The #1 Technology To Protect Privacy
Technology can make it easy for others to invade our privacy. So much data is mined and made available about us that it is hard to keep information out of the hands of business competitors, identity thieves, hackers, oppressive governments and nosy neighbors.
Encryption Technology Protects Privacy
But technology also provides some great solutions to help exclude unwanted others from certain information. Encryption is one of the best bangs for your buck to protect privacy for the least amount of time, money and effort, keeping unwanted eyes out of your most sensitive files. Since so much of our lives are moving into the digital realm, encryption is the best way individuals can protect themselves from unwanted digital disclosures.
How Encryption Protects Information
If a laptop or USB drive gets stolen or lost, encrypted files will be very hard for the thief, or over-curious finder, to compromise. Encryption is much stronger protection than simply password protecting a computer, which is very easily compromised.
When crossing the border into the US, the 4th Amendment does not apply at all and anyone can be searched for any reason, or no reason at all. Your password to unlock your encrypted files, however, does not need to be revealed. Those files will not be searched.
Encrypted files can also be stored safely in many places. You can store them on a computer, USB drive, in the cloud, email them to yourself and your friends, or put them up publicly on a website. As long as you have chosen a strong password and kept that password secret, it will be very hard and very expensive to try and break through your encryption protection.
Truecrypt Is Free And Easy Encryption
Encryption is free and easy with an open source program called Truecrypt. Free means that anyone can download it at no cost, no matter where they are in the world. If you have encrypted your files and stored them in a way that you can access them, like on a USB drive or in the cloud, you do not even need the same computer you used to encrypt them to read the files. You can download Truecrypt on another computer, for free, and open the files with the same password.
Open source means that you won’t have to trust any third party with your information. Even though banking information, phone communications, and internet activity are highly sensitive information, you must trust a third party to protect it. There is always more risk that your private information will be disclosed each time you share it with another person or institution. Truecrypt has also been reviewed and revised by lots of encryption experts. There are no secret back doors, no serious bugs, and it provides very strong encryption.
Most beneficial of all, it is easy to use. It is almost as easy as email. Most people can play around with it for a few minutes and they will be able to encrypt their files like a super spy.
Limits Of Encryption
It is not fool proof, of course. With enough time and money there are ways to use brute force to crack passwords. There might also be shadow copies of things on a computer that were deleted, but not yet destroyed completely by being overwritten with other information.
The More People Using Encryption, The Better For Everybody
The more that encryption is used, the better for everybody. If there is only one encrypted file out of thousands of files that are reviewed by a hacker, thief or other nefarious character, they might be able to dedicate some time and money to cracking it. How frustrated would they be if, after all that time and effort, it was just some funny pictures of cats?
If those nefarious characters come across a handful of encrypted files, it will be much harder to crack them all. If a significant amount of the files they search through are encrypted, it will be almost impossible to break into all of them.
Using Truecrypt to encrypt personal and business files is one of the best ways to get the most privacy possible for the least amount of time, effort and money. Have some fun with encryption. It feels very good knowing you are the only one that has complete control and freedom over those files, even if they are nothing more than funny pictures of cats. Any time you share what is in those files, it will be completely voluntary. For other great technological solutions to help protect privacy, check out HowToVanish.com.
Bill Rounds will be speaking at Libertopia Festival 2011 in San Diego