These days it’s easy to get complacent when it comes to using technology. It’s such a prevalent part of everyday life, using devices and surfing the web seems like second nature. The latest generation has never even lived in a time where cell phones and the Internet weren’t at their disposal.
As more things go electronic and our world becomes more digital, data is constantly being collected, stored and shared. It can be used to improve a person’s quality of life or for someone else’s personal gain.
Technological advancements make life more convenient, but they also provide another outlet for gaining sensitive information. Now that technology is influencing everyday financial matters and purchases with apps like Google Wallet, it’s more important than ever for files, connections and devices to have encryption. It’s the first line of defense in data security.
Encryption secures data with an encrypted file that scrambles the information so it’s unreadable. The file can only be decrypted and read by inputting a password or key. It essentially protects any and all data that’s generated online or stored on devices.
Encryption for Data Sharing and Storage
You could easily argue that data is meant to be shared. Data does no one any good by simply existing. People need to be able to read it, interpret it, store it and share it with others that can use the information. There are many ways to share and store data. Thanks to cloud computing those options are growing by the day.
USBs and Storage Devices
Using Secure USB is particularly important because these devices are moved around a lot. The whole purpose of a USB is to enable the user to store data from one computer that can then be accessed with another device when it’s plugged in.
If a USB were to fall into the wrong hands you don’t want the data to be readily accessible. A secure encrypted USB will require that the user input a custom PIN. The flash drive won’t be functional until it’s authenticated. Once the USB is unplugged it will automatically lock again.
Data Storage in the Cloud
Some people prefer to backup data and documents in the cloud while others are too terrified because of security concerns. Even though the data lives online it can be protected with encryption software and algorithms. Files are encrypted at every stage so no data can be intercepted. You can also encrypt files before uploading them to the cloud for an additional layer of security.
Encryption for Documents
You can go a step further by encrypting the documents before you store them on a USB device or portable hard drive. This is particularly important for companies that store the personal information of employees, customers and partners. Should someone hack into the data center or network they still wouldn’t be able to view the encrypted files. Some industries, like the health care industry, must follow strict regulations to secure sensitive information so it isn’t easily accessible.
Encryption for Devices
You may remember a time when all you had to do was pick up a smart phone and turn it on to start talking. But as more data began to be generated and stored on phones the need for password protection grew dramatically.
Most of today’s computers (including smart phones) use enhanced 256-bit encryption to protect the device. Even with extremely sophisticated supercomputers it’s all but impossible to crack the encryption code. Text messages, data files, images – it can all be encrypted on a device.
Encryption for Internet Connections
The wireless and wired connections that are used to access the Internet can also be encrypted. This prevents hackers from being able to see which sites you’re visiting, what information is being used to log into accounts and the data that’s being digested.
Consumers are always advised to password protect their wireless Internet so that others can’t simply log on and tap into a connection. The Internet pages themselves can also be encrypted. Web addresses that start with https indicate that encryption is being used when sending and receiving information. To be more exact a secure socket layer (SSL) is being used to secure things from point A to point B. It’s an absolute must for websites that receive any sort of financial information or process transactions.
Encryption for Online Accounts
We do more online than ever before. Banking, billing, utilities – we manage just about everything over the Internet because it’s more convenient.
Every time you log into one of your online accounts the data used to provide access should be protected with an SSL connection. It creates a secure tunnel that allows information through but won’t allow others to eavesdrop.
Information at the end of the tunnel is a prime target for hackers. It too needs to be encrypted even if a person is using a protected account.