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Cyber Security - What is Encryption & Why Is It Important?

Encryption is a form of protecting your data. Once encrypted, unless you have the key or password to unlock it, your data will be jumbled up and almost useless to any unintended viewer. 

You can use encryption as a secure way of transferring sensitive information and to also keep your physical computer safe. 

The process involves complex codes and keys that encrypt, or lock your data. This means when encrypted, if your computer is stolen, lifting data from the hard drive is almost impossible (provided you have the right password protection measures in-place). There are tools available to encrypt and send sensitive digital information as well, Outlook has built in functionality to help here. 

Why Use Encryption 

Encryption is just one piece of the cybersecurity puzzle but it plays an important role. It can be used to protect your identity, privacy and business data. FileVault and BitLocker come with your computer as standard, and it doesn't cost anything to turn them on. It's an easy way to boost your security and help keep you safe online.  

Privacy: Encryption ensures that no one can read your data when it is 'at rest' except for your or the intended recipient. This prevents unwanted parties from intercepting and reading sensitive data.

Security: Encryption can help prevent data breaches for both data is in transit or at rest. If you lose your computer or phone and it's hard drive is encrypted and you have a strong password, the data on that device is safe. Using encryption for sending information can help prevent a cybercriminal intercepting it on the way to the recipient. 

Compliance: Many industries and government organisations are bound by standards and regulations and many of these regulations require encryption for certain types of data. 

How to Encrypt your Windows Computer

If you use Windows 10, the process is straight forward. 

1. Select the Start Button

2. Select Settings

3. Select Update & Security

4. Select Device Encryption 

If Device Encryption doesn't appear, you can use BitLocker to encrypt your computer instead, if you use Windows 10 Professional. Here's how

1. Select the Start Button

2. Type 'Control Panel' and open it

3. Select System & Security

4. Select BitLocker Drive Encryption 

5. Select Manage BitLocker

NB. BitLocker isn't available for Windows 10 Home users.

How to Encrypt your Mac 

You can use FileVault to encrypt your Mac's startup drive, here's how:

1. From Apple menu, select System Preferences

2. Select Security & Privacy 

3. Select the FileVault tab

4. Select the Lock to make changes

5. Select 'Turn on FileVault'

Your Mac will ask you to choose a method to unlock your computer, if you loose your account password. Once selected your Mac will need to be restarted to setup the encryption. Make sure you have a good password setup, you can do this in the same settings area but click on the 'general' tab instead of the 'FileVault' tab and check the box next to 'Require password' and select 'immediately'  from the dropdown box. 

There are other measures built into Macs that can boost your encryption security but it gets a bit tricky and involves going into your Mac's recovery section. If you would like help setting up these extra security measures, get in touch and our support team can help you out. 

How Powernet Can Help

There are IT tools you can implement to make encrypting emails simple. They can also add several additional layers of security to your email platform, helping to keep your team safe online. 

We can help you setup encryption on your individual devices, or rollout a wider encryption policy. We understand that every business has different technical, regulatory and industry specific vulnerabilities. Our solutions work in combination to enable real time malware and cyber defense, blocking of malicious attacks, training of your staff to understand the different types of threats and analysis of your traffic to stop attacks before they happen.

Get in touch to learn more about how we can help you stay cybersafe.

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