Do I need encryption software?

By Knot2Brite
May 21, 2009
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  1. Hello,

    I am in over my head here so please understand.

    A couple of times a year I will zip a couple of Word documents, an Excel spreadsheet and a couple of PDFs. My zipping software has 128 AES, I have no idea what that is but it's good enough for the software company, and I can put a 20 digit password in there. The zip file will be attached to an Outlook e-mail and sent away.

    I am not concerned with keeping the CIA out of my files and I have no reason to think that anyone is trying to intercept my e-mails. I just want protection in case the e-mail goes astray that some kid with a hacker program in his bedroom will not be posting my documents on You Tube.

    PGP, PKWare, etc. want me to purchase what appears to be very complex software packages so "I can be safe." I am ignorant in these matters so I would like some learned input. Is my password protected zip file a reasonable alternative?

    Thank you
  2. lopdog

    lopdog TechSpot Maniac Posts: 378

    I think your files are quite safe. The only way to open a zip-file with password protection is by a "brute force attack". There are a lot of software that can do this, and what they do is to try ALL possible combinations of letters (and symbols, if you want), or by reading words from a dictionary list (dictionary attack).
    I'm not sure how many passwords a modern computer can process per second, but my guess is somewhere between 100.000 and 10.000.000 per second.
    You can see some examples on how much time it would take to brute-force a zip-file here.
    And read about password cracking here.

    Bottom line: Unless your sending top secret government information you should be safe with your password protected zip files. Just make sure your password is good. Mix lower- and uppercase letters with numbers, and don't use existing words or personal information like names, places etc.
    You can also use an online password generator.
  3. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,275   +280

    lopdog is spot on :grinthumb

    There are some other approaches to secured email too;
    I like PGP (Pretty Good Protection) which is platform neutral (ie Mac, Linux & Window)
    for ANY email

    process goes like this
    create your memo
    run PGP over it
    copy the results
    paste into the email
    click send​
    your correspondent(s) need PGP also AND your public key to decrypt it
  4. sunxvogy

    sunxvogy Newcomer, in training

    ZIP with password is safe enough.

    Coz you have a looooog pasword :D
  5. ZoeButton55

    ZoeButton55 Newcomer, in training

    I think password protected zip file is safe enough. An extra Encryption program is not need.
  6. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,275   +280

    If the only universe you know is Windows AND all your correspondents are windows users too, then by all means use windows tools like zip.

    hint: there are other universes too :)
  7. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 10,074   +13

    there are plenty of free encryption programs and 7z is also a good compression program with encyption.

    If you are dealing with government entitities you are required to use certain levels of security, Consult the NSA and DOD handbooks.
  8. Char_X

    Char_X Newcomer, in training Posts: 209

    I think you don't need encryption software)
  9. lopdog

    lopdog TechSpot Maniac Posts: 378

    What's the point of posting this after 6 posts with real arguments and reasons why he don't need encryption software? :confused:
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