Encryption is often touted as one of the best ways for computer users to guarantee the security of their data and to improve PC security. This article answers three questions that a new computer user may have in relation to data encryption for personal computers.
What Is Data Encryption?
Encryption refers to a technique used to "disguise" sensitive data on a computer. Data encryption changes ordinary text in a computer into what a computer guru will refer to as "cypher text". The difference between cypher text and ordinary text is that cypher text is scrambled up and it would not make any sense in the eyes of a third party computer user. When homeowners use their credit cards to pay for home appliances bought online (for example), encryption helps to "disguise" their credit card information such that third party internet users are unable to steal such information.
What Of Those Who Don't Shop Online? Is Encryption Necessary?
From the above definition, new computer users would be forgiven for assuming that data encryption is only of benefit to those who share their credit card information online. This would be a false assumption for the simple reason that internet users share various other types of sensitive data on the websites that they may visit (e.g. email passwords, academic certificates, health records etc.).
Encryption also helps to protect individual files stored on a personal computer (without necessarily being shared online). Data encryption denies third party computer users access to an encrypted file in the absence of the file's password. Encryption would be especially beneficial to new users who have to share their personal computers with their siblings (for example).
What Options Are Available When It Comes To Encryption?
New computer users can choose to encrypt only the group of files that contain personal/sensitive information, or they can choose to encrypt the entire hard drive on the computer.
Encryption of specific files prevents unauthorized access to these files, but it doesn't prevent third parties from accessing any non-encrypted files with the intention of installing viruses, spyware and/or malware programs.
Encryption of an entire hard drive prevents third party access to all data stored in the computer. The problem with this type of encryption is that it can lead to a huge loss of data in the event that the hard drive gets corrupted.
Before throwing the PC information newsletter into the trash next time, get the relevant contact details and get encrypted!