What is encryption?

Data encryption is like a secret code that keeps confidential files or information safe from prying eyes. In the computing world, encryption is used to protect the files and data of any computer or device user, from home users to huge corporations. Essentially, a computer program translates private, confidential, and other data into a different, unreadable form using an encryption key. When it’s in that encrypted form, only someone with the unique decryption key or password can translate the data back into a readable or usable form. 

Sometimes, encryption is used maliciously. For example, ransomware is a type of malicious software (or “malware”) that can infect your computer, then encrypt your files and demand you pay a ransom to get your files back. Even if you pay the money within the time limit the criminals specify, there’s no guarantee they’ll give you the key to restore your files, or that the key will even work. Otherwise, encryption is one of the most effective and widely used forms of data security available.

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