Encryption Can Shield You From Net Perils
Sharing data is now part of day-to-day life and enables effective collaborative working. IT software, e-mail applications and websites make it all too easy to upload and download data, without necessarily being safe or secure. Data should be protected from being read by unauthorised people. Encryption is the process of encoding messages. It is used in the IT sector, but not as widely as it should be in small businesses.
Many businesses use cloud-based storage services such as Google Drive (used to be called Google Docs), Box, DropBox and SugarSync to store and share data and files. These all have security built in, but this can be compromised by a hacker. For example, if your PC or laptop is infected with malware.
This could be a virus or a Trojan Horse, which acts like a man-in-the-middle, reading and copying data, and transmitting it to another party.
A great cyber hygiene habit is to encrypt all of your data. If an unauthorised person gains access to the data, then it is effectively scrambled ones and noughts, and you are safe. The data can only be read if they have the password. My recommendation is to install WinZip or 7-Zip.
These applications allow you to create archives (collections of files) and add a password to encrypt the archive. If you are sending the encrypted files by e-mail attachment, my suggestion is to text the password to the recipients, or have an agreed project password. Publishing the data to DropBox or Google Drive will involve first inviting the recipients to share your folder, and then also providing them with the password.
However every time you share data, think about the risk and impact if it was accidentally sent to the wrong recipient, or forwarded to a third-party.