Securing Confidential Info - Laundry List of Privacy Tools

Update 05/28/2014 - TrueCrypt is now defunct

Update 01/3/2012: I now recommend the free, open source AESCrypt in lieu of AxCrypt/NCrypt as a simple, easy to use cross-platform encryption tool. Find out more here.


 Image Source: http://www.aarontoponce.org/presents/gpg/images/public_key_encryption.gif

At a workshop today on "Securing Confidential Data," a colleague leaned over and asked, "Could we have a workshop on how to protect confidential data?" I immediately replied, "Yes, definitely!" thinking of all the neat tools I've learned to use over the last few years.

 Image Source: http://www.data.processing.st/uploads/images/public_key_encryption(1).jpg

Secretly, of course, I wondered to myself, How much of this do people really want to know? Sure, I encrypt everything, one way or another. It's taken years to get into the habit...will others really think it's worthwhile? For me, it's a digital citizenship issue...if you don't know how to encrypt data, there's a hole in your education.

Consider the list of tools available to protect your data and ensure no one--not even the Government --will be able to view it:

  1. AESCrypt - This is the easiest, cross-platform tool to encrypt individual files. Find out more here.
  2. PGP/GPG - There are a variety of tools available now that allow you to encrypt your email, files, etc. For example, consider these:
    • GPG4Win - Allows you to encrypt files/email/text easily on your Windows computer. Whatever you encrypt here can also be shared with others using public/private keys.
    • MacGPG - Allows you to do similar things as GPG4Win on your Mac. I still find this a bit of a pain since you have to drop to the command line (e.g. Terminal).
    • KGPG for GNU/Linux - This, IMHO, is the best GPG tool out there.
    • Android Privacy Guard (APG) - This gives you a LOT of functionality--encryption of email, files that can then be sent via email using K-9 email program--on your Android phone.
    • Wija - Allows you to have secure instant messaging conversations...but let's be honest, when would you use this in education? 
  3. TrueCrypt.org - Want to protect lots of data? Then using TrueCrypt may be one of the easiest ways to accomplish that. It allows you to create an encrypted drive container where you can store confidential files.
  4. KeepassX - Don't have a lot of data to protect, just need a place to store your passwords? Then take advantage of KeepassX. Works great on Mac, Windows, GNU/Linux, and Android phones...it's also available for your iPhone as iKeepass in the app store. MakeUseOf.com has a nice write-up on KeepassX.
Honestly, I personally use a variety of tools above. KeePassX, which I recently started using, has been great. With it and TrueCrypt, protecting confidential data is a snap.

Of course, the best way to protect work-related confidential data is to NEVER remove it from your work environment and keep it encrypted at all times, except when you're using it.

Is encryption worth the time and effort in your line of work?


Image Sources
Encryption keys diagram - http://rocketvox.com/tag/encryption
Confidential - http://www.utahcountylistings.com/extra/images/confidential_real_estate.jpg

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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