Now that it’s becoming widely known that the National Security Agency has surveillance programs that delve through people’s emails, instant messages, and more, a new industry of encryption services has jumped into the fore. The new entries into the encryption market are often of dubious quality, but some gems may be found if you look hard enough and some old hats in the game may make comebacks as well.
Often, encryption is pointless and serves only to bog down computers and servers with little effect. Many encryption algorithms are easily broken by experts and many more have known back doors that users may not be aware of. Even more often, though, the encryption itself is a waste of time given the information being stored or transmitted.
Encrypting your personal messages containing information you would prefer others not see? A good idea. Encrypting every message you send or receive, regardless of how benign is is? Stupid.
Of course, the idea is that if everything you send/receive is encrypted, the opposition won’t know what’s worth hacking. Right? Well, maybe, but considering the losses on your end and the extreme unlikelihood that you’re being watched, it’s still a losing game.
The better bet is to encrypt data you really want kept confidential or would prefer others not see. Think of encryption as a bolt lock on your front door. It keeps the honest people honest and the thieves looking for easy marks from gaining entry. Someone who really wants to get in? They’ll get in, even if you have New York-style lock series festooning the entry.
The best bet? Don’t store or transmit information you don’t want others to see. Do not store documents you would prefer were kept private on accessible computers or drives. If it’s not available to steal, it won’t be stolen.