Disk Encryption Software – An Overview
Before proceeding to our disk encryption software comparison, let's take a look at what disk encryption software does and why we need it. Data, as such, is stored in binary form that one can read using the program which created it. In other words, if you create a file in MS Word, it stores data in binary form. The format of arranging the binary data is specific to the application (MS Word) and hence, only MS Word can read it. If you have saved it in a text format, any text editor can also read it. Besides, the file associations in Windows make it very easy to open a file – by double clicking it.
There is always a high risk that someone unauthorized may read your data when you transfer it over the Internet, save it on the hard disk, or carry it on any external storage medium - such as a pen drive or a CD. Anyone who can access these storage mediums can easily access your files and read them. There are some provisions in MS Office and other programs that offer password protection, which is not of much use. Hackers, or malicious users, can always crack the password and read the files. The best method is to encrypt the file or still better, to encrypt the entire disk. Some applications such as Office 2007 and Adobe offer you the facility of data encryption for each file you save. It is, however, easy for an expert to crack these regular encryption methods.
Data encryption refers to securing the data/files by masking the original data using one or more algorithms. One of the first data encryption methods I can recall was to invert the data bits. This way, if anyone intended to read the encrypted data, it would not make any sense. Another early method was to create a random number and add/multiply it to the ASCII codes of each character in your file so that it became hard for people to understand it even if they opened your files successfully. These are just two examples of data encryption. To read the data/file encrypted using the random number generator, the data had to be converted to normal, readable data – a process called decryption. This means that all data encryption software products need to have the capability of encryption as well as decryption of data.
This also means that the efficiency of any disk encryption software depends on the algorithms it employs - to create unbreakable mask for your data! Check out this Bright Hub article on methods of data encryption.
As the trend of networks and constant connectivity to the Internet has increased, the need for data encryption has also increased. No one would like to have someone else snooping his private/confidential data – be it from inside the network or from outside. In our article on computer security, we spoke about port knocking and packet sniffing. If such people gain access to your computer storage, they can easily take control of your computer or misuse the data stored on your computer. To prevent this, you need the best disk encryption software. If you encrypt the entire disk, you protect and thereby reduce the chances of any unauthorized person reading your data.