Why it's Important to Encrypt your Private Data
It is important to keep your sensitive information – be it financial information, medical records, your personal downloads or, for that matter, your entire hard drive – private and secure by using strong encryption. Think of encryption like an almost impenetrable safe for which only you have the combination.
Encryption is the process of converting information into an unreadable form (called a cipher) that cannot be understood unless a decryption key is applied to the cipher; in more layman terms, the scrambling of data to make it readable only by someone in possession of the proper decryption key (usually a password or passphrase).
The best way to lock down your files and downloads and keep them from prying eyes is to use powerful encryption software. These days excellent software is available for personal use, including free software, that will keep your sensitive information safe, whether from determined hackers or inadvertent disclosure.
You can encrypt individual files and folders on your system or – better yet – use on-the-fly encryption to lock down your entire system. Some encryption software even allows you to create a completely ‘hidden' operating system which keeps all of your computer's information free from prying eyes.
So, whether you want to simply keep the contents of your private laptop safe in the event it is stolen or you want to keep your business' trade secrets safe from industrial spies, everyone these days should seriously consider using encryption.
And remember always to use strong passphrases! The protection offered by your encryption app is only as strong as the passphrase you use for it.
Use Only OpenSource Apps
It is highly recommended to use only open source based apps. As the Snowden leaks have shown us, proprietary apps are at risk of having backdoors secretly inserted into them under pressure from outside agencies.