Encryption is only used in spy novels, right?

With the growth of a digital society, we all carry a wealth of sensitive information everywhere we go.  Laptops are chalked full of work related projects and corporate information.  Tablets are loaded with browser history detailing our most guarded activities and smart phones contain a detailed record of every personal correspondence.  What if you were to lose the privacy of your digital life?  What if I had access to every email, text message and phone call you make?  What if I had all of your online banking information or even your “private” Facebook activity?  For many of us, this can be a sobering thought.  Many users store work related information on personal devices that often have much lower security standards than their work systems.  For most personal devices (home pc, laptop, tablet, cell phone, ect) we rely on simple passwords/PINs to protect our data?  A simple Google search reveals literally hundreds of ways to bypass security systems on most personal devices.

If this is new information to you, I know what you’re thinking.  “What?  Password protecting my device doesn’t really protect it?  You’ve got to be kidding.  What’s the point in using a password at all?”  Unfortunately, the old adage is true that “locks only keep honest people honest.”  If passwords can’t be solely trusted to protect our data, what else can we do?  One of your options is to encrypt your data.   Webopedia defines encryption as “the translation of data into a secret code.”  Simply stated, encrypting your information renders it useless to anyone that may steal it because they are unable to read the encrypted data.  Years ago, encryption was complicated and expensive resulting in its use for only the most sensitive data.  Data corruption or lost cypher keys could result in the total loss of encrypted information.  Fortunately for all of us, encryption isn’t as scary and complicated as it once was.

There are many products that allow for the quick/easy encryption of data and many personal devices already have the ability to be encrypted.

Like passwords, encryption can not be trusted as your only method of data security; but adding it as an additional layer of security will certainly lower your risk of data loss due to cyber thieves.  Just remember: when in doubt, encrypt!

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