The notion of data encryption is an old one. Employing a cipher of some kind has been a prevalent theme throughout history – even Julius Caesar used a form of simple letter shifting to shield information.
For as long as we have been storing our sensitive information on digital devices, we have also been perfecting methods to protect it from prying eyes or thieves. The desire for privacy is as old as time, and it is no wonder why we have continued in this quest for security on the newest technological additions to our daily lives.
However, most people are lacking in critical area knowledge when it comes to personal cybersecurity and even the efficient use of shortcuts on their keyboard. Encryption is easier than you might assume, but it is important to understand how the desire for security and digital anonymity affects you personally before taking the leap.
How data encryption works
Encryption is simply a layer of obscurity added to your files, making it much harder for an intruder to gain access to your data. From the viewer’s standpoint, it is an added layer of password protection. In order to engage encryption technology on your devices, many methods require only a second passcode (or even your computer’s current password).
Little changes on your end of the user experience, but under the hood, your data has undergone a transformation that makes it much harder for others to gain access. Essentially, encryption scrambles the information contained within your documents so that without the key, the data is useless in the hands of an unauthorized user.
Why you should encrypt
Encryption techniques are not new to digital security measures; websites have been encrypting their data for years in order to protect their users. Internet security requires this type of baked-in protection for its consumers. There are countless malicious hackers around the globe looking for a way in to as many devices as possible, potentially placing the casual web surfer at risk every time they boot up their laptop. Online encryption and platform honesty about the usage of your data are just two tools that developers use to keep you safe while online.
Making changes to your online presence is another way to maintain an active defense against predatory behavior. Using alternative search platforms like DuckDuckGo to find the online content you are looking for – whether it be video media or online articles or discussion boards – can substantially cut down on your exposure to outside threats. These sites do not collect personal data, and they do not maintain a search history like Google does. The reason is in the mantra; Google operates with financial gain as the primary driver of expansion.
Every platform functions to capture data from you so that targeted ads become even more precise, and in turn that much more expensive for the advertiser. These competing ventures are seeking market share, but in the name of anonymity online and internet security over profits.
Steps to protect yourself online
Changing your habits is a great starting place, but for encompassing security, choosing to encrypt your devices is still the best way to prevent physical access to them, as well as remote control. Your computer, phone, tablet, and other gadgets likely have built-in access to these features already, Windows’ BitLocker and Apple’s FileVault each streamline this process. All you have to do is locate these features in the security settings and create a passcode for the encryption process.
Today’s devices run these processes in real time, so anything you save will be encrypted during the save process, and in reverse when you decide to open a file. Once you shut down your machine, the encryption is locked again and will require the entry of your passcode to access once more.
Encryption and online anonymity are essential to security in the modern world, take the time to learn how your online presence is monitored and take the simple yet necessary steps to ensuring your continued safety in a time full of curious eyes.