When it comes to privacy and electronic information, the operative word is encryption. Encryption is a conceptual method for scrambling information, using a complicated "key" that theoretically can only be generated by a computer in consultation with a specific person (the "signer"). The signed key is used to scramble the information prior to sending it, and a similar key is used (by the receiver) to descramble the encrypted information once it's received.
The fundamentals of encryption are what ensure people can't typically connect a computer (or other such smart device) to a wired or wireless network and see everything that's going on. Instead, in a world of encryption, what such a hypothetical snooper sees is a garbled mess.
Or to put it as simply as I can figure: encryption is digital information's locks and keys.
Encryption has been in the news a lot lately, mostly due to the ongoing dispute between the Federal government and Apple related to the government asking for Apple's help in decrypting one of the San Bernardino shooter's iPhones. Daring Fireball has been doing an excellent job tracking the debate.
We had two blog posts last year that are particularly relevant to these issues: one about how to utilize encryption for sending files, and another on how to use a secure operating system to compute with a higher degree of privacy than normal (for the Edward Snowdens of the world).
As always, if you have any questions about how you or your organization can be a more vigilant citizen in this world of cyber security threats, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 212.335.0044.
–Jeff Solomon Founding Partner, Techromatic