Types of Encryption Methods for Selected Files - 3 Tips on How to Choose

16 Jan 2020 | Michael Waksman

Encryption is hard to understand. You might even say it's cryptic. People have many questions... What is encryption? How does it work? Which types of encryption methods are out there? Which solution is right for me?

The variety of encryption flavors on the market is vast. Having a choice is good, but sometimes confusing. There's encryption for files, containers, volumes and disks/drives.

Check our 3 tips and just in a few minutes, you can understand the differences and know why each one is useful to make an informed choice.

Main Encryption Methods for Selected Files

Disk and volume encryption provide an effective way to protect everything on your device from physical threats (e.g., stolen computers, lost drives). They don’t, however, help when your computer is actually turned on or when you need to use data and share files. In these cases, you need to either rely on…

  • File Encryption
    This method turns individual files into locked encrypted versions of themselves. Access is granted after entering the correct password or passphrase, and each file needs its own unique key.

OR

  • Container Encryption
    This method creates a password protected virtual drive that, when open, acts like any other drive on your system. When you lock the virtual drive, all the files you’ve put there are inaccessible.

     

3 Tips on How to Choose

Which situations call for file encryption, and when could you use container-level encryption?
Here are 3 factors to consider:

#1 Quantity

Icon for computer fileWith file encryption, as the name implies, you encrypt one file at a time. This is a great solution if you will only encrypt a small  number of files, or if you need to share a single file by email.

Icon for containerContainer encryption lets you secure many files at once. The more files you have to deal with, the more attractive it becomes to work on the container level.

#2 Management

Icon for computer fileWhile is still possible to move and share encrypted containers, they can be large and may include other files you don’t want to share. With file encryption you can share only the necessary files without worrying about size.

Icon for containerYou know that you shouldn't re-use passwords. So you need a unique password for each file you encrypt. Remembering them all would require superhuman memory. Yet writing them down creates a risk. When you use container encryption, you need to remember just one password per container.

#3 Risks

Icon for computer fileWith file encryption, each file is protected by its own unique password – meaning if your password gets exposed, only one file is at risk. On the contrary, with container encryption, one password can give access to many files – if someone steals your password, more data is at risk.

Icon for containerWith container encryption, all that's visible is the existence of the container. File encryption leaves more information visible. Normally the encrypted files keep their names and just change the extension (diary.doc -> diary.crypt). The name is a clue to the content. Other metadata, such as folder structures and file sizes, may also remain visible.


Happy encrypting!
 

Related Articles

5 Benefits of Container Encryption vs. File Encryption
How to Take Back Your Privacy in the Cloud with File Encryption Software

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Michael Waksman
Michael Waksman has been serving as CEO of Jetico since 2011, more than doubling the size of the company during his tenure. He brings more than 15 years of communications, technology and leadership experience.

At Jetico, Waksman has lead creation of the corporate identity, raising global brand awareness, building a more commercially-driven team and initiating enterprise customer relations. Jetico has maintained a wide user base throughout the U.S. Defense community, in the compliance market and for personal privacy.

Waksman is vice-chairman of the Cyber Group for the Association of Finnish Defense and Aerospace Industries. Recognized as a security and privacy advocate, he is a frequent speaker at international events, occasionally on behalf of the Finnish cyber security industry. In 2012, Waksman was honored with The Security Network's Chairman's Award for fostering collaboration between the United States and Finland. As a native New Yorker he has been living in southern Finland for over 10 years.
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