File Encryption Software

Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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The roots of modern file encryption software can be traced back to Multics, a system designed by GE and MIT to be the first computer to operate as a secure system. While the security experiments of Multics fell short of perfect (Multics was hacked into several times), they provided important groundwork for modern encryption methods. There are currently numerous security and file encryption software programs available, and security technology advances every day.

Some modern encryption methods "hide" data in a location that is only accessible using a digital key. The key can be a software program, a code, or a physical device. Some popular file encryption software programs use a USB key, which plugs into your computer to provide the necessary decryption codes.

Symmetric and Asymmetric File Encryption Software

There are two main branches of encryption and decryption coding techniques: symmetric key encryption and asymmetric encryption. Symmetric key encryption uses a single code to both encrypt and decrypt data. It is generally faster than asymmetric algorithms, but may need more maintenance, as keys may be compromised or discovered often.

Asymmetric encryption uses two codes: one for encrypting information and one for decrypting information. This method is employed in such techniques as RSA (Rivest-Sharmir-Adelman) encryption, is useful because it necessitates authentication of both the data sender and the data recipient. Some file encryption processes, particularly those for smaller, private use, use both types of algorithms. This allows multiple users on a single network access to information via a shared key (symmetric coding), as well as private access to secure files via a personal key (often coded into some hardware device, such as a USB drive).


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