With all the snoops trying to get their hands on, well, every bit of information they can, encrypting sensitive content makes perfect sense. But there are various kinds of encryption you can use to protect yourself and your data, each with its pros and cons.
In this article, we will look at two types of encryption:
- Disk encryption – The encryption of a Disk drive (or another storage device). To read any data on the disk, you need to know a password or a secret key.
- Document encryption – The encryption of a complete document (or another file). To read the document, you need to know a password or a secret key.
We’ll take a quick look at how each type of encryption works, and talk about when you would want to use each type.
How To Encrypt Files With Disk Encryption?
Disk encryption works by encrypting part or all of a disk drive or other storage device. When you encrypt the entire disk, it is known as Full Disk Encryption (FDE). When only parts of the disk are encrypted, you have Encrypted Partitions on the disk.
In a system using FDE, all the data on the disk is encrypted. When a user starts the system, they enter the encryption key, and the encryption software uses the key to encrypt/decrypt data on the fly.
Whenever data is read from the disk, it is decrypted before being used. Likewise, whenever data is written to disk, it is encrypted. Since the data on the disk is always encrypted, it is always inaccessible to anyone without the proper key, even if they physically take possession of the disk. And since the entire disk is encrypted, there is no way that sensitive data can find its way to an unencrypted file on the disk.
Encrypted Partition Basics
In a system using Encrypted Partitions, data automatically gets encrypted/decrypted only when it is stored on an Encrypted Partition. The user must take care to store documents and other files in the proper partitions.
The necessity to decide whether or not each file belongs on an Encrypted Partition means there is a chance that the user will make a mistake and leave sensitive data exposed. It is also possible for data stored in an Encrypted Partition to simultaneously appear in unencrypted form in a cache or swap file elsewhere on the disk.
Should I Encrypt My Disks?
In most cases, the answer is yes. You should encrypt your disks using FDE. It provides a basic level of protection with little or no performance impact once the disk is encrypted. Since the encryption is automatically applied to everything on the disk, you can’t forget to encrypt something, and the encrypted data can’t appear in an unencrypted file on the disk.
However, FDE does have some weaknesses. Perhaps most important, if the key is lost, the entire disk becomes unreadable. This makes the loss of the key much more damaging than when each document is encrypted individually with its own key. Some sort of key management system is almost mandatory to avoid eventual data loss.
Another weakness is that the system is vulnerable to hostile software while it is running. Reading and writing the encrypted disk is transparent to software once the disk is unlocked.
Finally, remember that FDE only protects files while they are stored on the encrypted disk. Sending a document to another computer by email, or even to an unencrypted disk on the same computer will leave the document unencrypted at its destination.
How To Encrypt Individual Files With Document Encryption
Document encryption (more properly file-level encryption) involves encrypting each document before it is saved. Ideally, every file will be encrypted with a unique key. This has several advantages over FDE or Encrypted Partitions.
Document encryption gives you fine control over who has access to which documents. Users only have access to the specific documents for which they have a key. On a system using FDE or Encrypted Partitions, a user with access to the disk or partition has access to every file on that disk or partition.
Encrypted documents remain encrypted when you email them or copy them to another disk. Only someone with the correct key can read an encrypted document, regardless of where it is located.
But the strength of document encryption is also a weakness. Anyone who needs to decrypt the document needs a copy of the key. Within an organization, distributing keys shouldn’t be a problem. Large companies and many small ones have Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Systems, Digital Asset Management Systems, or other tools that handle encryption and internal key distribution transparently.
But sending encrypted documents to external destinations can create a strange situation. While an encrypted document can be sent without worries, the key for decrypting it must be sent securely. Encrypting the key using PGP or some other Public-Key encryption system and the related Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) to send the key to the destination is one approach.
When Should I Encrypt My Documents And Other Files?
This is a hard one to answer. If you are in a corporate environment, this is all probably handled for you, or there are policies in place to tell you what to do.
On a personal level, you should ask yourself questions like these:
- How good is my current network security?
- How valuable is my data to outsiders?
- How sensitive is the information in any particular document?
- Is FDE sufficient, or do I need to take it further?
- Will I be storing any sensitive documents online, sending them through email or social media, or storing them in the cloud?
While you will need to figure out an approach that is right for you, we have some general suggestions:
- If a document contains sensitive information, and it will be leaving your computer or network, encrypt it.
- If it is so sensitive that it could impact your career, your marriage, or your bank balance, encrypt it.
- If you have reason to believe that you are being specifically targeted by someone or some government agency, encrypt it.
- If it contains random information of little value or information that is already out on social media, you probably don’t need to bother encrypting it.
Beyond those suggestions, figuring out the right balance is up to you.
Increasing Your Privacy with a VPN or Tor
There is one last thing to consider before you decide on your document encryption policies. NSA documents released by Edward Snowden show that they consider anything that is encrypted to be suspicious. They can keep copies of any encrypted document as long as they like.
