Encryption software encrypts and decrypts data in the form of files, removable media, emails messages or packets sent over computer networks. File encryption is a form of disk encryption where individual files/directories are encrypted by the file system itself. The software executes an algorithm that is designed to encrypt data in a way that it cannot be recovered without a key. Encryption is an important part of computer communication and file protection in modern times. Such software are mainly used to protect sensitive data from third parties.
1. GNU Privacy Guard
GnuPG is a freeware that allows you to encrypt and sign your data and communication. Also known as GPG, it is a command line tool with features that facilitate easy integration with other appliances. A large amount of fronted applications and libraries are available, and v2 of GPG also provides support for S/MIME. Version 1.4.13 is the well-knows and portable standalone version, and version 2.0.20 is the enhanced and harder-to-build version. The Windows version of GnuPG is well integreated into an installer and features many fronted, English and German manuals.
TrueCrypt is a freeware application that is used for on-the-fly encryption or OTFE. It creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file, or encrypts a partition or the entire storage device. TrueCrypt supports individual algorithms such as AES, Serpent and Twofish. Five different combinations of cascaded algorithms are also available. The cryptographic hash functions that TrueCrypt uses are RIPEMD-160, SHA-512 and Whirlpool. This application supports parallelized encryption for multi-core systems and pipelined read/write operations. On newer processors, TrueCrypt supports hardware-accelerated AES to further improve performance.
AxCrypt is a freeware is a software application designed for encryption and decryption of files. It uses an AES algorithm with a key length of 128 bits. AxCrypt creates an archive that contains additional metadata along with the encrypted data file. The original file is deleted after encryption. Currently, it is available in English, German, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Italian and Swedish. The application also has a built in file shredder. The freeware is a good complement to services like Dropbox, Live Mesh, SkyDrive, Box.net etc.
7-Zip is an open source file archiver which operates with the 7z archive format. It can also read and write many other archive formats, and can be used from a command line interface, graphical user interface or with window-based shell integration. 7-Zip won the SourceForge.net 2007 community choice award for “Technical Design” and “Best Project”. By default each archive created can contain multiple directories and files. Security and size reduction is achieved using a stacked combination of filters such as pre-processors, compression algorithms and encryption filters. The most commonly used algorithms for this freeware are bzip2, LZMA2 and LZMA.
5. AES Crypt
AES Crypt is a freeware that uses the industry standard Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Encryption/decryption is extremely simplified on this software, as it uses a powerful 256-bit encryption algorithm. The AES encryption algorithm is a ‘block cypher’, and since its adoption as a standard, it has become one of the world’s most popular encryption algorithms that uses symmetric keys for encryption and decryption. This means that the same key is used for both encrypting and decrypting data. AES Crypt is an open source software, and also has a compatible Android program known as ‘Crypt4All’.