By: Nihad Hassan
August 6, 2021
Best Encryption Software To Use In 2021
By: Nihad Hassan
August 6, 2021
As the world moves steadily towards adopting digital technology in all life aspects, people's dependence on digital solutions to work, study, entertainment, socialize, shopping, and online communications increases. Nowadays, most data are created digitally, not on paper. The rapid shift from the physical world into cyberspace has resulted in an equal increase in cybercrime. Adversaries are present everywhere in cyberspace, and their primary motivation is to steal sensitive data for financial gain.
Encryption is the cornerstone of data security and privacy. For instance, a great deal of information is transmitted online every day; much of them are sensitive such as trade secrets, financial info, personal data, and a variety of government information. It's crucial to keep that information safe.
Encryption is defined as the process of converting plain text data into scrambled text (known as ciphertext), so unauthorized parties cannot read it without the associated decryption key. Encryption works as follows:
An encryption key that uses a specific encryption algorithm is used to convert the readable data into an unreadable format to encrypt data. A decryption key is needed to restore the data to its readable state.
There are two types of encryption:
Symmetrical: This type uses the same key for encryption and decryption. The security of this system depends on the secrecy of the encryption key.
Asymmetrical: Also known as public-key encryption, in this type, two keys are used, the sender encrypts data using the receiver's public key, while the receiver decrypts the data again using his/her associated private key.
In today's Information Age, encryption is vital for both individuals and enterprises for the following key reasons:
Modern organizations store a large volume of their business and customer personal data in the cloud; without proper encryption, stored data will get compromised if an adversary successfully infiltrates cloud systems.
Compliance requirements: Encryption is required to protect sensitive data from unauthorized parties in some regulatory compliance. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) require organizations to encrypt customers' stored credit card account numbers; the standard requests encrypting this info in rest and transit.
Save costs: According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach in the USA is $3.86 million in 2020. Encryption could save a company a lot of expenses and fines if encryption were correctly leveraged.
Below is the top three encryption software to protect your sensitive data at rest and transmit.
Top Three Encryption Software
VeraCrypt is the successor of the legendary program TrueCrypt. It is an open-source disk encryption program that runs on major operating systems like Windows, Linux, macOS, and UNIX. It comes with the following key features:
- Creates a virtual encrypted disk to hold sensitive information that can be mounted as an actual hard drive partition.
- Encrypts removable storage devices such as USB flash drive or external hard drive.
- Encrypts Windows partition (pre-boot authentication).
- Encryption can be hardware-accelerated on modern processors.
- Provides plausible deniability via hidden volume and hidden operating system if an attacker forces you to reveal the password.
This is the encryption feature included in most Windows versions. It offers full drive encryption in addition to encrypting removable storage devices. BitLocker is supported on the following Windows version/editions:
- Ultimate and Enterprise | Windows Vista and Windows 7
- Pro and Enterprise editions | Windows 8 and 8.1
- Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions | Windows 10
- Windows Server 2008 and later
BitLocker protection is enhanced when utilized with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 1.2 or more. The TPM is a hardware component installed on the motherboard that comes with modern computers. It works with BitLocker to detect any changes to operating systems files while the computer is offline.
To see how BitLocker works in action, check the detailed guide created by the author.
Gpg4win (GNU Privacy Guard for Windows) is free encryption software for files and emails. It supports the following two encryption standards: OpenPGP and S/MIME (X.509) and is the official GnuPG edition for Windows. It comes with the following key features:
- Sign and encrypt files and folders using the GpgEX in Windows file explorer, in addition to creating and verifying checksum from the same context menu.
- It comes with an Outlook plugin to support direct encryption from within the MS Outlook program.
- Utilize a strong encryption algorithm RSA and uses a key length of 2048-bit by default.
- Gpg4win supports using SmartCards for OpenPGP and S/MIME.
- User-friendly and easy to use for the non-tech savvy.
To see how GPG4win works in action, check the following detailed guide created by the author.
Data has become the lifeblood in today's digital age; we utilize data everywhere, keeping it secure has become the foremost duty of any cybersecurity professional. Similar to physical security, when organizations restrict access to physical facilities containing the IT infrastructure, encryption plays the role of lockers and other physical controls to prevent unauthorized access to stored data.