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What do German WW2 machines and modern ransomware attacks have in common? Data encryption. How can you keep your company safe from ransomware attacks and various other threats? With data encryption software. How does data encryption software work? Let me explain. 

Data Encryption Software – Definition, M.O., Types

As the people who developed the Enigma machine in the early 20th century knew, encryption (=the process of encoding information) is essential for protecting data and information

Data encryption software usesa key and an algorithm to transform the accessible data into an encoded piece of information which can only be deciphered by authorized persons”, as illustrated in the image below: 

data encryption software - encryption

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How does data encryption software works?

Encryption scrambles messages by using mathematical algorithms, so that only those who possess the sender’s key or cypher are able to decode the encrypted messages. 

The two main methods of encryption are called symmetric and asymmetric. In the case of symmetric encryption, the data is secured with a single private key. Asymmetric encryption uses a combination of multiple keys, both private and public

As SecurityBoulevard mentions, 

The public key is, as its name implies, public and open to anyone in the system. The public key is used to encrypt data. The private key however is private. It is stored on the user’s device and is used to decrypt data. What’s the difference between a public and private key? The public and private key are really large prime numbers that are mathematically related to one another but are not the same. Being related in this case means that whatever is encrypted by the public key can only be decrypted by the related private key. A person cannot guess the private key based on knowing the public key. Because of this, a public key can be freely shared. The private key however belongs to only one person.

data encryption software - keys concept image

Source: Unsplash 

How many types of data encryption software are there?

Data encryption can be achieved in various ways: 

  • Individual file and folder encryption. This type of encryption is used only for certain files and folders. 
  • Volume encryption. Volume encryption implies the creation of a container in which all the files created or saved will be encrypted. 
  • Full disk encryption. As its name suggests, full disk encryption encrypts all the files and folders on the disk and it’s very user friendly because there’s no need to save anything in a special place. 

Data Encryption Software – Ransomware Principle & Examples

As I have mentioned at the beginning of this article, the dark side of data encryption is ransomware. Ransomware is one of the biggest cybersecurity threats of our modern world and  represents

[…] a type of malware (malicious software) which encrypts all the data on a PC or mobile device, blocking the data owner’s access to it. After the infection happens, the victim receives a message that tells him/her that a certain amount of money must be paid (usually in Bitcoins) in order to get the decryption key. Usually, there is also a time limit for the ransom to be paid. There is no guarantee that, if the victim pays the ransom, he/she will get the decryption key. The most reliable solution is to back up your data in at least 3 different places (for redundancy) and keep those backups up to date, so you don’t lose important progress.

Some of the most dangerous ransomware forms that we’ve faced so far were, for example, Wannacry, Epiq, and Maze

WannaCry

WannaCry was a crypto-ransomware that targeted devices running on Microsoft Windows OS, encrypting the victim’s data and requesting payment in Bitcoin in exchange for their decryption. As my colleague Bianca wrote, “WannaCry used an exploit dubbed “EternalBlue”, which took advantage of a security vulnerability that allowed malicious code to propagate without the user’s consent across systems set up for file-sharing.” 

Epiq Ransomware

The Epiq Ransomware was a real team effort, because the attack started with a TrickBot infection that opened the gate to Ryuk actors. Ryuk ransomware targets large companies and government agencies, as well as restaurants, newspapers, public institutions. The first victim of the  TrickBot-Ryuk partnership was Epiq Global, a company that provides legal services to financial institutions and governments from 80 offices worldwide.

Maze Ransomware

Maze Ransomware was another interesting example because it not only encrypted its victims’ data and blocked access to it: the criminals behind Maze also had a public website where they posted the stolen data of the victims who refused to pay the extortion fee. The Maze ransomware cybercrime operation was shut down in September 2020, but, as it usually happens, its affiliates switched to another ransomware, Egregor

Data Encryption Software – Best Practices

Now that we’ve understood how important data encryption is, it’s essential to know what are the best practices related to this subject: 

  • don’t forget to back up your files before enabling data encryption on your computer. 
  • back up your computer regularly, so that you won’t lose your files forever if the encrypted disk crashes or gets corrupted. 
  • when you create the password or PIN, make sure you use random numbers and letters and memorize them. The password/PIN is very important because, if you forget it, no one will be able to access your computer, not even IT personnel. 
  • when working remotely, use a virtual private network to access the office network. As Business News Daily says, “a VPN creates a secure tunnel over the internet, encrypting all data that you send and receive during that session.” 

Data Encryption Software – Free Solutions

If you would like to try a free data encryption software, here are a few options: 

Easy File Shredder 

free data encryption software ex 1

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Apart from encryption, Easy File Shredder is a data encryption software that allows you to also delete the traces of your data. It can encrypt any file on your PC and no data recovery tool will be able to bring it back. 

Easy File Shredder will offer you a clear state because it deletes your files’ traces, but it also overwrites them with random data patterns. 

File Lock Pro

free data encryption software ex 2

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File Lock Pro is a free data encryption software available in 7 languages that can hide and encrypt files, folders, local disk drives and external USB drives. Even the program itself can be hidden in Invisible Mode. It allows you to select multiple files at once, but not multiple folders too. 

idoo File Encryption

free data software encryption ex 3

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idoo File Encryption is a free data encryption software suitable for various types of files and very easy to use. Its options are hiding, writing denial, locking, encrypting and shredding. If someone tries to access your idoo encrypted files and use the wrong password, you will receive an email notification and the program will shut down.  

Whatever you choose, keep in mind that you still need multiple layers of protection to make sure you have a good cybersecurity strategy. A good antivirus solution, privileges and application control software and email security software would greatly contribute to this objective. 

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Data Encryption Software – Wrapping Up

Data encryption is essential for a leading cybersecurity strategy, but it’s important to remember that, in the wrong hands, it has a dark side and can be used for malicious purposes. 

In regards to securing your data, please remember that Heimdal™ Security always has your back and that our team is here to help you protect your home and your company and to create a cybersecurity culture to the benefit of anyone who wants to learn more about it. 

Drop a line below if you have any comments, questions or suggestions regarding the topic of data encryption software – we are all ears and can’t wait to hear your opinion!

Here Are the Free Ransomware Decryption Tools You Need to Use [2021 Updated]

4 Examples of Data Encryption Software to Consider for Your Enterprise

The most Popular Free Encryption Software Tools to Protect Your Data (UPDATED 2021)

A Closer Look at Ransomware Attacks: Why They Still Work

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