We have all probably heard of the Morse code. You know, the thing which sailors, lighthouses, and older generations used to communicate through various channels. It was a cipher and only a person aware of the patterns was able to decode a message. So, sharing confidential information in Morse code was a bit safer than just blabbering about it in the bar. But what about today? We are sharing billions of files every day. Yet, we aren't even aware of what happens with those files, who can access and see them, and what could happen if someone with evil intentions could get their hands on that data...
Part of the problem is that we've become too reliant on big data companies to take care of cybersecurity for us, regular users. And they've been exploiting that reliance through blatant neglect of your rights and not working towards making your experience safer, but rather earning higher profits. But, let's focus on the really important matter at hand - files and their encryption. Let's look at file encryption, how encrypted file sharing is done, how it protects you and how Kraden implements it!
What is file encryption?
File encryption is a process of converting normal files into an unreadable format. The key word here is unreadable. However, with the right knowledge and/or possession of a cipher, this information can be turned into a readable format. Encryption prevents unauthorized access to the file, as only those with the decryption key can convert it back to its original state.
Why does it matter? File encryption is important for keeping data secure, as it ensures that even if the file is intercepted, the data within it remains confidential. It also allows for file sharing without the need to worry about the file being accessed by unauthorized parties.
You might not know it but most of the actions you make online are registered and the files you share are stored in one way or another. In of itself, this issue isn't all that big, but once it can be traced back and tied to a particular individual or user, then problems do arise. Both private companies and sometimes even entire governments spend time and resources trying to track and monitor you for their own personal gain. Whilst private businesses are mostly just trying to monitor your behavior patterns to show you relevant ads at the time when you're most likely to take action if obtained by the wrong individuals, your data becomes an extremely powerful tool that can wreak havoc in your personal or professional life.
We've talked about this in great detail on our blog about digital footprint (Learn more here
). Give it a read to know what are the major concerns with having a lot of data just floating around the digital space.
Getting back to the topic of encryption, a simple but reliable encryption method can prevent wrongdoers from accessing your data and from inflicting any kind of damage.
Different kinds of file encryption - what are they?
There are various methods of file encryption, but the most common is symmetric-key encryption.
Symmetric-key encryption is a process where the same key is used to encrypt and decrypt a file. This key is known only to the sender and recipient and is usually a shared password. In reality, the user doesn't actually need to remember a key. It isn't like a password. Developers of software solutions, programs, or applications put it in the code so that communication is possible for parties and the system ensures that the shared secret (that's the term given to the shared password) is exchanged without any actual involvement from the user. The system and the networks ensure that the exchange is authentic and genuine.
Another common file encryption method is asymmetric-key encryption. This process uses two keys - a public key and a private key. The public key can be used to encrypt a file, which can then only be decrypted using the corresponding private key. This method is more secure as it means that the private key does not need to be shared.
Kraden uses AES-256 encryption to ensure end-to-end encrypted privacy for the contents of every user's communications.
How file encryption protects you and your data?
File encryption is important as it helps to protect your data from being accessed by unauthorized parties. As mentioned, encryption makes it unreadable and without the private key (e.g. without possession of your phone, for example, in addition to obtaining your data) the encrypted data is still mostly useless. Why? Because no computer on our planet is currently capable of decrypting properly encrypted data within a sensible period of time. Here's a visualization:
Is it possible to crack AES 256?
With AES-256, a key can have 1.1 x 10^77 combinations and the best computer can crack this code in 2.29 x 10^32 years. That is approximately 200 times longer than the universe has existed so far.
Even if a file is intercepted, the data within it remains confidential as only those with the decryption key can convert it back to its original form. As you may or may not know, most hackers are now focusing on large databases that are run by companies who have lackluster cyber security or very important, sensitive information. They will hack into the database or exploit certain cybersecurity vulnerabilities to obtain the data. However, even if they do manage to complete such a malicious action, it will all be in vain, as we've mentioned, proper encryption will protect the contents of messages and conversations with bulletproof security.
How are encrypted files shared between parties?
The process of sharing encrypted files is relatively simple. As mentioned previously, the sender and recipient will need to have a shared password, known as an asymmetric key, in order to encrypt and decrypt the file. These are usually located on your device or on your service.
