Data security 101: why you should encrypt your files
Wed Apr 10 2019
Encryption is nothing new — it’s been used in warfare and spycraft since the dawn of civilization. But with the rise of the internet, it’s become a must-have not only for Roman generals but for everyone online.
1. Getting hacked is a lottery you can actually win
The bad news is, you probably could get hacked if someone skillful enough tried to break into your system. What’s protecting you right now is the vastness of the internet. There are just too many easy targets online. Hackers don’t have to try that hard when there are people who use “123456” as their password for everything.
And yet, your luck may not hold forever. Funny as it may sound, you should prepare to get hacked. The best preparation? Encryption. When you encrypt sensitive data, you severely decrease the risk of having it leaked.
A hacker won’t be able to make sense of your files without deciphering them. And that’s no easy task if you use the right tool.
For example, NordLocker has been designed to withstand brute-force attacks — the universe will run its course before the encryption breaks. In addition, the private key that unlocks your files is encrypted with the XChaCha20-Poly1305-IETF cipher on your device.
2. Eventually, you will forget your laptop at a bus stop
Why is encryption important? Simple — devices are physical objects.
Phones can be stolen, laptops forgotten, and desktops left unattended. One coffee break later, your confidential contracts may be resting inside a USB drive of some opportunistic spy.
Your devices have the vulnerabilities of any physical object. You cannot be sure that no stranger will ever get their hands on them. But your files do not have to be as vulnerable — not if you encrypt them.
3. You share sensitive information all the time
Whether it’s vacation photos, love letters, or financial spreadsheets, you don’t want them falling into the wrong hands. You don’t want them falling into any hands except those intended. But without encryption, you greatly increase the chance they will. When your connection isn’t secure, your data can be stolen while it’s traveling between you and the recipient.
The best and easiest way to secure your connection is a VPN, which encrypts your traffic by directing it through a remote VPN server. Alternatively, encrypt files with NordLocker and share them without worry.
Sure, but what is file encryption?
Imagine you’re writing a note to a friend. But instead of the letter S, you always use F. And instead of A, you use $. Actually, you change every symbol in the note to its secret twin. Now only the person who knows your code can read your letter. That’s encryption and decryption right there.
Of course, the code above is so primitive a computer could crack it in seconds, and a human cryptologist would probably take a few minutes. The cryptography of today relies on algorithms that encrypt data using keys the length of hundreds of bits.
NordLocker encrypts your files with a 256-bit key, which has, you guessed it, 2^256 possible combinations. No computer on Earth is powerful enough to break it.
File encryption and beyond: staying safe online
As always, when it comes to cybersecurity, the weakest link is human. You may use revolutionary tools, but they won’t protect you if you lack basic cybersecurity knowledge.
If the password that unlocks your files is 123456, the hacker won’t have to deal with encryption at all. On the other hand, your password may be ultra-strong, but it won’t protect you if you give it away to a hacker on a phishing site.
There are many ways to get breached, and there is no one fool-proof way to stay safe online. So besides securing your files with NordLocker, you should:
- Use strong passwords, obviously.
- Get legitimate antivirus software.
- Avoid fishy websites and unknown links.
- Update your system as soon as a patch is available.
- Use a VPN.
Monica is the spirit of our content team. Her bubbliness and creativity sparkle her articles. She loves to investigate various security related problems and bring useful tips to readers. When she is not writing about technology, she explores art.