Encryption is Key to Protected Communications

The notion of ‘Big Brother’ watching can bring comfort like that of a warm blanket on a cold December night, or the chilling fear the lack of privacy provides. As we see frequently in the news, data breaches and leaked documents occur at an alarming pace. For an enterprise like Sony for instance, its proverbial laundry has been aired for the public to see—including social security numbers and other personal information.

IP communications can create a natural vulnerability to unwanted visitors getting a peak at sensitive information. A large scale example we have all watched play out are the infamous Snowden documents—recently, Der Spiegel, a German newspaper, released more Snowden documents with some interesting revelations.

"The Snowden documents reveal the encryption programs the NSA has succeeded in cracking, but, importantly, also the ones that are still likely to be secure," reports Der Spiegel. "Although the documents are around two years old, experts consider it unlikely the agency's digital spies have made much progress in cracking these technologies."

Protecting one’s communications and data is not as simple as turning on a firewall. It is a multistep process that includes leveraging an anonymizing VoIP tool in conjunction with an anonymous browser and an additional anonymizing tool. I have been brought up with a better safe than sorry mentality, so to follow are some tools in the market that offer the level of security that could keep potential ‘evil-doers’ out of proprietary or sensitive information.

Pretty Good Privacy is an all-in-one privacy tool that encrypts Web browsing, messages, documents and files. There are free versions for download but for the enterprise, its business enterprise versions are worth the price.

Off-the-Record is another encryption tool that can protect Internet instant messages from intruders. It is not compatible with all messaging services but does work well with multiple messaging services available.

A solid free tool that hides Web content and identity is Tor. Tor is available for free, and currently is the most easily attained and readily used encryption tool available.

It may be tough for some to draw the line from the NSA to industry security but do not be fooled. Whether or not the government is watching, competition in the business is fierce, while many have entered a mode of collaborative growth others seek to employ other means for advancement. Ensuring that communications are protected is small price to pay for peace of mind.

Edited by Peter Bernstein