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March 9, 2014

Batten down the hatches with encryption, Part 1

NORMAN — I had the pleasure of visiting merry old London once, attending the InfoSecurity Europe Conference.

About 12,000 people from across the globe showed up for the three-day affair and, as you might suspect, the overall concern of those at the conference was information security.

The field of information security covers a lot of territory: information security on computers, the Internet, smart phones, iPads, portable media devices such a flash drives and digital cameras, and just about every other device that you can imagine.

Most of the conference’s exhibitors and speakers were high-rolling heavy hitters of the industry. I was deep inside the global corporate/enterprise computing scene; there were more suits there than an Armani factory.

As the Internet bad guys become smarter and their crimes more daring and successful and government security regulations are becoming stricter, people are starting to take information security more seriously. That’s a good thing, but it’s easy for individuals and small companies (those with fewer than 100 employees) using the do-it-yourself approach to get lost in the information security maze.

Part of my job is translating what are often complex (and expensive) security solutions into things that individuals and small companies can understand and use.

The strongest way to protect your information is to use encryption. Encryption turns your information into encoded gobbledygook that can only be read by people with a special encryption key, a key that only you can provide.

Years ago, encryption was a real hassle to use, but not so anymore. There are some very easy-to-use, free encryption methods that can give you a high level of information security, divided into three areas: websites, email and storage devices.

If you are like most people, you visit websites that require you to login by providing a username and password. Websites that provide email fall into this category, as well as banking websites, and social networking sites like Facebook. When you visit these sites, pay attention to the website’s address at the top of your browser and observe the “s+lock” rule.

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