The file is encrypted using a file encryption program or script, written within a particular encryption protocol rules. There are many different protocols of encryption, one of which, AES256, was mentioned in the previous paragraph.
The app, after matching the passwords, uses the shared password to generate a key. This key is then used to encrypt the file. Once the file has been encrypted, it can be sent to the recipient via email, messaging, or any other file-sharing method.
The file can only be decrypted (seen in a readable format) by the intended recipient. The most secure version of encryption is called E2E or end-to-end encryption that happens on a P2P network. Regular world wide web connections require an intermediary server to store at least a fraction of your data or metadata, corresponding to your activities in order to have services available. It's just the way things work, and we cannot expect to reach web services without some kind of server interference. Nevertheless, on a peer-to-peer network, there is no need for a server, and files, as well as data, are exchanged directly. So, not even fractions of your data or any sort of metadata is stored. Kraden messenger is just one of the apps that utilize both end-to-end encryption and P2P connectivity (when possible) to ensure total privacy.
What kind of data is most vulnerable to leaks and is most targeted?
Hackers usually choose to target the following types of data:
- Credit card numbers
- Social security numbers
- Email addresses
- Banking information
All of this data is particularly vulnerable when it's not encrypted. So, by encrypting your files, organizations, and companies that handle them, follow your best interest and protect your rights and privacy. In the past few years, many great strides have been made to raise awareness on the risks of non-encrypting customer data.
Encryption usage within companies
In 2020, 56% of enterprises had implemented encryption extensively to internal communications and 27% implemented it partially.
Once obtained by the hackers or leaked, your data could be used for a variety of nefarious purposes, such as identity theft, fraud, or blackmail. Identity theft is very problematic nowadays with the faster globalization of services online. Even if the hacker is from across the globe, he or she can impersonate you and do all sorts of malicious activity, usually for financial gain.
Fraud is by far the most common criminal offense, committed with stolen data. Whilst identity theft requires careful planning and very cunning ideas, straightforward fraud does not. By accessing huge databases or obtaining leaked information (non-encrypted), fraudsters usually utilize quick cash-grab tactics. They take out hard-money or just small loans on credit, buy various easily re-sellable items on eBay, Amazon, StockX and try to maximize gains from a particular asset. Fortunately for regular users, most of their inflicted harm can be reversed. Your person shouldn't be held liable for the fraud committed by other persons, so your quickly obtained debts are written off and other claims aimed at you are taken back. With that being said, it is very tiring and stressful to endure it. Sometimes justice can take months, so it's best to trust services that encrypt your data and take these things seriously.
Messengers and data encryption - what you don't know
Most social media messengers store your message history in their servers. Even though this data is encrypted, storing and archiving someone else's private communications is a huge privacy concern and can even be considered unethical.
Apps like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Instagram - all have at least somewhat encryption methods in place, but they still store your messages on their server. In case of leaks or espionage, your data isn't safe. We strongly suggest avoiding unencrypted messengers as even a single leak or a single error on the developer end can lead to major repercussions and losses on your end. It's just not worth it, especially with secure and fully capable messengers around. Speaking of which.
Kraden - the world's most secure messenger app with encrypted file sharing and zero-knowledge architecture
messenger was built with the idea of creating a private and secure environment for communication. Our service revolves around the zero-knowledge architecture. It means that no one apart from you, not even Kraden can see your messages or file metadata. Some metadata may be stored on our servers temporarily until a P2P connection between the sender and recipient is established, but no personal information or message history is kept.
Kraden also works with end-to-end encryption using the AES-256 encryption standard that we happen to mention so often. Coupled with continuous improvements and updates, industry-leading developers, and a smooth user interface, this makes our messenger one of the most secure messengers out there.
So you see, encryption is a necessary measure for both protecting your data and preserving your privacy. In this guide, we have outlined the basics of file encryption and encrypted file sharing. We hope that you will now be better equipped to protect your data and keep your privacy intact. If you take these things seriously, we can strongly recommend becoming a Kraden subscriber and communicating in confidence and privacy.