The Why and How of Encryption (Your Best Defense Against Hackers)

Encryption is basically cryptography for the Internet. The earliest known form of cryptography was used by Julius Caesar who was wary of his messengers. He wrote messages to his generals using the “shift by 3” method, which replaces each letter with the one three letters away, so an A would be a D and a B would be an E, and so on and so forth.

Today’s encryption cannot operate so simply; if it did, it wouldn’t be an effective defense against hackers. Instead, ciphertext (an indecipherable gibberish) is used to encrypt messages, which cannot be read until a decryption code is applied. There are different levels of encryption, and with the higher ones you can ensure even the government is blocked from decoding your data.

What Data Should You Encrypt?

You can encrypt basically anything: files, phones, hard drives, flash drives, and more. The question isn’t what should you encrypt, but rather how should you encrypt your stuff. Because anything you can encrypt, you should, but there are different levels of encryption. For example, SSL only encrypts data that’s in motion (such as a file transfer and only during the transfer). Military grade encryption, such as what’s used to encrypt a flash drive from SecureUSB, keeps data totally secure.

*  Single files – Single files are adequately secured with Advanced Encryption Standard 128 (AES-128), which is basically mid-level encryption. AES supports key lengths of 128, 192, and 256 bits and a block length of 128 bits. The bigger the key length, the more difficult the encryption is to decipher.

*·  Phones – Your phone comes preloaded with a measure of encryption. It’s the password or other data that’s needed to unlock it. Make sure you’re taking advantage of these security measures. For even more protection, you can encrypt your phone using the included encryption security. Follow the instructions carefully because any misstep could result in permanent data loss.

*  Hard drives – Hard drives are typically encrypted using a software solution, such as BitLocker. Make sure you completely back up the hard drive before you begin the encryption process.

*  Flash drives – Flash drives must be purchased with encryption preloaded. Not all are created equal; for example, the above mentioned SecureUSB flash drive features AES-256, which is military level encryption and pretty much impossible to decode without the decryption key.

Passwords: a Simple Encryption anyone can Use

You should be concerned about hackers, considering 73 percent of Americans have fallen victim to some form of hacking. Oftentimes this is due to a weak password because a hacker can crack a weak password in as little as ten minutes. If you’re using a lowercase password that is 6 characters long, your password is easy fodder for hackers, so change it.  

Your password is a simple way to encrypt some of your most sensitive data, such as your banking information and social media accounts. To make your password more secure, always use a new password for each account; you can opt to use a password manager. Choose passwords that are at least eight characters, use both uppercase and lowercase letters, include numbers, and include at least one symbol. When you make these changes, your password becomes impossible to hack; in fact, it would take more than forty thousand years for a hacker to decrypt a password with these elements.

Encryption is important; whether it’s your password or software used to protect your files, hackers can’t decrypt the right level of encryption. Pair encryption with the abilities of a comprehensive cybersecurity suite, and you can rest assured all your data is secured.