File Encryption Programs

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
Bookmark and Share

Most file encryption programs use one of two kinds of algorithms. May systems, including the national government's "sensitive" systems, use symmetric key algorithms for file coding and decoding. Many other personal and other business systems use asymmetric key algorithms to encrypt and decrypt data.

Symmetric algorithms operate by a single cryptographic key to both code and decode information. One strength of symmetric algorithms is that the encryption speed is generally quick than that of asymmetric key algorithms. One potential hazard of such systems is that, if a password (or key) is discovered, the intruder may have access to the information from any terminal on the network.

Asymmetric key algorithms use two unique cryptographic keys: one to code information and one to decode it. Though asymmetric key algorithms aren't tamper-proof, the fact that only one individual knows each key greatly reduces the chance of the system becoming compromised. Asymmetric keys are generally more mathematically complex to process, however, so they may not be suitable for some applications.

Commercially Available File Encryption Programs

Current commercially available file encryption programs may use either of the tow kinds of algorithms, or a combination of the two. Some software that uses asymmetric encoding also uses an external device, such as a USB hard drive, to contain the decryption code. Such file encryption programs are usually reasonably secure, as the USB key is often small enough to be carried on the owner's person, as a keychain or other personal effect.

Bookmark and Share