In our feature on keeping your self-published manuscripts and book materials safe, we are looking at various ways a writer can safeguard their writing and keep their work safe, offline and online.
Wikipedia tells us that encryption is the process of encoding messages or information in such a way that only authorized parties can read it, and Search Security states that Encryption is the conversion of electronic data into another form, called ciphertext, which cannot be easily understood by anyone except authorized parties.
Should every self-published writer encrypt their work? It could be a minefield for writers who are not web-savvy and even for those who are! Take a look at the information about encryption technology and how to encrypt your machines from Colin Tankard, Managing Director of data security company Digital Pathways and then decide for yourself if you want to encrypt your machines!
Any device can be encrypted and this is done by a third party programme that can either be purchased to gain access to higher levels of encryption or by using one of the many freely downloadable versions for private individuals or companies accepting a lower level of encryption technology. Also, many PCs today come equipped with encryption the most common being BITLocker that the user can activate at any time, but frequently users do not bother. The benefit of encrypting a device is that the data remains protected should the hard drive be removed. Obviously if the user has employed weak passwords then the encryption could be by-passed by guessing the password.
I recommend using an encrypted memory stick – a good provider of these is Iron Key, Frank Morey
Also backup on your removable drive. Colin advises that if you are using an encryption programme on your device there will be options that enable you to either have any removable device connected in order to automatically be encrypted. Or you can selectively have files encrypted and moved to the removal device in an encrypted format. This is exactly the same process if you are backing up data to a mass storage device, network attached storage or even the cloud.
But ... how do us self-published writers who just wanna write go about ‘encrypting our machines’?
How To Encrypt Your Machines
Unfortunately there is no easy step by step guide to deploying encryption on a device says Colin. The reason is that the encryption programmes vary depending on the type of device, the operating system, the versions of software, such as windows, being run as well as the age of the device.
For example, most new computers and Macs have new chip-sets that come with encryption as part of their make-up. In this instance deploying encryption is simple. But in older devices the process is far more manual.
However, basically, the stages that you go through are the same and these are:
1. Activate the encryption programme
2. Select the target drive that you wish to encrypt
3. The programme will then either generate an automatic key or will ask the user to create a key - typically 16 digits
4. The programme will then give back a recovery key and this key number should be written down and safety locked away as it is the only way to recover the data should the user forget their passwords.
5. From this point some programmes may give other options such as encrypt USB drives but the final stage is to accept the key and the device will start to encrypt the data.
The time taken to encrypt the machine depends on the speed of the processor and the volume of data but can take many hours so it is not a quick job.
The encryption programme will either be in the download area if it has been downloaded or will be a option at the time of setting up the device. In both cases the programme will prompt the user to encrypt or not and then in general the user can follow the on screen messages.
If the user is in a post set up stage, most devices have a 'set up' or 'tools' area on their desktop and often this shows programmes which can be activated. So encryption should be shown here.
If there is any doubt, there is no harm in downloading another programme and installing it, but care should be taken that the device is not already encrypted as this would double encrypt the device which in its self is not a problem but it would dramatically slow down the device's operation.
Top Tips On Encryption And Manuscript Safety
With nearly 10 years experience of working with high net worth individuals and organisations, Frank Morey, CEO of security and risk management firm, Virtus Risk Management, is a highly respected and key influencer in the security and investigations industry.
Frank shares his wealth of knowledge and experience on about data security for self-publishers:
- I recommend using an encrypted memory stick – a good provider of these is Iron Key (www.ironkey.com)
- If you are connecting to public Wi-Fi in public, it’s recommended that you set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that can encrypt your browsing history and prevent hackers from retrieving any sensitive data or passwords. I-Twin (www.itwin.com) is a great way of ensuring secure browsing in public areas.
- Consider how you’re communicating sensitive information– instead of using e-mail, phone or text, use a secure messaging service like Vaporstream (www.vaporstream.com). You can also take safety precautions, including registering your laptop/gadgets with apps like GadgetTrak (www.gadgettrak.com) that can track lost or stolen items.
Read our full feature on safe data storage!