There was recently yet another case of an organisation passing around unencrypted sensitive data. I'm constantly shocked that these organisations don't use the great encryption technology that's been made freely available in the form of GnuPG. It's fast, it's free, it's reasonably simple to use. Why not start using it today?

First install GnuPG. I use OSX so I theĀ MacGPG2 package (MacGPG2-2.0.14RC2 at the time of writing) is rather handy. Download the zip file, unzip it and run the installer. Just a few clicks and you're ready to start encrypting data.

Example time. You have a file full of confidential data called confidential-data.xls. Enter the command gpg -c ./confidential-data.xls. It'll prompt you for a passphrase and then to repeat the passphrase. Pick something strong. Once this command is complete you'll have a new file called confidential-data.xls.gpg which is the encrypted version of your confidential data. Delete your original confidential data file now and store the encrypted version somewhere.

To restore your data you need to retrieve your encrypted file, enter the command gpg -d ./confidential-data.xls.gpg --output ./confidential-data.xls, and you're done. The file confidential-data.xls now contains the unencrypted version of your confidential data.

I use the command line, which you may not be comfortable with. It's not that scary and I'd encourage you to give it a go, but if you prefer your windows and your drag-and-drop you should look at something like GPGDropThing which lets you encrypt things just by dropping them on it.

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