24 Mar What Does File Encryption Mean?
File encryption is the process of encoding information so that it can only be translated and viewed by approved parties. Its applications are numerous, from the encoding of personal correspondence to the encryption of sensitive documents whose widespread exposure might have legal or criminal repercussions.
This process has never been more relevant than now; increasing cultural digitisation sees the transfer of huge amounts of private information every second, often across vast distances. Changing global attitudes towards technology further this. As our expectations and requirements in this arena increase, so does our dependency on the processes and failsafes that protect us.
But like many successful modern applications, encryption has historical precedence.
The ancient world was a much different place and the applications of encryption reflected this. For the Romans, the Greeks and the Egyptians before them, the most sensitive messages would have been those relating to war and politics. In the absence of social media, e-commerce and global financial transfers, these represented the most confidential communications. Encrypting military correspondence, for example, ensured that armies, formations and tactical movements were kept undisclosed, except to the right people.
While the encryption of confidential military communications is still relevant, the modern explosion of global communication and digitised processes have seen encryption assume a new level of significance.
The world has never been more connected. This interconnectivity brings us closer, enabling instantaneous global communication on a personal, industrial, and commercial level, but it also makes us more vulnerable.
A simple online search can reveal everything from our names and addresses to our hobbies and past-times. Often we volunteer this information willingly to social network sites without a second thought. But our online presences go much further than this.
Increasingly, sensitive information such as employment history, hospital records and financial details are finding their way online, as the organisations that govern them update their processes in attempts to become more modern and efficient.
This is itself is not a negative thing. Digitisation offers a bounty of financial and procedural benefits. It does new and increasing threats to our confidentiality, however, highlighting the modern importance for safe, secure, reliable file encryption.
What is Encryption?
As the processes that govern them have become more technical and digitised, so have the necessary methods of encryption. In encryption, the sensitive information, known as plaintext, is coded using an encryption algorithm, turning the plaintext into ciphertext.
An encryption key is then required in order to translate the ciphertext back into plaintext and reveal the intended message.
Ciphertext varies in appearance, depending on the strength of the encryption code used. A weak ciphertext might replace each letter of a message with the following letter in the alphabet, for example. The more intricate the ciphertext, the more difficult it is to decode without the key.
Encryption does not protect messages from interception; rather, it ensures the contents of such messages are unintelligible to anyone without the proper access keys. In principle, it is possible to intercept and decrypt ciphertext without possessing the necessary encryption key, but this would require a dedicated effort and a large amount of technical and computational skill.
To the intended recipient possessing the encryption key, the ciphertext is easily decrypted, revealing the original plaintext and the information contained therein.
Encryption might have changed since ancient times but its purpose has never been more applicable. Data transfer has become an integral part of our lives, whether we are sending a private email or exchanging legal documentation with an international colleague, and the secure transfer of this information is paramount to trustworthy and professional business practices.
To find out how our file encryption services can protect you, call us on +44 (0)208 292 2660 or contact us here.
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