Jason Ginsberg / 10.18.2022Home / guides

What files do you need to encrypt?

Encryption, privacy, and cloud storage can be challenging to manage for your personal and professional sensitive data. How can you easily keep sensitive information safe?
File storage dashboard with encrypted images, audio, and folders.
Millions of individuals now store sensitive information across myriad devices, from cloud storage and accounts to hard drives and personal phones. Managing the security and privacy of this data online is critical, particularly as personal documents may store critical sensitive information from healthcare plans to client data.Instead of storing data locally on a hard drive or on a USB drive, cloud storage is a model of data storage in which the electronic files that make up a user's data are stored in a remote database. Although cloud storage offers many advantages, such as convenience and scalability, it also poses a number of security risks. These risks have been magnified in recent years as the use of cloud storage has grown exponentially. Now, cloud storage users share links, use mobile and desktop apps, and frequently collaborate across many accounts and file types. As a result, navigating these products safely is an increasing challenge.

Encryption algorithms and cryptography

Understanding different types and applications of encryption algorithms yields helpful context for protecting your personal data. Whether using local encryption software on your computer, or encrypting files for the cloud, different types of encryption are useful in depending on the file and use case.Symmetric encryption is a type of encryption where the same key is used to encrypt and decrypt the data.Asymmetric encryption is a type of encryption where two different keys are used to encrypt and decrypt the data. End-to-end encryption is a type of encryption where the data is encrypted at the sender’s side and can only be decrypted at the receiver’s side.Symmetric encryption is the most common type of encryption. It is used in many applications, such as email, file sharing, and VPN. The sender and receiver must have the same key in order to encrypt and decrypt the data. The key can be a simple password or a more complex key. Symmetric encryption is also frequently used to support full disk encryption, where data on a server or local computer is encrypted with a key for that machine. The algorithm AES-256, which is frequently used in security marketing or disclaimers, is a symmetric encryption algorithm.Asymmetric encryption is less common than symmetric encryption. It is used in some applications, such as SSL/TLS and VPNs. The sender and receiver must have different keys in order to encrypt and decrypt the data. The keys are generated by a mathematical algorithm that allows a public key to encrypt data that can only be decrypted by a single private key.End-to-end encryption is the most secure type of encryption. It is used in some applications, such as email and instant messaging. The data is encrypted at the sender’s side and can only be decrypted at the receiver’s side. The sender and receiver must have the same key in order to decrypt the data and recover plaintext files. Many end-to-end encryption algorithms use a combination of symmetric and asymmetric encryption.

Cloud storage security

One of the most significant security risks associated with cloud storage is the potential for data breaches. A data breach occurs when an unauthorized party gains access to confidential data. In the case of cloud storage, a data breach can occur if a hacker is able to gain access to the remote database where the user's data is stored. Once a hacker has access to this database, they can potentially access all of the data that is stored there. As a note, this is not possible in an end-to-end encrypted cloud provider, like Skiff (read more below).Another security risk associated with cloud storage is the possibility of data loss. This can occur if the cloud storage provider suffers a data loss event, such as a power outage or hardware failure. If this happens, the user's data may be lost permanently. However, this has generally become less common.Finally, cloud storage poses a risk to the privacy of the user's data. Although the user's data is stored in a remote database, it is still possible for the cloud storage provider to access this data. This means that the provider could potentially sell the user's data to third parties without the user's consent, or potentially deplatform the user by removing them from a service.Despite the risks, cloud storage remains a popular option for businesses and individuals alike. However, it is important to be aware of the risks involved and take steps to mitigate them. One way to do this is to encrypt the data that is stored in the cloud, or to use an end-to-end encrypted provider that will encrypt contents and file name.This practice makes it much more difficult for hackers to gain access to the data. Additionally, businesses should consider using a private cloud storage solution rather than a public one. Private or on-premise cloud storage providers typically have stronger security measures in place to protect the data that is stored on their servers.

Hard drive encryption and security

Given the amount of options and products available, it is difficult to know how to encrypt files. However, encrypting your hard drive is an important practice for several reasons. First, it helps to protect your data from being accessed by unauthorized individuals. Second, it can help to prevent data breaches in the event that your computer is lost or stolen. Finally, encrypting your hard drive can also help to improve your computer's performance.There are several different ways to encrypt your hard drive. One option is to use a third-party encryption tool, but the most secure and recommended option is to leverage the built-in encryption features of your operating system, such as Microsoft's BitLocker for Windows or Apple's FileVault for Mac. This will default encrypt all data at rest on your device, which is a critical data protection measure today. Decryption occurs when you enter your password on login and access files or software.No matter which method you choose, it is important to make sure that you choose a strong password that cannot be easily guessed, or to use a password manager. It is also a good idea to create a backup of your encryption key in case you forget it. Encrypting your hard drive is an important step in protecting your data. By taking the time to encrypt your data, you can help to ensure that your information remains confidential and secure.

Best practices for sending files

There are a few things you can do to make sure your email is as secure as possible when sending sensitive information. First, avoid using public Wi-Fi when possible. If you must use public Wi-Fi, be sure to use a VPN to encrypt your connection. Second, avoid using your personal email account for work-related matters. Instead, use a secure, work-provided email account.Finally, be mindful of what you include in your email. Avoid sending sensitive information in the body of your email. If you must include sensitive information, be sure to encrypt the email with a password. Some services, such as DocSend, provide purpose-built products for securely sending and monitoring links and documents that you send. Or, use a privacy-first, end-to-end encrypted email product, like Skiff. Below, we’ll write more about the best products for sending and sharing sensitive files.

Secure cloud storage and email products

DocSend: DocSend is a tool that helps users send, track, and manage documents. It allows users to upload documents to the platform and then share them with others. The recipient can then view the document, leave comments, and track how long they spend viewing it. DocSend also allows users to password protect their documents and set expiration dates.Box: Box is a cloud storage and file sharing service developed by Box, Inc. The company was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in Redwood City, California. Box allows users to upload, store, share, and access files online. Users can access their files from any device with an Internet connection. Box offers two types of accounts: personal and business. Personal accounts are free and have a limit of 10 GB of storage.Business accounts start at $5 per month and have a limit of 100 GB of storage. Box also offers enterprise plans for businesses with more than 100 GB of storage. Box allows users to share files with other users. Users can create shared folders and invite others to view or edit the folder. Box also offers a collaboration feature called Box Notes, which allows users to create and edit documents in real-time with other users.Skiff: Skiff is an end-to-end encrypted cloud storage product that provides 10 GB free, easy-to-use mobile apps, and a suite of products for communication and collaboration (including Mail, Pages for notes and documents, and Drive for file storage). Skiff end-to-end encrypts all individual files and file names, keeping sensitive information private to users.Skiff offers native apps for iOS, Mac, and Android and can be easily used on the web on Windows, Linux, and other platforms. In this blog on encrypted cloud storage providers, we compare more end-to-end encrypted software with more commonly used cloud storage providers.

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