Encryption is an incredibly important tool for keeping your data safe. When your files are encrypted, they are completely unreadable without the correct encryption key so if someone steals your encrypted files, they cant actually do anything with them.
But there are actually two types of encryption hardware and software both of which offer different advantages. So what these two encryption methods. And why do they matter?
As the name implies, software encryption uses software tools to encrypt your data. Some examples of these tools include the BitLocker drive encryption feature of Microsoft Windows, or the 1Password password manager. Both use encryption tools to protect information on your PC, smartphone, or tablet.
Software encryption typically relies on a password; give the right password, and your files will be decrypted, otherwise they remain locked. With encryption enabled, it is passed through a special algorithm that scrambles your data as it is written to disk. The same software then unscrambles data as it is read from the disk for an authenticated user.
Software encryption is typically quite cheap to implement, making it very popular with developers. Software-based encryption routines do not typically require any additional software or hardware either they just work.
Software encryption is only as secure as the rest of your computer or smartphone. If a hacker can crack your password, the encryption is immediately undone.
Software encryption tools also share the processing resources of your computer, which can cause the whole machine to slow down as data is encrypted/decrypted. You will also find that opening and closing encrypted files is much slower than normal because the process is relatively resource intensive, particularly for higher levels of encryption.
At the heart of hardware encryption is a separate processor dedicated to the task of authentication and encryption. Hardware encryption is increasingly common on mobile devices the TouchID fingerprint scanner on Apple iPhones is a good example.
The technology still relies on a special key to encrypt and decrypt data, but this is randomly generated by the encryption processor. Often hardware encryption devices replace traditional passwords with biometric logons (like fingerprints), or a PIN number that is entered on an attached keypad.
Hardware encryption is considered to be safer than software encryption because the encryption process is kept separate from the rest of the machine. This makes it much harder to intercept or break.
The use of a dedicated processor also relieves the burden on the rest of your device, making the encryption/decryption process much faster.
Typically hardware-based encrypted storage is much more expensive than a software tool. BitLocker is included as free with all new versions of Microsoft Windows for instance, but an encrypted USB thumb drive is quite expensive especially when compared to an unencrypted alternative.
If the hardware decryption processor fails, it becomes extremely hard to access your information.
Encrypted data is extremely hard to recover. Even if the raw sectors are recovered from a failed drive, it is still encrypted which means it is still unreadable. Some software encryption systems, like BitLocker, have built-in recovery mechanisms but you need to have set up your recovery options in advance.
Hardware encrypted devices dont typically have these additional recovery options. Many are designed to prevent decryption in the event of a component failure, stopping determined hackers from disassembling them.
The fastestand most effective way to deal with data loss on an encrypted device is to ensure you have a complete backup stored somewhere safe. For your PC, this may mean copying data to another encrypted device. For other devices, like your smartphone, backing up to the Cloud provides a quick and simple economy copy that you can restore from. As an added bonus, most Cloud services now encrypt their users data too.
Im normally loathed to put in a call us sign off to a blog post, but in the event that you dont have a current backup, you will need to seek professional assistance. Our engineers can provide advice and guidance, but depending on the complexity of the encryption algorithm used, they may not be able to guarantee successful recovery. That said, what we would do is ask you to send in the entire laptop/computer as there may be hardware components not held within the hard drive itself but is critical to decrypting the data.
If you are having problems with an encrypted device, and would like to discuss your options, please get in touch.
- Download BestCrypt Volume Encryption 3.78.05 / 4.01.09 Beta - July 26th, 2018
- End-to-end encryption - Wikipedia - July 24th, 2018
- Download Symantec Encryption Desktop 10.4.0 Build 1100 - July 15th, 2018
- HTTPS - Wikipedia - July 10th, 2018
- AES encryption - June 20th, 2018
- Encrypt email messages - Outlook - June 20th, 2018
- Download Sophos Free Encryption 22.214.171.124 - softpedia.com - June 19th, 2018
- Does Skype use encryption? | Skype Support - June 16th, 2018
- Encryption- Computer & Information Security - Information ... - May 25th, 2018
- Enable BitLocker on USB Flash Drives to Protect Data - May 25th, 2018
- Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) - msdn.microsoft.com - April 12th, 2018
- Encryption Software Market - Global Forecast to 2022 - March 24th, 2018
- What AES Encryption Is And How It's Used To Secure File Transfers - March 24th, 2018
- Encryption vs. Cryptography - What is the Difference? - March 24th, 2018
- Energy-efficient encryption for the internet of things | MIT News - February 16th, 2018
- The Best Encryption Software - TopTenReviews - February 16th, 2018
- File-Based Encryption | Android Open Source Project - February 7th, 2018
