Should You Encrypt Your Data?

by JackieR | Hot and Mobile

Data encryption is likely a daunting thought. But before you get too overly concerned, you need to decide if you have data that needs to be encrypted. Here are some steps to follow to determine if you should be encrypting your data on your personal computer or mobile device.

What Needs to Be Protected?

You need to protect any personal data which could do damage to you or someone else if it gets out. This includes things like social security numbers, credit card numbers, and individual health information. If you are unsure if you have any of this information on your devices, then you can use software tools which can crawl your device to try to find pertinent information that you will want to have encrypted.

Not everything is going to need to be encrypted on your computer. Your personal photos might not need to be, for example. However, tax documents and business documents you are likely going to want to have encrypted. You will need to keep yourself safe from identity theft and perhaps your employer from serious data breach problems that might arise if sensitive data accidently gets into the wrong hands.

So take a good, hard look at the data you have stored on your computer, or that you’ll be sending over email, and determine if it should be encrypted to protect you and/or someone else.

Why Do You Need to Encrypt Information on Your Personal Computer?

You might be thinking that you don’t have to worry about anyone getting the data on your computer, but if you lose your computer, then you might want to have the data encrypted on your machine to keep anyone from gaining access to it.

If you’re sending data through email you might want to encrypt it. This includes things like tax documents which contain sensitive data like your social security number.

If you have sensitive business information on your computer, you’re going to want to have that encrypted to protect your employer if your computer should get stolen.

How to Encrypt Data

Once you have figured out if you have data that needs to be encrypted on your computer, you will need to get to work on encrypting it. This can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not tech savvy. Probably the best thing to do for the typical user is to create a digital locker. This is basically a separate disc drive on your computer that you can use to store this sensitive data. You will need to follow some steps to make this effective.

  • Use a secure password. This is the only protection of someone getting into this file so it should be long and complex -not something that can be guessed, and something you’ll change frequently.
  • Any person with the password can read the files. So you might need to create multiple lockers to store different types of data that you can share with certain groups of people.
  • You will need to back up the files that you have stored in your locker as they can still be damaged or lost.
  • Make sure you have up-to-date protection software on your computer to keep all data safe.

In summary, the key to encryption is encrypting the right data. You don’t need to have everything encrypted, just the data that could cause harm if it ends up in the wrong hands. Staying up on what documents you have stored on your computer and how you store them is going to be important for protecting you and others from a serious data breach.

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