Encryption Software: How to Choose the Best Software
While using a computer password is a good first step toward keeping personal information and documents safe and secure, it's not the only step that should be taken. With statistics showing it can take as few as four days to crack an eight-character password, computer owners need to make sure they are using all the security tools that they have at their disposal. One such tool many computer owners turn to help ensure their data is secure should a computer fall into the wrong hands is encryption software.
What is Encryption Software?
Encryption software is designed to protect computers so that the files on it can only be accessed by the user. The software works by turning normal, readable data such as personal information, credit card numbers and important documents into an unreadable code that can only be translated by those with a password.
"Encryption protects the hard drive," Raisha Stevens, assistant information security officer for the University of Texas at Arlington, said in an interview with the school's Shorthorn newspaper. "Even if anyone steals a laptop, unless they provide the right key, the data is scrambled and additional characters are added to it so your information remains confidential."
The current standard of encryption, set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is the Advanced Encryption Standard, which uses an algorithm that is capable of using cryptographic keys of 128, 192, and 256 bits to encrypt and decrypt data in blocks of 128 bits.
Choosing Encryption Software
Since computer owners are using encryption to keep their most important information private, it is pertinent they look for software that meets all their needs. The most critical aspect of any encryption software is how strongly it keeps data secure. Computer owners should choose software that has s strong encryption algorithm, at least 256 bit AES or equivalent, the ability to shred original files after encryption and a password strength meter to ensure a strong password. In addition, the data should be 100 percent reliable after encryption and decryption.
Other features that computer owners need to consider include full trial versions to completely test the program using exact configurations, speedy encryption and decryption of files and folders, the ability to right click on any file folder and the power to encrypt and decrypt files on the go, without needing the main program.
The software should also provide a number of support options for owners who are having trouble or who have questions. Top encryption software options include built-in help files with lots of graphics, easy-to-read instructions, the ability to search, built-in or online tutorials, a knowledge base or a Frequently Asked Questions page and email support.
Download or Disk?
Many of the top encryption software options offer choices for either installing software or downloading it online. Both options offer the same features and benefits.
Top Encryption Software
One of the top options for encryption software is Folder Lock 6.4.1. The software's security is robust, with 256 bit AES encryption. Folder Lock shreds all the original files after encryption, leaving no remains on the computer. In addition, it maintains file integrity after decryption. The software uses a password meter to ensure a quality password is chosen. The meter provides immediate feedback regarding the password’s strength. Folder Lock also uses a virtual keyboard method for inputting passwords, which prevents keyloggers from stealing passwords. Other features include speedy encryption and decryption, context menu options, virtual drives, portability, lock folders, hack attempt monitors and a large base of support configurations. Folder Lock offers a number of support options, such as a built-in help system with well-illustrated graphics, an FAQ page, how-tos, an online blog and tutorials.
Another popular encryption software option is the Advanced Encryption Package Pro 5.3.6. The software offers a complete security package with a variety of military grade encryption algorithms, text tools and computer cleaning options. Advanced Encryption Package destroys data permanently by using a variety of 18 shredding algorithms, augmented by a manual wipe option. In addition, the software offers a trial version that allows full use of the program for 30 days. Other features include speedy encryption and decryption and the ability to convert files in the main program, or by right clicking in Windows. For support, Advanced Encryption Package has a built-in Windows help file, an online manual, a how-to page, newsletter and email contacts.
SensiGuard 3.1 is also a highly rated encryption software product. It utilizes 256-bit AES encryption. After decrypting and shredding the original files, the data is completely reliable.There is also a manual wipe option to erase obsolete data. SensiGuard offers a full use of the program on a trial basis for 30 days. Users can also create of a mini version of the software on a USB flash drive to take files on the go. SensiGuard provides a large array of support channels, including video tutorials, user guides, online chats, email support, a toll free number, feedback forums and an FAQ page.
Other popular options for encryption software include SafeHouse Personal Edition 3.06, which uses 256-bit Twofish Encryption when creating virtual disks, Secure IT 4.1.0, which offers encryption and decryption as well as shredding, and File Encryption XP 1.5.162, which utilizes a password generator that can produce passwords up to 99,999 characters in length.