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As our use of the Internet, Wi-Fi, and mobile devices increase, it is imperative we keep an eye on security. One of the options we have is to utilize encryption software.
It was not too long ago that the buying public started purchasing paper spreaders to reduce the chances of Identity Theft from personal documents. Today, the threats are compounded by our use of computers and the public domain. Think about what computers are used for these days; it’s more than archiving family pictures and home videos. We use it to store personal information, we use Internet browsers to make purchases, and other financial transactions.
For most, we now know about computer viruses and the damage they can inflict. In recent years, we have been hearing more about spyware, than about viruses. Though both are malicious code used by hackers, they tend to have different intentions. Typically viruses are used to cause damage to computer code, destroy data, etc. Whereas, spyware is used to infiltrate computer files and folders to provide access by thieves to steal private information, such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, back account information, and much more.
Just as we can shred paper documents, we can now do the same to private information on our computers, via encryption software. Wikipedia defines encryption software as, “…executes an algorithm that is designed to encrypt computer data in such a way that it cannot be recovered without access to the key.”
In this article, we will shed some light on what to look for when comparing various encryption software brands, a look at five applications to consider for home and small business use, a list of enterprise-grade brands and services, and some news related to the subject.
Here’s four attributes to consider when you are comparing various software brands. Keep in mind, not all programs will have the same feature sets, and many on the market are bloated with useless, or under-performing options.
Performance and reliability: As mentioned in the opening of this section, you’ll find feature sets to be different from brand to brand. However, there should be a minimal amount of security-based features in every brand you are considering. The software should have strong encryption with an algorithm of at least 256-bit AES or equable and, the ability to shred original files after they have been encrypted, should provide you some understanding as to how strong your password selection is, and upon verification, there should be 100% assurance that the data is properly encrypted or decrypted.
Ease of use: The developer of the software should clearly indicate what operating systems are compatible with their software, and if there are any issues to address prior to installation. Once installed, the programs user interface should be easy to understand and have options, and help only a click away.
Feature set: Though many software brands on the market today come in various levels, the brand you should select will have a feature sets that you can understand and utilize. If you are not an advanced computer user, paying more for a brand that has additional bells and whistles would not provide you much value. On the other hand, if you understand computer security and there’s an option to get biometric identification then by all means that may be a plausible consideration. So the key features of this type of application you should consider will have the ability to right-click on files and folders to execute encryption, decryption or other functions without the need of opening the main program console.
Support: Though encrypting, or decrypting files and folders should be relatively easy, there may be instances where you will need help. It is always a good idea to check to see what methods of support each brand has, as it relates to program help manuals and documentation, online FAQ sections, and the type of context support you would have, such as e-mail and ticket support, live chat or phone support.
Here’s a brief list of encryption software applications for home and small business use. Note fats the software listed below will utilize some standard of encryption, such as Blowfish, Serpent, AES-256, or Twofish.
Hotspot Shield protects your entire web surfing session; securing your connection at both your home Internet network & Public Internet networks (both wired and wireless).
Folder Lock is a full suite solution for all your data security needs. It lets you keep your personal files protected in a variety of ways, in both PC and portable drives and offers optional backup of protected files to an online storage.
This program finds by the method of exhaustive search all possible combinations of characters (“bruteforce” method), or using passwords from lists (“wordlist” or “dictionary” method). Self-extracting archives and multi-volume archives are supported.
The tool for restoring forgotten passwords (also on Internet Explorer). A simple software that was created to ensure that you never worry about misplacing or forgetting passwords.
WirelessKeyView recovers all wireless network security keys/passwords (WEP/WPA) stored in your computer by the ‘Wireless Zero Configuration’ service of Windows XP and by the ‘WLAN AutoConfig’ service of Windows Vista.
The PGP Software Development Kit (SDK) simplifies the process of integrating PGP encryption technology into custom or off-the-shelf applications and security …
The Check Point Full Disk Encryption Software Blade provides automatic security … Combine endpoint full disk encryption with other Endpoint Security Software …
FIPS validation and database encryption. NetLib helps you comply with FIPS 140-2 security standards. NetLib Encryptionizer’s …
Sophos SafeGuard Full Disk Encryption, Data Security for Enterprises. The Leader in Antivirus, Spam, Malware Removal and Network Encryption for Business.
Here are a few stories that strengthens the need for encryption, and issues surrounding its intended use.
Reported in theguardian (Guardian News and Media Limited)
“Internet service providers will be required to inform authorities if customers use virtual private networks in government crackdown. Millions of internet users in Pakistan will be unable to send emails and messages without fear of government snooping after authorities banned the use of encryption software.”
Reported earlier this year in eWeek.com
A spokeswoman said, “Imation has essentially already integrated the encryption technology. Now they’re just purchasing the company outright,”
Reported by EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
The EFF wrote on Thursday that it analyzed the “Off the Record” (OTR) tool, a plugin for Pidgin and Adium for Mac, which are both open-source programs that accommodate multiple instant-messaging protocols into one client.
“We recently did a security audit in which we uncovered and helped to fix vulnerabilities in the popular open source messaging clients Pidgin and Adium. We were motivated by our desire to bolster the security of cryptographic software that we often recommend to individuals and organizations as a defense against surveillance.”