This reasonably raises the concern that sending an encrypted document somewhere simply paints a target on your back for the spies. While we aren’t sure whether that is true or not, there is something you can do to reduce your risks: use a VPN or Tor when sending encrypted documents anywhere.
While neither type of tool provides perfect protection, both VPNs and Tor encrypt all data passing to and from your computer. Because anyone monitoring the connection between your computer and the Internet can see only encrypted data passing back and forth, they have no way to tell you are transmitting encrypted documents as well. NordVPN is worth looking into, should you decide to start using a VPN.
Should I use disk and document encryption together?
Here is a quick summary of the main strengths and weaknesses of disk encryption (FDE) and document encryption:
|Protects all data stored on a disk automatically||Yes||No|
|Protects data that leaves your computer or network||No||Yes|
|Result if key lost||Entire disk inaccessible||Specific document inaccessible|
|Vulnerable if an attacker has access to the computer while it is running||Yes||It depends on how document keys are distributed or managed.|
Computer security experts recommend using disk encryption and document encryption together. By using FDE and document encryption together, you are creating a defense in depth. Using both types of encryption takes advantage of the strengths of each approach while minimizing some of their weaknesses.
An attacker would need to get past your disk encryption to even see that you have an encrypted document on the disk. Then the attacker would have to get past the document encryption to actually read any sensitive data.
BTG Pactual becomes first bank in Brazil to participate directly in the crypto market
Financial institutions have been increasingly keen on being part of the booming $2 trillion cryptocurrency market, with over 13 of the world’s largest banks pushing roughly $3 billion in funding so far, into cryptocurrency. The latest major news came from Brazil.
One of the leading Brazilian investment banks BTG Pactual has been trending within the crypto community. It launched a new platform enabling customers to make direct investments in cryptocurrencies. Ergo, making it the first major financial institution in Brazil to participate directly in the crypto market.
According to local news outlet, The Rio Times,
“…the launch of Mynt, a platform that allows BTG Pactual Digital and BTG+ clients to trade directly, cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether.”
Andre Porthilo, BTG Pactual’s head of digital assets, stated,
“At this first moment, we will have the two main assets of the market, but we will include other cryptos for trading over time. We will have a complete platform with blockchain-based assets.”
One thing that remained in common with different banks incorporating these tokens is the fact that they have been responding to “demand from our customers who wish to trade crypto.” This news is no different.
BTG Pactual CEO, Roberto Sallouti laid out his plan of action with this development. He opined, “As a new asset class, we will also have content to educate and inform our customers about these assets and the technology.”
Needless to say, Brazil has witnessed an immense amount of crypto traction. That said, regulators too have taken steps to curb illicit activities. As asserted by the CEO, the said bank will be regulated by both the Brazilian Securities Commission and the local central bank. Moreover,
“With the support of BTG Pactual, Mynt has fundamental differentials in security and credibility…”
The said bank had previously incorporated digital assets in previous operations as well. In 2019, it launched its real estate-backed security token ReitBZ. This step was executed post-examining digital assets for a couple of years. Just recently, the bank announced collaboration with Gemini, the U.S.-based crypto exchange. Gemini provided custody services to the first Bitcoin fund issued by a Brazilian investment bank.
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Ethereum NFT Game Sorare Fantasy Soccer Raised $680 Million
Ethereum NFT game Sorare fantasy soccer just raised $680 million and it is now valued at $4.3 billion while launching a US office so let’s read more today in our latest Ethereum news.
The Ethereum NFT game Sorare fantasy soccer raised $680 million and the french startup now plans to expand into other sports as well as to onboard women’s soccer teams and US office. Sorare is an Ethereum-based fantasy soccer game based on NFT trading cards and grew dramatically in 2021 with a rising base and huge trading volume not to mention the new licensed teams in the mix. Today, however, the startup is using the momentum with the announcement of a new funding round.
The $680 million Series B round values the company at $4.3 billion after a $50 million Series A round which was announced back in February and the new series was led by Japanese tech and investment conglomerate SoftBank that has a number of crypto industry dealings through SBI holdings financial services division. Sorare is focused on soccer with players from more than 175 licensed clubs like FC Barcelona, Juventus FC, and Paris Saint Germain FC as some of the most popular. Nicolas Julia, the co-founder and CEO of Sorare said that this week the company plans to expand into other sports and it will open a US-based office in the upcoming months to help “continue to grow with fans and sports leagues.” He continued:
“We have ambitious plans to keep growing Sorare into a sports entertainment giant. The new funding will be used to help us continue to grow a world-class team, expand to new leagues and new sports, and keep improving our experience for users, including shipping a mobile app.”
Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot is similar to Sorare, built around NFTs and based on professional athletes. An NFT acts like a deed of ownership to a scarce digital item so in the case of Sorare, it’s a digital trading card that can be purchased and resold with each available in limited quantity. One NFT card can even reach $290,000. Unlike Top Shot, however, Sorare has an ongoing game component and is similar to other fantasy sports in that you can choose your top players each week as well as the leagues with other users. Sorare also has close ties with Ubisoft as it took the accelerator program this year.
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