What Is Encryption and Why Do You Need It?

Encryption is a bit mysterious, but it’s becoming more and more necessary in today’s tumultuous cyber-landscape. Luckily, more and more security technologies are incorporating encryption features.

But what is encryption? At its core, encryption is the conversion of information into some kind of code so unauthorized parties can’t see it. It can get more complex, but that’s the general idea — encryption protects your data.

Not only can it protect your information, but it can also reduce the stress of hoping your data is safe. Just look at this guy:

Keeper What Is Encryption

“I’ve realized that having a true encrypted password gives me peace of mind.” — Keeper review

From passwords to datasets, encryption can protect virtually any information. In the modern world of so many cybersecurity threats, hackers continue to succeed in penetrating applications, networks and databases. So the more encryption you have, the less a hacker can use once he’s penetrated the network.

What is encryption?

Understanding encryption

Think of the way you read this blog. Normal words like these are easily interpreted and often referred to as plaintext. Encryption turns plaintext into something called ciphertext. Algorithms generate the cipher, which can only be decrypted by authorized users.

Early encryption began before computers even existed. Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and Assyrians encrypted their hieroglyphs and trading tools so only intended parties could understand their statements.

Time passed and encryption continued. The WWII story of Alan Turing and the Enigma machine is hinged upon deciphering encrypted messages to gain sensitive Nazi war plans. But once the computer came into play, encryption became more useful and more powerful.

Modern encryption followed the development of mainframe and personal computers. Early computers could encrypt documents and require keys to access sensitive data. The information age and the onset of the internet not only increased the technology behind encryption, but the necessity for it.

Today, encryption secures information from bitcoin transactions to government databases. And there are tons of ways to incorporate encryption into your IT setup to beef up security.

Overall encryption

The overall benefit is information security. But information can travel through applications, across networks and between devices. General network encryption tools like Tor and Privatoria can create virtual private networks (VPNs) or layered anonymous networks to protect users from malicious sites. Networks interlink anonymously or refer you to a server on the other side of the world. This either blocks your IP addresses visibility or presents an alternate one.

Privatoria VPN Tor What Is Encryption

“I most often visit sites that are blocked by a specific region, and also, I need to send a letters to my partners and clients, and be confident that they are transmitted over the network in encrypted form.” — Privatoria VPN Tor review

These general-purpose tools can help protect sensitive information from many access points, keeping people and businesses safe. But they’re not the only tools utilizing encryption technology. Many of these solutions can be utilized as no cost. Here are the best free VPN solutions to boost users’ overall encryption.

Data security

Many data security and mobile data security solutions have features to store information in encrypted forms or require encrypted keys for access control. These tools protect stored data and data being transferred between networks from access by hackers. They can be used within applications to fortify their backend information and secure user data.

Virtru What Is Encryption

“The end-to-end encryption aspect of Virtru’s technology is crucial. One my data leaves my computer, I lose control over it and can’t guarantee it’s privacy. Even over SSL connections, I still have to trust my webmail provider! Virtru solves that issue by encrypting/decrypting content right in my browser.” — Virtru review

But data security can be used for things from virtual environments and databases, to individual files and communications. Local files can be encrypted and stored wherever the users desires with the assurance only approved parties will have access.

Cloak and Dagger File Encryption What Is Encryption

“‘Right click and encrypt’ is CnD’s tag line, and it really is that easy to use. I was worried that data encryption would be a cumbersome difficult process that would cut down on my productivity but I have not been slowed down at all!” — Cloak and Dagger File Encryption review

Device security and endpoints

Endpoints are often the most susceptible devices that hackers can gain access into. Endpoints are simply any device employees are using to gain access into the company network. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) world has made it difficult for companies to manage security across dozens of device types, operating systems and applications.

Endpoint protection is one of our largest security categories, and many of the solutions have encryption features to protect local data.

This could prevent hackers who accessed an individual device from entering networks or viewing sensitive information, easing stress on both the company and the user while securing data and saving money.

Symantec Enpoint Encryption What Is Encryption

“Asset and file encryption certainly provides peace of mind for the company. Not to mention compliance requirements and definitions being maintained quickly and easily with Symantec Encryption.” — Symantec Endpoint Encryption review

Users often forget to update operating systems and applications, leaving them highly susceptible to theft, saving companies from worrying if an employee loses his laptop at the airport or his tablet in a coffee shop. Endpoint protection tools can help identify outdated software and keep user devices up to date with the latest fortification techniques.

Content security

Information is all over the place — whether we like it or not. Every day we send emails and instant messages at work that should never be seen by competitors or thieves. And it’s hard to know when your email or device has been compromised.

Companies often use secure email gateways and secure web gateways to prevent against things like adware or phishing scams. These tools control what users can access through web and content filtering. They identify ads with dangerous links and block emails from suspicious senders.

Echoworkx What Is Encryption

“It allows you to send emails encrypted by simply clicking a button. When the user receives the email they will need to quickly create an account or login to Echoworx Secure Email using an existing login. Once in they are able to quickly and easily read the email, and even respond from within the Echoworx portal to send a reply, which will then automatically be encrypted as well.” — Echoworx review

Professional culture and careless behavior can significantly contribute to the vulnerability of information systems. Companies don’t always explain best practices for making passwords or clicking links. These tools help combat human error and reduce the frequency of employees encountering potentially dangerous content. Other things such as having a secure single sign on solution and knowing if your business needs a application service vs web server can help your company stay secure.

Encryption has evolved from ancient communication to a technology of the future. It’s often the only thing in the way of a hacker viewing credit information, passwords, and just about anything you can think of. These tools can save companies from unintentionally endangering themselves and their customers.

Learn more about the best free security tools: 

Data security: Beyond encryption

Take a look at the software companies use to protect their employees' data.