Encryption is a term you’ve likely heard of hundreds of times in your life. You see it on-screen all the time when the heroes either have to decrypt or encrypt some critical data.
Encryption is the foundation of security. It refers to a process of transforming data into indecipherable code. The only way to access the data is by having the right key.
In this guide, we’ll review three easy ways you can encrypt your passwords (and other secret notes) to help you improve your safety in the online world.
Why Encryption is Important?
Identity and other digital threats are on the rise. In 2019, 8.5 billion accounts were exposed. And that’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cybercrime. Other threats include ransomware attacks, malware, and social engineering scams.
Encryption is the easiest and most effective way of protecting yourself. By transforming your data into an unbreakable code, you prevent fraudsters and other outside eyes from getting their hands on your login credentials.
Before you encrypt your passwords, make sure they are worth encrypting. Hackers don’t even need to steal your password if it’s “password.” They have plenty of other ways to crack your accounts.
Follow these password basics to secure all your accounts:
- Passwords must be eight characters at a minimum, but longer is better.
- Use a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Have a one-of-a-kind password for every account.
- Never reuse your passwords.
3 Ways to Encrypt Your Passwords
1. Password Manager
The easiest way to encrypt your password is with a password manager. You can use a free password manager to generate and keep track of all the passwords to your online accounts. They can also safeguard your credit card details and other short notes.
Password managers are an encrypted vault that only you have the key to. You access it with a master password. Once unlocked, you can log in anywhere online. You can store your social media, bank account, employee login, and anything else you want kept secure.
Password managers are personal, meaning that only you have access to your vault. The best companies use a practice known as “zero-knowledge encryption.” So even they can’t see what’s inside your password manager.
Password managers give you two layers of protection. Not only can you use them to create much more secure and unique passwords for all your accounts, but you also won’t even need to type in your passwords. It means hackers can’t use malware like keyloggers against you.
2. Encrypted Text Files
This method is a little more old school. First, create a text file on your computer where you store your passwords. With this master list, you can then access your passwords and copy and paste them whenever you need to use them.
However, you must encrypt these files anytime they’re not in use. Apps like WinZip are both free and easy to use. You click on the file and enable password security on it. To open the zip, you have to enter the password. Make sure to use one that is not easy for anybody to guess.
Do note this method is nowhere near as secure as a password manager. If your computer becomes infected with malware while the file is in an unprotected state, you risk the exposure of your passwords.
Note: Many apps like Microsoft Word allow you to password-protect documents. But it is not as secure as encryption either.
3. Different Forms of Authentication
You can also add another layer of protection to your accounts with varying methods of authentication. You’ve probably already done this without realizing it. When you use a social login with your Facebook or Google account, you bypass the traditional security methods.
But social logins aren’t that safe either. If somebody gains access to one of these accounts, they can log in to all the connected accounts. Tools like Google Authenticator or Mozilla Persona, meanwhile, allow you to log in using your verified devices (usually your smartphone).
Once again, you have the benefit of not needing to input your information via the keyboard. It prevents some cyber-attacks from happening to you.
With Authenticator, for example, you receive a notification that somebody is trying to login to your account. You then enter a six-digit number to confirm that person is you.
It’s not encryption per se, but this strategy is pretty useful. It’s even more secure when combined with a password manager.
Easiest Way to Encrypt Passwords
The easiest and best way to encrypt your password is with a password manager. They’re not only secure but also straightforward to set up and use. And, you can find both free password managers as well as affordable premium options.