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What is encryption?


Today I shall talk about encryption, what it is and the different types available on the market.

Encryption is basically taking a computer algorithm and applying it to a piece of data and making it unreadable to a third party. In essence the only person who can read that data is the person who has the key to decrypt it.  If you had data on your hard drive which was sensitive (e.g financial records etc) then you could encrypt it so no one else could read it.

What are the different types?

There are loads of different types of encryption and which one you use will depend on if you want t0 encrypt transmissions, databases or files / folders.  I am going to concentrate on files / folders because that is what most people will be looking for – making files unreadable to third parties.

This is where I shall introduce you to two of the most popular pieces of encryption software, TrueCrypt and Bit Locker both of which work on Windows.  Truecrypt is open source while Bit Locker is proprietary software from Microsoft.  Both can encrypt and decrypt a hard drive and both are virtually unbreakable (at time of print!!).  TrueCrypt is easy to set up and does not require repartitioning of your hard drive, whereas Bit Locker does.  Bit Locker requires a 1.5 Gb partition to be set up prior to installing the operating system.  If not you will have to repartition your hard drive and restore Windows from a backup.

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of encryption?

Advantages

1. Data is safe as no one else can read it without the decryption key.

2. Once set up it requires little or no user input.

Disadvantages

1. If you lose the encryption key you will not be able to read your data EVER.

2. Uses more system resources (ie CPU)

3. If Windows becomes corrupt and will not boot you have to decrypt your files before you can recover them which takes time (I recently had to decrypt a 160Gb hard drive encrypted using TrueCrypt which took 8 hours!! Only then could I recover the user files and restore the system)

Hopefully this has given you an insight into encryption and the advantages and disadvantages of using it.  Just remember don’t lose the key!!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients throughout Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

CyberChimps
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