Initially it was considered too unwieldy, an inconvience that would cause system performance to suffer but encryption has come a long way. It's much easier, doesn't seriously affect systems performance and protects against some of the major problems that computer users are facing such as snooping, hackers, cybercrime and tracking. Here are 4 ways that you can integrate encryption into your everday life and drastically improve your security.
Encryption isn't a product of the tech age, it has been used in different forms throughout the ages to make sure that only the intended receipent was able to read the message. The message could still be intercepted but the contents would be useless to anyone except it's intended recipient. Not long after the start of the digital age, digital encryption became necassary to protect large networks and the communications of numerous companies and organisations. Unfortunately the security benefits of encryption hasn't reached millions of regular computers users. But with a little effort you can integrate encryption into your day to day life to improve your security.
1. Encrypt your documents
It's one of the original uses of encryption, to protect the contents of important documents from those who are not authorised to view them. Encrypting documents doesn't have to make them difficult to access them, usually a password is sufficient to access the documents. Important documents that you don't access regularly are the sort of things that should be encrypted. This could be documents with important financial or personal information but really anything you want to prevent others from seeing. It's also a good idea to encrypt an important document that is being stored in the cloud, there are added risks to cloud storage that can be accessed from numerous locations and devices. There are numerous programmes available that can easily encrypt documents, even the free and very common programme 7zip which is usually used for opening zip files can encrypt files and whole folders.
2. Encrypt your devices
You may have a password on your phone or laptop, but without encryption there are still ways that people could access your data, particularly if they had stolen your device. Encrypting a device makes it pretty much impossible for people to access your data. Modern devices performance would not suffer after being encrypted. Encrypting your phone doesn't make it anymore difficult to use as you still just use a regular PIN to access the phone. It's more difficult to encrypt computers particularly windows computers, but it should be sufficient to encrypt the most important documents and encrypt your network traffic when connected to the internet. If you have a linux based operating system such as ubuntu it's easy to encrypt the laptop while installing the operating system.
You could also consider encrypting an individual device such a flash drive to put very important documents on or even an emergency flash drive that might contain backups of passwords and other important stuff that is kept in a secure location in case you lose that data. But be careful encrypting the data will stop people from reading it, but it probably won't stop them from deleting it.
3. Encrypt your communications
Encrypting emails isn't difficult, there are numerous add ons for the most common programmes such as Thunderbird. There are also browser add ons that will enable the encryption of emails in gmail, yahoo and others. The programmes require the recipient of the email to also have the same programme so you can share encryption keys which are required from decrypting messages.
Instant messaging programmes are another big area that really needs more encryption. There are numerous free instant messaging programmes available for computers and smartphones that emphasis encryption and securing the privacy of your communications. There are also a number of add ons for existing programmes such as pidgin that will enhance your security through encryption.
4. Encrypt your internet traffic
Your communications, documents and personal information will probably at some point be sent across the internet. It could be sending an important document to a family member, sensitive emails to clients, buying something online or simply logging into a website. Many of these services will already have SSL encryption, which is shown by the little padlock in the URL bar. But you can easily add an extra layer of security by installing ZenMate. ZenMate encrypts all your browser traffic, it's also a VPN that enables you to avoid geo-restrictions and hide your IP address. It's a must if you regularly use public wifi or other insecure networks. It's easy to install and has minimum system impact. It's available across devices and operating systems. Best of all, ZenMate is free to use.
Encryption doesn't have to be something just for hackers and those at risk from oppressive governments. It's easily available to anyone who wants to improve their day to day security. It's not complicated and brings serious security benefits at a time when snooping, hacking and cyber-theft is becoming an everyday occurence.