For entrepreneurs used to paying for every third-party service they use in their business, it is easy to dismiss free encryption services. Yet, not all encryption services available for free are ludicrous. In fact, a number of them might surprise you with just how effective they are in encrypting your business processes.
While no business can claim to be 100% secure from cyber criminals, it is in every business owner’s heart to seek the best encryption services and extenuate the probability of suffering a great loss in the event of a security breach. It would be of no benefit to offer threadbare excuses long after hackers have penetrated your business systems and carried with them your business secrets and customer information.
Given the unsecure nature of cyberspace in today’s world, operating system makers like Microsoft and Apple have added encryption mechanisms to their operating systems to secure hard drives. However, this built-in encryption does not encrypt the data you transmit. This means that for your business to be effectively secure, you need to employ other tactics.
The complexity of encrypting business systems is confounded by the lack of the necessary knowhow that many business leaders have when it comes to everything IT. Other entrepreneurs have no time or enough resources to implement encryption solutions that can effectively keep their businesses safe.
The following are free encryption services that businesses can use for free to secure their business processes including phone calls, files and data.
Free encrypted email services
The type of encrypted email service you should use is determined by the type of threat you intend to protect your business against. During the process of considering each security solution at your disposal, you need to keep in mind the magnitude and type of problem for which you are seeking a solution.
Some of the questions you should answer to make this determination include:
- Do you want to prevent your employees from intercepting and or accessing the content in your emails?
- Do you intend to protect your business from casual snoopers like those outside your premises trying to access your business Wi-Fi hotspot?
- Is there a specific security threat that you want to keep your business safe from?
- Do you want to protect your business secrets and data from spy-agencies of the government like the NSA?
If all you want is to protect your emails from being accessed by unauthorized personnel in your company, then a private email service like Hushmail would suffice. For more complex encryption tasks, you may need to go for an encrypted email service like ProtonMail.
If you fail to encrypt your business emails, you make it possible for anyone with the necessary skillset and enough motivation to intercept them during transit, like they would a postcard. This can be a serious security breach if your company handles sensitive information or if your business secrets are of awfully high value.
By implementing end-to-end encryption, you will protect your business emails during transit as well as protect the business network within which your email system operates. This, essentially, prevents hackers from accessing your emails even in the event of a successful penetration of your company security perimeter.
This is, perhaps, the most secure open source email service in the world. This application is designed by Harvard and MIT research students under the leadership of Andy Yen, a European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) researcher. It is available in mobile and desktop versions and its free version supports 4096-bit and 2048-bit encryption.
For those business executives who would want to do a better job at covering their digital tracks, ProtonMail has a feature that allows you to set your emails to self-destruct. What’s more, this free email service supports encrypted communications even when the recipient is not a ProtonMail user. For business people who would want some advanced features, ProtonMail has a premium version.
While there is a great deal of features that you enjoy with ProtonMail free account, it has its limits. For users with a free account, the storage space is capped at 500MB only. In addition, you would be unable to send more than 150 encrypted emails a day. For busy business environment, these limits can be frustrating.
One way to deal with that is only using ProtonMail for sensitive emails only. But if you feel that this approach would not be a good fit for your business, upgrading will cost you €5 ($5.3) for a premium account and €30 ($31.81) if you decide to go for the Visionary bundle. ProtonMail creators also allow users to buy specific add-ons they would want to use with the free account, including extra storage space.
Free file-encryption services
Every tech-savvy person knows that once your data has left your hands, you have little control over it, including your ability to limit the people who get access to it and what they do with it. Therefore, to make sure your data stays safe even when it is in transit, you should consider using file encryption services. One such service that is free to use is Sync.
What differentiates Sync from other cloud storage applications is the fact that it provides end-to-end encryption for files and is available for both Windows and Mac users. Additionally, you can access Sync when using an Android device.
You will also love the 5GB free storage space that is included with a free Sync account. For space storage above 5GB, you will need to switch to a business account that offers 1TB of storage space. This package has a monthly cost of $5 per user. Business leaders who love collaborating, Sync makes this possible in addition to allowing you to do administrative tasks easily through the admin dashboard.
The downside of using Sync to encrypt your files is that it uses type 1 encryption. While this level of encryption might be sufficient for a small business, medium sized and large corporations might feel exposed and unsecured.
Type 1 encryption does not encrypt the original data on your computer or other device. This means an attack on your computers and other devices could result in your business information landing on the wrong hands. For this reason, you must do due diligence to secure your devices through other means if you decide to use Sync as your file encryption service of choice.
Free encrypted mobile messaging services
Sometimes in business, we want to communicate fast and real time. In those moments, the fragmented and slow email exchanges would not do. The best option in these situations is instant messaging. Unlike SMS, instant messaging is more secure and often costs less.
If you know how to look for a good private messenger, you are already well on your way to exchanging business information with your employees, coworkers and clients through a secured mobile messaging service. No one wants to send sensitive information through communication channels with little or no encryption technologies that can ensure uninterrupted delivery of the message as originally intended.
The way most instant messaging apps work is by encrypting your messages before they are transmitted from your device to the recipient’s. This makes it impossible for any third party to read the contents of the message while in transit. Only the recipient will be able to see the message in its unencrypted form.
You may even find instant messaging apps that have a self-destruct functionality. This feature deletes the message as soon as the receiver reads it. While no encrypted mobile messaging services vendor will promise you that their solution is foolproof, most of the everyday privacy concerns can be adequately addressed by the use of free private messengers like Signal.
Signal mobile messenger is everything you would wish for in a private messaging app. This open source app makes it possible for iPhone and Android users to use end-to-end encryption when messaging. In addition, Google Chrome users can use an add-on to sync their secure communications between their mobile devices and their desktops.
Using Signal, you not only get access to instant messaging, you also enjoy calling your contacts at considerably low costs, based on the consumption of data of your calls. This is because the call takes place via the internet. This approach can save you a lot of money on the usual telecommunication platforms that are charged per minute.
The downside of using Signal is that for you to enjoy these functionalities, the recipient needs to also be using the application. The other user must also have a reliable internet connection for the call to take place with little or no interference and disruptions.
But for internal business environments, this is an easy choice where the management can require all employees to use the application to communicate all company matters that require immediate attention.
One Signal aspect that you are bound to love is perfect forward secrecy. This functionality generates new encryption keys every time you open the app afresh. By so doing, the app stays insulated from possible attacks. It also compartmentalizes every part of the information being communicated, making it practically impossible to intercept.
Encryption for the 21st century marketplace
The world is constantly evolving. A decade from now, the encryption technologies are expected to have made incredible strides forward, though hackers will as always be trying their best to keep discovering security loopholes and fault lines they can exploit.
To stay secure, therefore, every business leader must embrace a 21st century mindset towards security, especially when transmitting sensitive company information. Encryption is the future of communication for businesses. Hence, you ought to learn every trick needful to flourish in this ever-changing business landscape.