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Using a VPN is a great way to shield your internet traffic when you're traveling, but it is not a solution for encrypting your regional files. .

When the FBI needed information from the San Bernardino shot's iPhone, they asked Apple for 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 decoration for the poor 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 thembut the bad guys can't get in either. .

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

Back in the day, if you wanted to maintain a document secret you could use a cipher to encrypt it and then burn the original. Or you might lock it up in a safe. The two main methods in encryption utilities parallel these options.

One sort of product simply procedures files and folders, turning them into impenetrable encrypted versions of themselves. Another creates a virtual disk drive that, when open, behaves like any other drive on your system. When you lock the digital drive, all the files that you put into it are entirely inaccessible. .

Like the virtual drive solution, some goods store your encrypted data in the cloud. This strategy requires extreme caution, obviously. Encrypted information in the cloud has a far bigger attack surface than encrypted data on your own PC.

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

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

Some encryption products prevent this issue by encrypting the file in place, literally overwriting it on disk with an encrypted version. It is more common, however, to provide secure 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 information before deletion is sufficient to balk software-based recovery tools. Hardware-based forensic recovery functions because the magnetic recording of information on a hard drive isn't actually digital. It's more of a waveform. In simple terms, the process involves nulling out the known information and reading around the edges of what's left.

An encryption algorithm is like a black box. Dump a document, picture, or other file 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 settled on Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as a standard, and every one the merchandise accumulated here service AES. Even those that support other calculations tend to recommend using AES.

If you are an encryption expert, you might want another algorithm, Blowfish, possibly, or the Soviet government's GOST. For the typical consumer, however, AES is just fine.

Passwords are important, and you have to keep them secret, right Well, not when click now you use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) cryptography.

With PKI, you get two keys. One is public; you can discuss it with anyone, register it in an integral exchange, tattoo it on your foreheadwhatever you like. The other is private, and should be carefully guarded. If I want to send you a secret document, I just encrypt it with your public key.

Simple! .

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Using this program in reverse, you can create an electronic signature which shows that 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's all of the evidence you need. PKI service is less common than support for traditional symmetric algorithms. .

If you want to talk about a document with someone and your encryption application doesn't support PKI, there are other 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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