; charset=UTF-8" /> ENCRYPTION | PC Speak: An Abney and Associates Internet and Technology Research Lab


Encryption–the process of encoding data so that it requires a special key to be read–can protect your data from prying eyes. Once the domain of spies, encryption is fast becoming an advisable precaution for businesses and home users: It’s your best tool for protecting your trade secrets and privacy.
Whether your encryption program is stand-alone or built into your e-mail app, the encryption process is the same: Data passes through a mathematical formula called an algorithm, which converts it into encrypted data called cipher text. These formulas require one variable from you–called a key–which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for anyone else to crack the encryption.