Learn how to encrypt your data and keep it private

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limbi007, 123RF.com

limbi007, 123RF.com

Encryption is Easy

You don't have to be paranoid to realise that there is a war on privacy. Unless you protect yourself you have a lot to lose. Ubuntu and the stories in the Features section of this issue can help you beef up your defences.

I know the CEO of a company that, when he travels, the moment he leaves the building, the data on his laptop gets automatically scrambled. He doesn't know the password to decipher his data, and he cannot get it from the person who does know (a person who remains behind, safe in the company's headquarters) until he is safely settled in at his hotel at his destination.

You may think this is beyond paranoid, but, firstly, it is quite clear he read the XKCD comic Security [1]. Secondly, you must know that the differentiating business model of his company is that they offer security and privacy to his clients data over all else. If he is detained at an airport, he cannot provide access to his laptop (which could give access to the company's network via VPN) even if they did "beat him with a wrench." He cannot even show them the files on his machine's hard disk. If he is carrying around anything, an invoice, an email, that would indicate that, say, a whistleblower were using the services of his company, nobody would ever be the wiser.

You may think this is overkill, but everybody carries around precious data with them. How much do you value the files on your corporate laptop? How comfortable would you be with a stranger flipping through your personal photos of your family and the information of your contacts? Of course, it is not only airport security officials you should worry about. What would happen with your company if your laptop were stolen and all your files shared with a competitor? These are things that happen every day, and if you travel a lot, you are entering a lottery of it happening to you.

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