Saturday, January 24, 2009

Can you use Encryption to Enhance your Privacy?

Continuing on from a previous article, which looked at privacy in today’s internet age, this piece continues by discussing how one can use encryption to protect privacy.

One aspect of privacy that I didn’t discuss is what information your employer holds with regard to your surfing activities. Employees are now provided with internet access and every click and typed address is tracked by your employer.

There are various monitoring tools available that account and report on employee internet usage. These tools are evolving and improving giving employers the ability to chart what a particular user does, how often and when they do it.

This monitoring is sometimes justifiable. Employees that abuse their access to the internet instead of doing the job they are employed to do are identified through these tools.

A perturbing observation still remains: organizations can create a profile of you that includes personal information such as purchases, transactions, medical status and others. This constitutes private data.

You cannot do much to control who accesses your internet or network usage information in an organization. However, as a home user, there are various security and privacy aspects you should be aware of.

The storage media you use, for example USB sticks and CDs, are easy to lose and steal. Laptops have become much sought after items by thieves.

The loss of computer hardware is incomparable to the data loss. It is therefore crucial to encrypt your files so that they are unreadable to all but the owner of the decryption key, you.

Encryption can be simply described as the conversion of ordinary language into code. This is where information (plaintext) is transformed using an algorithm (cipher) to make it unreadable to anyone except those possessing the key. The process of converting this encrypted data (sometimes called ciphertext) back into its original form is called decryption.

Encryption solutions are inexpensive and widely available whether it is for large organizations, small businesses or home users. It is a good practice to encrypt all valuable information on the portable storage devices we use. That way if your laptop or USB device is stolen, the thief will be unable to make any use of it whatsoever.

Another advantage of encryption is that it protects sensitive data against malicious code. When malicious code manages to bypass network security, encrypted data acts as an extra layer of defense. This way privacy can be ensured.

Encryption renders your personal data useless to thieves. Using the encryption solution is advisable to all corporate and individual computer users.


Anonymous said...

I would also like to emphasis the fact that we need to secure our data because its vital for you to keep most of your personal information to yourself, in this day and age where we have passwords and PIN for us to remember, its vital to secure that information. But my main point is please please remember this passwords and PIN codes by heart otherwise e.g when you encrypt the data on your laptop and you forget the "open sesame", your data is useless and there is nothing you an do about it, other than do as i did; i took the laptop to data recovery experts ( I got great service with some experts at town, they did a great job got all my encrypted files back.... check them they were good i had to cough up a few thousands shillings to get my data back. Moral of the story is Back up all your crucial data even those passwords for opening yahoo probably i would back them up on a DVD and hide it under my bed at home another copy somewhere in the office.

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