Encrypt (almost) anything

18.01.2013, von Alex Castle

It's all too easy to neglect data security, especially for a small business. While bigger organizations have IT departments, service contracts, and enterprise hardware, smaller companies frequently rely on consumer software, which lacks the same sort of always-on security functionality.

But that doesnt mean that your data is unimportant, or that it has to be at risk.

Encryption is a great way to keep valuable data safewhether youre transmitting it over the Internet, backing it up on a server, or just carrying it through airport security on your laptop. Encrypting your data makes it completely unreadable to anyone but you or its intended recipient. Best of all, much of the software used in offices and on personal computers already has encryption functionality built in. You just need to know where to find it. In this article, Ill show you where and how.

But first, a word about passwords

Any discussion about encryption needs to start with a different topic: password strength. Most forms of encryption require you to set a password, which allows you to encrypt the file and to decrypt it later on when you want to view it again. If you use a weak password, a hacker can break the encryption and access the filedefeating the purpose of encryption.

A strong password should be at least 10 characters, though 12 is better. It should include a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols. If you find letters-only easier to remember, such a password can still be secure if its significantly longer; think 20 characters or more.