The best way to encrypt most data is to not encrypt it; meaning, of course, not all data need be encrypted—or should it?
To encrypt or not encrypt
Some individuals and companies feel they need to encrypt everything. Sometimes this is warranted; sometimes it’s just overkill. However, it is still a very subjective question. What some would consider paranoia may often be inadequate protection against corporate thieves and hackers. The schedule for your CEO may seem innocuous, unless someone wants to set him or her up for a fall. Even a simple recipe for soup may be worth millions of dollars.
Many mid-sized companies select only certain types of files to encrypt instead of encrypting everything. Your grandmother may want to learn how to encrypt her financial information as well as other sensitive data. Otherwise she can go ahead and check out her grandkids on Facebook and email soup recipes to her children without any encryption.
Who is looking?
One way to know what data to encrypt or not is to ask the question, "Who is looking?" Talk to a security professional about what hackers may be looking for on a computer. Sadly, many people lose their identity, money, and company secrets because they didn’t know how people could use such information for their gain.
Who wants your information? If it’s money, i.e. bank account numbers, passwords, and other sensitive financial information, then everyone; well, everyone who is a cyber thief. Anything that could be turned into money is also a target. For example, a young inventor presented an innovative product to an aspiring mid-sized company. After the presentation, he could tell they weren’t interested. By the time, he got home, the files had been stolen from his computer and his computer wiped clean. Not only had he not encrypted the files he didn’t even have proper back ups or even any proof that the files were his.
Look at every file on your computer; which files, if stolen, could really hurt you? Encrypt those. If you don’t mind if the whole world reads your bad poetry or sees your wedding pictures, why encrypt them? (You should, however, at least back up your wedding pictures). Also, if you are willing to put it up on social media, why bother protecting it?
Inconvenient to impossible
Encryption programs and systems range from inconvenient to crack to impossible. There are software solutions and even hardware solutions. There are even thumb drives that encrypt anything you put on it, and only you can access it. Software solutions range from simple and affordable to customized programs created just for you by the same engineers who create systems for governments and spy agencies.
Just how valuable is your information? If your information is worth seven figures or more, you had better shoot for a solution that is difficult or impossible to crack; unless losing a million dollars is no big deal to you.
Encryption is your option. Make sure you ask yourself the right questions before you decide what you really need. Overkill and paranoia may be inconvenient but they seldom have to deal with the trauma of regret.