I'm going to show you a quick way to encrypt files in Windows Vista. Note: this form of encryption only works for Vista Business Ultimate and Enterprise Edition. Any other Vista system will require manual encryption or software. (These guidleines should be very similar for Windows XP or 7 as well.)
First, here are some cryptography vocabulary words:
Encryption: the process of transforming a message into code
Plaintext: the message, before it is coded or after it is decrypted
Cipher: the algorithm used to encrypt the plaintext
Decryption: The process of making the encrypted material readable again
Now, here is how to do a basic encryption on a Windows operating system. The EFS (Encrypting File System) works as follows:
1. Click Start and click Computer.
2. Locate the file you want to encrypt.
3. Right click the file and select Properties
4. From the General tab, click the Advanced button (Next to attributes).
5. Select the Encrypt file option.
6. Click OK.
7. Click OK to close the file's properties dialog box.
Of course this encryption is mostly to stop people from gaining access to your files through a hacking attempt. It's much easier if they have physical access to the computer. Therefore strongly consider creating difficult passwords to protect even encrypted data.
What kind of encryption do you use to secure your sensitive files?