Security for Dummies

security tips and tricks

Why do you need encryption to be portable

In previous post I have told you about 5 reasons to use encryption, but did not mention the main one. It is not the reason number 6, it is the MAIN reason.
Before I tell you what this reason is I want you to imagine that when you encrypt some data you put it in a safe. The stronger algorithm the thicker are the walls of the safe. Let’s imagine AES 256  as a safe with 10” steel walls, massive door and very complicated lock. Next character – a cryptographic key, which can be a password (a dial pad on the safe door) or a key.
I hope you clearly imagine this safe. Good. Let’s assume that you closed this safe with a password. We all know that passwords are rather weak protection and sooner or later your password will be guessed. You ask why? OK, I will remind you.
1. You have to remember passwords, therefore it cannot be too complicated
2. You have to type it blind, in without seeing letters, so it cannot be too long. Otherwise you will need to input it several times
3. You likely use a vocabulary word as a password, or address, or you family member’s name and date of birth. It can be also your pet name. So a brute-force attack will definitely smash your protection.
So, encrypting a file using passwords is like placing it in a safe with dial pad. Sometimes you even write the password down and stick it near the dial pad. Actually, nowadays cryptographic algorithms are extremely strong. The only weak link is the user. Yes, you are! Are you still relying on this kind of protection?
Let us imagine a stronger one. You have a key to lock your safe with. It can be a key-file on some removable media. This is a bit stronger. You lock and open your safe with the same key. This is a symmetric encryption.
There is even stronger solution, when you lock with one key and unlock with another. This technology is called PKI or asymmetric encryption. It can use a hardware key, like Aladdin e-Token or smartcard. Is it secure enough? Yes, it is much safer than a password and a key file. But… You need something to enable these keys. A smartcard reader and drivers installed, or drivers for the e-Token or ActiveX enabled. That means that you can use encrypted file on your workstation only. What if you want to use this file somewhere else?

Is there a way to make it portable? Yes, there are portable cryptographic tools. They do not need drivers; they work automatically, integrating both crypto-engines and key generation tools.

Summarizing, you need Portable Encryption to make your files really secured. If you encrypt one with a password, you lock it within a safe and invite a brute-force attack. If you encrypt using a preinstalled system you provide also tools for this attack. Only using portable solution will keep your files safe. You carry your keys and your lock with you, while your info is closed within a safe.


June 28, 2008 Posted by | Encryption, privacy, Security | , | 1 Comment