Most computer users need to use encryption from time to time. Encryption is the process of converting a computer file from one that is readable to one that is ‘scrambled’ and can only then be read after it has been decrypted by entering a private password.
If file that you are concerned about can be discovered accidentally or otherwise by another person or agency, encryption will prevent them from accessing your personal information.
An excellent tool to help with file encryption is TrueCrypt. If you vist their website you will find a wealth of ‘howto’ information, along with a lot of background information on encryption.
UPDATE – Truecrypt has been discontinued, but is still available. Some alternatives are available.
A major ‘plus’ for this software is that it is Free and Open Source. It is also Multi-platform, meaning that you can use it on Mac, Windows and Linux.
One of its more interesting features is its ability to have two passwords for each encrypted file or disk. Using different passwords will decrypt a different hidden file or disk (if you wish). This allows you to give up some apparently secret files if you are compelled to divulge them, whilst keeping the real ones hidden.
Be warned that if you forget the password, your data is gone. It is beyond modern technology to decrypt such hidden data, if the recommended guidelines for setting them up are followed.