Each of us maintains a mass of data which we consider private. This includes data such as passwords, account numbers, banking information, business documents, and some information that is simply no ones business but our own.
Unfortunately, computers are very insecure places to store data. PC’s are constantly being subject to attacks from the Internet and notebook PC’s are frequent objects of theft. In addition, children or co-workers often have unattended access to our PC’s.
The best solution to securing data on a computer is to encrypt it. This protects your privacy even if your computer is stolen. Strong encryption software exists for all modern computing platforms, Linux, Windows, and MacOS. Not all encryption software is strong, however. Quite a few encryption packages contain backdoors to allow governments or vendors to retrieve data that you thought was secure. In addition, some encryption software, such as Microsoft BitLocker contain bugs which can allow a determined attacker to access encrypted data. Finally, to be considered strong, the encryption software must use a trustworthy encryption algorithm and a reasonable key size.
TrueCrypt is a good choice for encryption software. It is free and (relatively) easy to use. It uses trustworthy encryption algorithms such as AES-256 and Twofish and it’s developers are knowledgeable enough to avoid the kind of vulnerabilities which occurred in Microsoft BitLocker. You can download TrueCrypt, but it’s also a good idea to read the instructions.