What is encryption anyway and why are millennials so scared?
Except for the tech-minded millennials, most millennials who hear the word encryption run for the hills and leap into the comforting arms of their outdated passwords. Encryption is a scary, technical sounding word. Which I think is a shame because you don’t need to be technically-minded to use encryption. So what exactly is it?
Encryption makes information inaccessible. It is the most effective way to achieve data security.
Encryption works in a simple two step method:
- Data is changed into another form called a ciphertext. Ciphertext is basically a secure little bundle of your data in a disguised form- like someone wearing a costume
- The disguised little data bundle arrives and needs to be unlocked. Data is decyrpted so the plaintext can be viewed. Simple right? Well, the actual encyrption in your computer is a lot more complex, but this is all you need to know.
Encyrption is incredibly valuable in security. It keeps you safe because it allows you to tell exactly who sent a message. It also proves the content of a message was not changed since it was sent – so no nasty stuff got into it. Companies like Android are making leaps and bounds in encryption. So why’s encyrption not a big deal today?
When would I really use encryption?
Encryption is valuable for a number of reasons. Life Hacker suggests using it to send sensitive information, secure your email, keep your cloud storage safe or even hiding your entire operating system if you wish.
We put way, way too much trust over our valuable data with simple passwords. Think about your emails for example. Do you use email to share confidential information with your boss? Contacting your government? Communicating with your bank? Not to scare you too much, but it is insanely easy to break through passwords. Your abcmonkey123 password won’t protect this data.
Here’s what you should encrypt
You have two main choices when considering encrypting your computer: encrypt your entire drive or just encrypting sensitive files.
- Encrypting a group of files means these files are safe if a hacker breaks into your computer. It has few complications and is quicker. However if a hacker breaks in they can still view non-encyrpted files and install malware
- Encrypting your entire drive makes it difficult for anyone to view any files or even boot up your computer. Talk about protection! However if your drive corrupts, most of your files will jump ship and not be retrievable.