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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 regional files. .

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

Why wouldn't Apple help Since the moment a back door or comparable hack is different, it becomes a goal, a decoration 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. .

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All the products in this roundup explicitly say that they have no back door, and that is as it should be. It does mean that in the event you encrypt an essential document and then forget the encryption password, you've lost it for good.

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

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

Like the digital drive solution, a few products save your encrypted data in the cloud. This approach demands extreme caution, obviously. Encrypted data in the cloud has a far larger attack surface than encrypted data on your own PC.

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

After you copy a file into secure storage, or make an encrypted version of it, you absolutely need to wipe out the unencrypted original. Just deleting it isn't sufficient, even if you skip the Recycle Bin, because the data still exists on disc, and data recovery utilities can often return back. .

Some encryption products avoid this issue by encrypting the document in place, literally overwriting it on disc using an encrypted version. It is more common, however, to offer secure deletion as an option. If you choose a product that lacks this feature, 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 works because the magnetic recording of information on a hard drive isn't actually digital. It is more of a waveform. In simple terms, the procedure involves nulling out the known data and reading around the borders of what's left.

An encryption algorithm is similar to 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 all the products gathered here support AES. Even the ones that support other calculations tend to recommend using AES.

If you are an encryption specialist, you may prefer another algorithm, Blowfish, possibly, 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, register it in an integral exchange, i thought about this tattoo it on your foreheadwhatever you like. The other is personal, and needs to be closely 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 system in reverse, you can create an electronic signature which proves your document came from you and hasn't been modified. How Just encrypt it with your private key. The simple fact your public key decrypts it's all the proof 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 tool doesn't support PKI, there are different options for sharing. Many products enable creation of a self-decrypting executable file. You may also find that the recipient can use a complimentary, decryption-only tool.

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