Here are some free, open source cryptographic tools you can use to keep sensitive data secure.
Managing your passwords
With the advent of the Internet, we all have so many passwords to remember and use. It is not uncommon for one to have multiple email accounts; one for office, one for personal use and perhaps another one just to give out casually while signing up for services and newsletters. It’s too much of a risk to keep the same password for all accounts and banking on our memory to remember them is hardly fool proof. If you are facing this dilemma, then there are plenty of password managers which encrypt your passwords and store them safely in your own computer.
KeePass Password Safe (http://sourceforge.net/projects/keepass) is a free, open source and light-weight password manager for Windows. It encrypts and stores your passwords in a database, which is locked with one master password.
Encrypted email communication
Email has pretty much become the de facto standard for communication. Although other forms of communication like phone calls and snail mail still persist, the ability of emails to transcend geographical boundaries instantly and without much of a cost has made it a popular choice for business and personal communication. This has resulted in sensitive and highly confidential information being transmitted via electronic mails. However, traditional email by itself is not secure enough for sending sensitive information, as the messages can be easily intercepted when it makes it ways to its destination via multiple mail servers.
Email cryptography helps you to send an email securely by scrambling the message being sent out. Hence, even if someone were to intercept it, he would not be able to make sense of the actual content of the message. If you are into business, then such a software solution is all the more important to you in ensuring that confidential company information does not reach the hands of your competitors.
GnuPG (http://gnupg.org/) is one such tool for encrypting email emails for secure communication. GnuPG (stands for GNU Privacy Guard) is released under the General Public License and is free to be used for both personal and commercial uses.
Encrypting your data
Computers have come a long way since occupying the size of a large room in the early 1950s. Today, they fit snugly onto your lap. Laptops offer great mobility, but what if you were to misplace it? How would you safeguard your information? The simple solution is to encrypt your entire hard disk, or specific portions of your hard disk, so that even if your laptop were to reach the wrong hands, you can atleast take consolation from the fact that your data can still remain private.
TrueCrypt (http://www.truecrypt.org/) is free, open source disk encryption software for Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X and Linux.
Now that you seen for yourself the practical applications of cryptography and its relevance to your life, we hope you are now convinced that cryptography is indeed that is something accessible and useful to the common man.
The useful tools we have highlighted above are all free, open source software. However, we do not make any claims, promises or guarantees of any kind on the performance or the availability of any of the software. Please use them at your own judgment.
- On E-mail cryptography
- Secure your email communication with free software
- Introduction to Encryption
- Image credit: stock.xchng - Junk mail (photo by kveselyte)