Why Encryption Matters More Than Ever – 09Jun13

Recent events in the news have reminded us that our information is neither private nor safe online. If it is not under attack by hackers, competitors, and opportunists, it is being mined, examined, parsed, and used against us by our own government.

Strong encryption can help keep your data safe and your information private - even if the encrypted files are stolen or absconded with by your government. Using a tool like TrueCrypt gives you encryption-at-rest protection. That is, it protects your data when it is sitting on your device or in your cloud-based drop box. If you use AES 256-bit or better encryption and a long, difficult-to-guess password, your data will remain safe while idle.

Most often, we recommend 12 or more characters for your password, and the use of a phrase instead of a single word as your password. For example, "I have a dream that all men are created equal." Using strong password techniques (capital and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters) and substituting a couple letters for numbers (like I=1, E=3, and S=5) makes using portions of a phrase like the one above very strong. Combining all this in that phrase, you might make a password like "1Hadtamc3-28Aug63". You notice I added the date of the famous Martin Luther King Jr speech to give the password 17 characters. Very strong.

Now that you have your files protected at rest, you need to protect them in-transit. In-transit encryption is encryption that protects your files and personal data while it is moving - such as being emailed for uploaded to your drop box. It can also provide protection for Internet calls on services like Vibr (since Skype is now being provided freely to the government you can no longer have any faith in it). You most likely know in-transit encryption as your Virtual Private Network (VPN). You see it in your web browser as the little "lock" when you use SSL to shop online.

There are free and fee-based encryption in-transit solutions, like OpenVPN. Just remember that if the provider of the tool or service controls the encryption key (and not you) then the tool or service cannot be trusted entirely. If Google and Yahoo and Microsoft and Apple succumb to the government what makes you think that tiny company providing you the software won't? Always choose a solution that allows you to create and control your own keys. This is why Maverick always recommends TrueCrypt: because you control your own key.

Encryption is critical to keep you and your data safe. Just make sure you choose the right one. As always, if you have any questions, contact Maverick.