Did you have a diary as a kid? If you did, I doubt you left it out in the middle of the living room for everyone to read. You probably locked the diary itself and then locked it in a secret drawer. Am I right? You didn’t need your entire family knowing who your 6th grade crush was. Totally embarrassing.

Imagine your computer or your mobile device is a diary. It’s got all you’re most grown-up secrets. Maybe it has tax information on it. Business information. Credit card info. It has what websites you frequent, where you download things, what you download, etc. You don’t want to leave it in the middle of the living room for the world to read. Trust me, it would be way worse than your little sister finding out who your 6th grade crush was.

Maybe you think you’re safe. After all, your computer and mobile devices are password protected. And that’s a good start, but that’s not the end of it. What if someone figures out the password or manages to hack into it? Then your computer is suddenly an open book.

So what do you do? You encrypt your data. You can encrypt certain files or entire hard drives! That’s basically the equivalent of locking your diary and then putting that diary into a locked drawer.

Encrypting files requires a little bit of software and a little bit of your time. But it’s worth it in the end. Some good software includes TrueCrypt, GNU Privacy Guard, Disk Utility.

Unless you’re working on super top-secret things on your computer, you probably shouldn’t encrypt your entire hard drive. But it may be a good idea to encrypt data like financials and other sensitive documents.

For more on the steps behind encrypting data, click here.

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