Understanding File Encryption
In order to understand what file encryption is we first must understand what are the treats to our personal data on the internet or intranet. Sensitive or personal information is often stolen, intercepted or disclosed to unauthorized persons. For instance, the identity thieves can stole our credit card information, or open bank account on our names. This kind of personal data theft doesn't only affect people, it affects companies and corporations who's data is often extremely sensitive and valuable. This information, in the forms of files, or documents, is sometimes sent across the internet in a form that we often call "plain text". That is a human readable form, meaning you can send a document to someone else and anyone with a program that reads simple textual files, such as word pad, notepad or microsoft word can open it and read it. This data can be than used by thieves for all kinds of purposes.
Now, there are several ways to keep this from happening, we can simply choose not to send the data which is not feasible at all, we live in the information age and we must store and send certain information's and data. It is also not practical to secure our data in some form of secure vault, most of the time we need our data at our fingertips and easily accessible all the time. Some people just choose to remember their personal information. Memorizing the credit card number might work for some people but remembering all personal and sensitive numbers, passwords, not to mention contracts and other documents is again not practical. Our information must be readily available to us, we have to be able to use it, we have to be able to send it and store it on our computers and the most importantly we also have to be able to protect it. This is where file encryption comes in.
File Encryption (or Data Encryption) is a process, or technology, that occurs on data or to information, to preserve it's secrecy and confidentiality. Encryption takes data, it could be a word document, it could be excel sheet, power point presentation, audio or video file or whatever, and scrambles that document to an unreadable state. We want to prevent that data to be read by unauthorized person. At the same time we want the data to be able to be read by the authorized person. So, if you send someone some encrypted data over internet you want to protect it from being read by people who aren't supposed to read it but you want to be able the other party to read it. We want to encrypt our files and data to allow a particular someone to be able to access it and read it. This process involves a technology so the data owner (sender of the data) can encrypt the data and also can decrypt it to it's unscrambled, readable state. The encrypted data acts as any other computer file and can be stored on hard drives, cd or dvd-rom, memory stick or others. It just can not been opened and viewed. Again, any kind of digital file can be encrypted, if it can be created and stored on your computer than it can be encrypted as well. File encryption process can not only be used for transferring, or sending data to other persons, often we may want to encrypt our personal files on our laptop so if we lose it no one can access and read our confidential documents, numbers or passwords. We also want to be able to encrypt data sent through network or through the internet, and this type of encryption happens during transmission, while data is being transmitted.
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