Now we have some basic understanding of how encryption, passwords are all related, we are almost ready to deal with how to choose encryption tools.
One reason I don’t just give you a list is as stated that this is a blog that focuses on concepts – tools gets outdated all the time; concepts are much more readily workable and applicable. So we’ll start with the concepts.
There is one thing about security tools; it’s an overhead for both learning and time that you’ll have to incur today, and I doubt that even with the best usability it’ll be zero, because it’s the same as driving a car – the more skills you have the safer you’ll be, and if you have zero skills you’ll be pure liability even without best wheels. So it’s important that you understand this – if you choose to be secure today, you’ll have to be willing to invest the effort to acquire the skills with the tools available today.
With that said – what the state of the art is… there isn’t one single tool for encryption. Each encryption tool is used for different purpose, and because you’ll incur the cost of learning the tool – you’ll need to decide whether or not it’s worth the cost to you.
For example – there are tools that are designed specifically for securing passwords, even in the manner that we have described so far.
But such a tool isn’t a good for for storing sensitive documents; especially if you need the storage to work well with the rest of the operating system (i.e. you can search for the existence of the file through Windows Explorer/Finder, etc). So you’ll need a different tool for storing sensitive documents.
Now – if you go ahead and type up a document with your passwords inside, and put into the file-based encryption storage, you do not need your password management system (and hence less learning curve). But you might find it more cumbersome to use the file-based encryption storage, because it’s not specifically optimized to deal with password usage.
Only you can determine whether or not the additional learning curve is worth it.
It depends on your requirement.
For example – so far in this blog we’ve defined the reason why you need a password encryption tool. Although we have yet to define the reason why you need a file-based encryption system, you probably have sensitive documents besides your passwords that you wish to have protected. If you do, and you have the time/energy to invest in learning both, than you should learn both.
If you only have time to learn one, then you’ll need to decide on the following:
- If you need to use it for both purposes, then a file-base system can be used for both; but more cumbersome to use for passwords
- A password management system can be used for mostly just the passwords (depends on the system you choose); so you choose this option if your password management need outweighs your file needs by large margin – i.e. you won’t bother with general file encryptions for now
Here’s a little diagram showing the decision flow
I’ll leave it to you to decide how much time you’ll invest in learning the tools. I’ll however, continue to discuss a few of different types of encryption tools and what they protect against in future posts.
We’ll start with general file encryption tools next.