Our current world is so incredibly interconnected that even the boldest Sci-Fi writers of the past had never imagined it. The internet is, of course, the means of this interconnectedness. And on the internet, everything is built from the information that human users provide — even if they don’t mean to. Yes, we mean you, specifically.
Your own private or work-related information is out there. And it could always fall into the wrong hands unless you do something about it. That means taking matters into your own hands and encrypting all the data you don’t want available to the world. This guide describes the best free encryption software available today. Using these tools will help you take a proactive stance regarding your own data and safety.
Top five free encryption tools on the internet – The quick list
- Windows Bitlocker – A reliable encryption tool already bundled with every Windows after version ten.
- VeraCrypt – The preferred option of experts who need their encryption done with the best-audited tool in the industry. Available in every operating system.
- NordVPN – If security is on your mind, a good VPN service is essential. (By good, we mean you have to pay for it and never use free VPNs). NordVPN is the best VPN out there because of its power, versatility, and reliability.
- BCArchive – Among the myriad of Windows-based free encryption tools, BCArchive stands out because of its tremendous flexibility regarding encryption algorithms.
- PixelCryptor – This tool’s unique approach to key encryption and password management makes it one of the best as it combines innovation with practicality.
Data encryption: What is it?
Data encryption admits definitions from several points of view, from the seemingly trivial everyday angle to the most refined mathematical intricacies. Let’s start with the practical aspect that makes data encryption inevitable to protect your digital assets and information safe from unwanted third parties.
The encryption process needs two primary ingredients: an encryption key and an algorithm. The latter processes your original information (known as plain text; although it can be anything, not just literal, plain text) and scrambles it. Typically, The best encryption algorithms render an encrypted stream of data as random white noise. Hence, no pattern is discernable unless you have both the key and the algorithm to decrypt it.
Encryption renders your information secure from cybercriminals, online threats, and even governments. Encrypted data thus enables the communication of large amounts of information safely through the internet.
The Ponemon Institute authored the “2019 Global Encryption Trends Study,” which shows that 45% of the world’s organizations surveyed use encryption in some way to secure sensitive data. Unfortunately, most of the attention in the studies goes to institutional encryption. Nonetheless, numerous tools are also available for private users to leverage encryption technology at their will. This practice enhances personal safety online by hiding important information from the prying eyes of malicious third parties.
When it comes to critical data, encryption is not a luxury. It’s as critical as the data itself, whether stored in your local hard drive or a cloud server somewhere in the world, or traveling in a data stream from your computer to any designated target.
So how do you achieve encryption? What are the tools available out there for you to adopt encryption as part of your standard security policies? Well, plenty of those tools are available for you. They are free (in fact, most of the best encryption tools are free, open-source projects) and readily available.
But before delving into the details, think about a strong decryption key for yourself. In most cases, the encryption software will ask you to set a password as your encryption/decryption key. So do yourself a favor and always choose strong and unique passwords.
Remember that with passwords like “protected” or “12345,” even the best encryption protocols won’t prevent a hacker from decrypting your data. Yes, it can be annoying to keep choosing a different password for every task and remembering or keeping track of them. But the fact is that your encryption security will be as good as your password. This is the only opportunity you have within the whole process to insert a weak link into the chain. Don’t.
Here are some essential tips for creating good passwords:
- Each password must be unique and strong. Combine the use of both uppercase and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols.
- Don’t choose words that you can find in a dictionary. The most classic password hacking attack is called “dictionary” for a reason.
- Your passwords must be at least 15 characters long.
- Do not keep your passwords in a text file, your browser, or any other digital media that could end up online.
- Use one password for one task only. Never repeat yourself in this regard.
- Do not give your passwords away in emails, SMS messages, or other ways.
So once we’ve covered that, here’s the beef. We have a list for you that includes some of the world’s best free encryption programs. They will take you a long way in securing your digital life.
14 best free encryption software available today – The detailed list
Windows BitLocker is among the most popular local data encryption solutions. Many users prefer it. It allows you to encrypt a particular partition in your disk or the hard drive as a whole.