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What is encryption, and why is it important?

What is encryption?

Information is sent all over the internet every day, from one place to another. It could be anything, such as a request for a specific page on a website, login credentials, or even credit card information. This information is often kept safe using encryption, which is basically a method in which information is modified to become completely unreadable, but can still be decrypted to become readable again.

Encryption has been around in various forms for a very long time in various forms, from the Caesar cipher used by the Ancient Romans, to the Enigma code used in WW2. And today, computers use much more advanced encryption known as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security).

Why is encryption important?

Personal information, such as names, addresses, credit card details, and more is increasingly being being transferred via the internet. If this information is encrypted, that means that the information is transferred in a format that can be read by anyone.

The worry hear is that someone malicious could find a way to intercept or obtain the information being transmitted across the internet. If it’s not encrypted, then that person could easily see someone’s private/personal information or data.

Staying up to date and staying safe

Over time, encryption becomes more and more complicated. Why? Every so often someone cracks the code or computers become powerful enough to easily decrypt an older (less advanced) encryption method/protocol, and a newer/better encryption protocol needs to be implemented.

This has actually happened a few times in recent years, and some encryption protocols are encryption methods/protocols used by computers are now considered very insecure and should not be used.

Believe it or not, some of these older and less advance encryption protocols are still used by some older versions of Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX. If you’re using Windows XP, Windows Vista or even Windows 7, your computer might being using older encryption that isn’t considered secure anymore. And only OSX 10.9 and above support TLS 1.2+ , anything older than that is now consider insecure.

The best thing to do to keep your information safe, is to update to the latest version of your operating system. We have a separate article with a table that details different operating systems and the level or encryption they support.

 

 

 

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