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Encryption simply means converting information or sensitive data using a code that prevents it being understood by anyone who isn’t authorised to read it. You can encrypt Files, emails or even whole hard drives to ensure that if your data falls into the wrong hands it can’t be accessed.

Everyone now has a lot of personal and private data on a number of different devices, from PC to PDA to Phone to Organisers/Diaries. You can also be transmitting this data using email, Instant Messaging, etc throughout the day. Like all important and valuable items your data or personal information is extremely valuable to you. Should you lose/ lend or have it stolen, you will want to have peace of mind and ensure that data is secure or encrypted and safe from prying eyes.

Encryption is also used for e-commerce to ensure the channel of communication between you and the reputable vendor is secure and that all private details transferred by you to the seller is secure and encrypted.

There are lots of different techniques for encryption. The stronger the encryption the harder it is for a hacker to decrypt the code using a computer. The latest codes are unbreakable but simpler kinds of encryption can be broken using a regular PC with the right tools. As a general rule the more bits used for the encryption the stronger it will be, so 128-bit encryption is stronger than 64-bit.

How to use encryption

You can either choose a free “Open Source” product to help you encrypt your files or purchase a commercial product that will suit your needs – there are plenty of each to choose from but the final choice may well be decided by your level of technical expertise.

Alternatively your operating system may also support hard drive encryption. For example Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate versions include the BitLocker,feature which allows you to encrypt your whole hard drive.

For more specific encryption tasks or for older operating systems, it may be easier to invest in a piece of software that will encrypt a given file or directory or create an encrypted archive. This is somewhat technical and you may need extra help to configure it. Once it is running however, it is very easy to use.