Information security is a very important consideration when using computer networks (including the Internet). Security is one of many reasons corporate IS departments exist.
However for your own personal and work-related communications, how do you ensure your emails and instant message conversations don’t fall victim to prying eyes?
With a distributed team, individuals might have valuable information that is transferred over the wire. Here are some ways you can encrypt the data you exchange with others.
To exchange secure messages via email, look into PGP. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy and works like this: if you want to send someone an encrypted email, first find your recipients’ public PGP key. The public PGP key is a cryptic batch of letters and numbers that, when used with plug-in software, will allow you draft the email to them. When the recipient gets the email, they decode the message with their private PGP key and can read the message in its entirety. For PGP options, check out PGP Corporation, and for a freeware option take a look at GNUPGP along with this instruction set. PGP mail plug-ins exist for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
If you are looking to secure your instant messages, conduct voice conversations, and swap files, Skype is a great tool. This VoIP program features full encryption that has yet to be compromised, not even the German government has gained access to it. Skype is cross-platform and runs on Linux, Windows, Windows Mobile, and Mac OS X.
Additionally, for encrypted instant messaging, BitWise IM is a second option. They feature a free Personal edition that offers cross-platform IM conversations. For business communications, BitWise Plus is available for a one-time fee.
(top photo credit: Flickr User ButterflySha)