before sending them. Each user with an email address has a pair of keys to encrypt and decrypt an email. One is tied to your email address and can be accessed by anyone, and the other is a private key that is not publicly shared.
  • S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) is mostly like PGP where it uses public-key cryptography to secure email, however, the difference between the two is, S/MIME uses digital certificates instead of keys. Digital certificates are a bunch of code provided by a Certificate Authority (CA).

What is file encryption?

File encryption is one of the most effective security solutions

What does it mean to encrypt a file?

If you have financial data with important information like social security numbers, email addresses, account numbers and passwords, then you open yourself up to losing very valuable information. As long as you are connected to the Internet you are vulnerable. File encryption is a way of encoding files, including the sensitive data they contain, in order to send them securely.

How do I go about encrypting my files?

Encryption generally takes place through the use of keys. The art of encrypting and decrypting sensitive data with keys is known as cryptography. It takes two main forms — symmetric and asymmetric cryptography.

Asymmetric or public-key cryptography is popular among many companies. These encryption systems use both a public key and a private key. Anyone with the public key can use it to encrypt files. However, only users with the private key can decrypt the files, so the files remain safe from unauthorized access.

Symmetric encryption uses a single private key for encryption and decryption. The two parties exchanging information through symmetric encryption must exchange keys to decrypt the encoded files. Symmetric encryption is generally faster and more efficient than asymmetric encryption. Organizations usually use this method when they need to encrypt information in bulk — such as an entire database.

Let’s take look at a few popular encryption methods: 

  • PGP
  • Open PGP
  • Zip with AES

What is file encryption software?

File encryption software is a software platform that uses encoding solutions to prevent unauthorized access to your files.

AxCrypt File Encryption Software (http://axcrypt.sourceforge.net/) Self-described as “Free Personal Privacy and Security for Windows 98/ME/NT/2K/XP with AES-128 File Encryption, Compression and transparent Decrypt and Open in the original application.”

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