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March 16, 2014

Batten down the hatches with encryption, Part 2

NORMAN — The best way to protect computerized information from the bad guys is to use encryption. Whether it’s financial and medical information stored on your computer or private data sent across the Internet in an email, encryption transforms your personal information into a secret code that can only be unlocked if you have the key.

Don’t be put off by any of the unfamiliar terminology that may be involved. Using encryption does not require a degree from James Bond University or permission from the CIA. Many modern encryption products are so easy to use that, yes, even cave dwellers can use them.

When securing your data, there are two main areas where encryption should be used, known as “data at rest” and “data in motion.” “Data at rest” is information that is simply being stored on hard drives, flash drives, etc. “Data in motion” is information that is in transit between devices, such as across a network or the Internet.

There are many good products that will encrypt data at rest and most of them work around the same set of principals, which are similar to installing a wall safe in your home.

The first step is to create an encrypted folder or “container;” this is your safe. Next, you assign the folder a password or “encryption key;” this is the combination to your safe. Finally, you put items that you want to protect into your safe, i.e., your encrypted folder.

From then on, anyone who wants to access those files that you have protected will have to know your special encryption key, which, of course, you will keep secret. It really is that simple.

One product that I like for data at rest is called Cryptainer LE, which can be found at cypherix.com/cryptainerle. Cryptainer LE, perfect for home users, is the free version of Cypherix’s more industrial-strength encryption products and is easy-as-pie to use.

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