Encryption has been around since communications first came about. Wikipedia defines Encryption as follows
In cryptography, encryption is the process of encoding a message or information in such a way that only authorized parties can access it and those who are not authorized cannot. Encryption does not itself prevent interference, but denies the intelligible content to a would-be interceptor. In an encryption scheme, the intended information or message, referred to as plaintext, is encrypted using an encryption algorithm – a cipher – generating ciphertext that can only be read if decrypted. For technical reasons, an encryption scheme usually uses a pseudo-random encryption key generated by an algorithm. It is in principle possible to decrypt the message without possessing the key, but, for a well-designed encryption scheme, considerable computational resources and skills are required. An authorized recipient can easily decrypt the message with the key provided by the originator to recipients but not to unauthorized users.
Encryption is used in our every day lives from unlocking our phones, to making a call on the phone, checking our email, keying in our pin-code at an ATM or checkout, swiping our ID badge to get into the building we work at, encryption is everywhere.
Why, because we don't want "bad actors" intercepting our information and stealing our money, running up unauthorised transactions on our credit cards, or being subject to identity theft.
So whats the big deal about us encrypting our own information, whether that is on our smartphone that the law enforcement authorities feel entitled to, our email that service providers like google feel entitled to read (to protect us from viruses, and identify porn, not to target us with advertising), our photos and images stored on Snapchat, Instagram and Flickr, or the various out of the box cloud service integration iCloud (Apple), Google Drive (Google) Amazon Drive (amazon).
The question is what happens to that unencrypted information and who has what rights to it. Is it surprising to learn that facial recognition technology has increased dramatically due to the millions of images that are posted daily to the various online cloud services and social media platforms. This in turn provides greater profiling and identify "vectors" that can be ostensibly sold as good, suddenly being used for evil.
Encryption is the key to taking back control of your communications, information, identity and digital self.
Now more than ever as more and more of our information goes online, the accessibility of the cloud and our information, conveniently on any device at any time, the more intrusive breakdown of our privacy and civil liberties under the guise of protecting against terrorists, money launderers, paedophiles, scam artists and anything else that can be dreamed up.
By encrypting your data it makes it more difficult for tools to automatically mine your information. This should now include your phone calls, with the sweeping up of our communications, "meta data only" (ha), even who we talk to and when is being logged and monitored.
Take advantage of tools that make this more difficult as part of your Take back control pack
What is it
Encryption is simply the passing of a message through a predefined code or algorithm that creates a new message.
That message can only be deciphered by reversing the process by putting the message with the predefined code and generating the original message.
As children we did this by substituting letters for numbers or moving the letters along a predefined number. These days complicated events are used to create "Hashcodes" that become part of the "key" making it more and more difficult to "brute force" the codes.
Software that is available, and covered here, help to generate the required codes and keys as well as make them available to the public (through the use of keyservers).
- You choose the account you want to protect (say an email address)
- You choose a long password (or have a password generator create one) that will become part of your keys
- You generate the Private and Public Keys
- You post the public keys to the keyserver
- Update your contacts to see whether any addresses are registered in the keyservers
- Use your key to encrypt any files you store to the cloud or emails you send
- Use your key to encrypt any sensitive files (or all files) on your computer
Sometimes it is easier to listen and watch someone explain things to you.
We have included a pretty informative video to help explain this strange and exotic thing, encryption and public keys..