- Beyond Encryption | Secure Enterprise email using existing ... - February 1st, 2018
- Azure Search enterprise security: Data encryption and user ... - January 26th, 2018
- Skype finally getting end-to-end encryption | Ars Technica - January 13th, 2018
- FBI chief says phone encryption is a 'major public safety issue' - January 13th, 2018
- Encryption and Export Administration Regulations (EAR) - December 27th, 2017
- Key (cryptography) - Wikipedia - December 21st, 2017
- security - Fundamental difference between Hashing and ... - December 15th, 2017
- What Is Encryption? | Surveillance Self-Defense - December 4th, 2017
- Comodo Disk Encryption Download - softpedia.com - December 1st, 2017
- Encryption - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - November 24th, 2017
- BitLocker Drive Encryption Overview - technet.microsoft.com - November 23rd, 2017
- The Encrypting File System - technet.microsoft.com - November 18th, 2017
- FBI cant break the encryption on Texas shooters smartphone - November 13th, 2017
- DOJ: Strong encryption that we dont have access to is ... - November 13th, 2017
- DOJ Fires Up New War With Apple Over Encryption - November 12th, 2017
- Security Awareness - Encryption | Office of Information ... - October 15th, 2017
- Data Encryption and Decryption (Windows) - October 14th, 2017
- Trumps DOJ tries to rebrand weakened encryption as responsible ... - October 11th, 2017
- How to encrypt (almost) anything | PCWorld - September 22nd, 2017
- Private Internet Access | VPN Encryption - September 21st, 2017
- Encryption Substitutes | Privacy | Encryption - September 21st, 2017
- Data Encryption: Hardware & Software Security: Online ... - September 21st, 2017
- How To Enable BitLocker Drive Encryption In Windows 10? - September 21st, 2017
- PGP Encryption Tool - iGolder - September 21st, 2017
- encryption - How to encrypt String in Java - Stack Overflow - September 21st, 2017
- Encryption Software Market, Size, Trends and Forecast 2020 - September 21st, 2017
- Encryption Definition - Tech Terms - September 20th, 2017
- Why You Should Be Encrypting Your Devices and How to Easily Do It - Gizmodo - September 6th, 2017
- Black Hats, White Hats, and Hard Hats The Need for Encryption in Mining and Resources - Australian Mining - September 6th, 2017
- How can enterprises secure encrypted traffic from cloud applications? - TechTarget - September 6th, 2017
- Encryption Explained - Arizona Daily Wildcat - September 6th, 2017
- News in brief: Call to link encryption to ID; Facebook maps everyone ... - Naked Security - September 2nd, 2017
- 'Independent' gov law reviewer wants users preemptively identified before they're 'allowed' to use encryption - The Register - September 2nd, 2017
- High-Dimensional Quantum Encryption Performed in Real-World ... - Futurism - September 2nd, 2017
- It's Time to Replace Your Encryption-Key Spreadsheet - Data Center Knowledge - September 2nd, 2017
- Legislation to limit smartphone encryption 'may be necessary,' deputy AG Rosenstein says - Washington Times - August 31st, 2017
- Cloud Encryption Market by Component, Service Model, Organization Size, Vertical And Region - Global Forecast to ... - Markets Insider - August 31st, 2017
- Cipher Suites: Ciphers, Algorithms and Negotiating Security Settings - Hashed Out by The SSL Store (registration) (blog) - August 31st, 2017
- Encryption in Office 365 - Office 365 - August 29th, 2017
- Need-to-Know Only: Use Encryption to Make Data Meaningless to ... - Security Intelligence (blog) - August 29th, 2017
- Four strategies to prevent data encryption from hijacking your network - Digital News Asia - August 29th, 2017
- Amber Rudd is wrong - real people do want end-to-end encryption - ITProPortal - August 29th, 2017
- Why encryption is for everyone - IFEX - August 29th, 2017
- 4D quantum encryption successful in first real-world test - New Atlas - New Atlas - August 29th, 2017
- For the First Time Ever, Quantum Communication is Demonstrated in Real-World City Conditions - Futurism - August 26th, 2017
- High-Dimensional Quantum Encryption Takes Place in Real-World ... - Photonics.com - August 26th, 2017
- Hedvig Bakes Encryption into Software-Defined Storage Platform - IT Business Edge (blog) - August 26th, 2017
- Hedvig storage upgrade adds flash tier, encryption options - TechTarget - August 26th, 2017
- How to use EFS encryption to encrypt individual files and folders on Windows 10 - Windows Central - August 26th, 2017
- Cloud Encryption Market Worth 2401.9 Million USD by 2022 - Markets Insider - August 23rd, 2017
- To Protect Genetic Privacy, Encrypt Your DNA - WIRED - August 23rd, 2017
- Data Encryption in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online - August 21st, 2017
- Researchers use encryption to keep patients' DNA private - Engadget - August 21st, 2017
- Additional proof that Lancaster County Commissioners should reconsider encrypting police transmissions - LancasterOnline - August 21st, 2017
- iPhone Secure Enclave firmware encryption key leaked - TechTarget - August 21st, 2017
- Encryption, speed push the modern mainframe into the future - TechTarget - August 21st, 2017
- Encryption Technology Could Protect the Privacy of Your DNA - Gizmodo - August 21st, 2017
- Beginner's guide to Windows 10 encryption - Windows Central - August 18th, 2017
- Encryption key for iPhone 5s Touch ID exposed, opens door to further research - AppleInsider (press release) (blog) - August 18th, 2017
- How security pros look at encryption backdoors - Help Net Security - August 18th, 2017
- The Laws of Mathematics and the Laws of Nations: The Encryption Debate Revisited - Lawfare (blog) - August 18th, 2017
- 72 percent of security pros say encryption backdoors won't stop terrorism - BetaNews - August 18th, 2017
- Ex-MI5 Boss Evans: Don't Undermine Encryption - Infosecurity Magazine - August 14th, 2017