What is a vector file? How to identify a vector file, and which apps you can use to view or edit them

designer
Vector files usually come in just four different types.

  • A vector graphics file is an image that can be made infinitely large or small without losing quality.
  • Common vector file types include .AI (Adobe Illustrator), .EPS (Encapsulated Postscript), and .SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics).
  • You’ll need a compatible app to edit a vector file, but you can view them with most image programs or web browsers.
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In general, you see two types of images on your computer: Raster graphics and vector graphics. Rasters are most common, but vectors play a critical role in graphic design and website building.

But what is a vector? And how can you quickly identify a vector file?

Here’s what you should know.

What is a vector file?

Again, there are generally two types of images you’ll see online and in apps, rasters (also known as bitmaps) and vectors.

The distinction between them can seem complicated, but is actually quite simple. Raster graphics are made of a grid of pixels, each one of which is assigned a precise color. Vectors, on the other hand, are built from mathematically defined shapes like lines and curves.

This means that vector graphics can be infinitely resized without losing any sharpness or color quality, which is great for projects that need high quality images.

vector vs raster
Vectors and rasters might look the same when small, but rasters will lose quality when they’re scaled up.

But how can you quickly identify a vector file? Most vectors come in just a few different file types, making them easy to pick out.

Common types of vector files

In the same way that there are a variety of raster file types (.JPG, .PNG, etc.), there are a number of vector file formats, each used for a different application. Here are the most common vector files in use today:

How to open a vector file

What you need to open a vector graphics file depends on your goal. Here are your options:

  • If you want to view or print a vector graphics file, you can probably open it in most graphics programs, even if they’re designed mainly for raster images. Adobe Photoshop, for example, can open AI, EPS, PDF and SVG files, though the image is opened as a raster at a fixed resolution. You just can’t edit the vector and keep it as a vector.
  • You can also view and print (but not edit) most vector graphics files in a web browser – just drag and drop the file into your browser to see it.
  • If you want to edit a vector graphics file while maintaining its scalable, resolution-independent vector characteristics, you need to open it in a suitable vector graphics application, like Adobe Illustrator. If you don’t want to use Illustrator, you can also check out CorelDRAW (the second most popular application after Illustrator), or the free and open-source app Inkscape.

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Is Dropbox secure? Here’s how Dropbox has improved its security measures, and what you can do to protect yourself

Dropbox app
Dropbox is a cloud storage and file hosting system that has previously received backlash over security concerns.

  • Dropbox is secure thanks in part to its 256-bit AES encryption, but the service has been hacked in the past.
  • Because Dropbox is relatively secure, the largest vulnerabilities are often the end users and their security hygiene. 
  • To be safe, you should enable two-factor authentication, be wary of public folder sharing, and consider using file-level encryption.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage solutions in the world, supporting more than 14 million paying customers as of December 2019. Like most online services that have a long history dating back to the early days of the web, Dropbox’s past includes hacks and data breaches. 

The most infamous incident included the theft of more than 68 million account credentials in 2012 (hackers tried to sell this data in 2016), and the hack led to the company resetting passwords for millions of accounts in 2016. 

How Dropbox has increased its security level

In the years since, Dropbox has shored up its security substantially. Today the service’s 256-bit AES encryption and support for additional security tools like two-factor authentication is competitive.

Is Dropbox secure 1
Dropbox’s security is bolstered by 256-bit AES encryption.

The service authenticates all user connections to the server, whether it’s via a web browser or mobile app, and Dropbox uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) to protect data as it moves between Dropbox’s users and the servers.

Moreover, Dropbox routinely tests its own hardware, software and processes for security vulnerabilities, and makes sure to alert users if Dropbox detects an attempted login from a new device or location. There have been no known large-scale hacks on Dropbox since 2012.  

How Dropbox may be vulnerable

“Their current encryption standards make the odds of a hack less likely, but no cloud-based solution is completely safe from new and emerging threats,” said Kristen Bolig, founder of SecurityNerd. 

Aside from the risk of an attack on Dropbox itself, one of the most dangerous vulnerabilities is on the user end of the Dropbox experience. Users – especially corporate customers – routinely face phishing attacks and social engineering attacks designed to trick people into giving up credentials and access to accounts. 

And not all security concerns originate with hackers and criminals. Dropbox’s user base crosses international boundaries, and Dropbox may opt to share user data with government agencies and law enforcement from time to time – the service has formal guidelines that dictate its behavior based on official requests. 

How to protect yourself as a Dropbox user

All that means your risk of a data breach with Dropbox is low, but not zero, and there are steps you can take to ensure your own security. 

Chris Hauk, consumer privacy advocate with Pixel Privacy, recommended enabling Dropbox’s two-factor authentication. “This ensures that if a third-party attempts to log into your Dropbox account, you will be notified via email or text message.” 

Is Dropbox secure 2
Two-factor authentication is an easy step you can take to ensure Dropbox remains secure.

Simple human error is also a risk – Dropbox allows users to store files in easily exposed public folders, for example, so it’s important to be careful about where files are placed. 

And for the ultimate in security, both from accidental public folder disclosures as well as hacks, security experts like Security.org’s Chief Editor Gabe Turner suggest using file-level encryption on important files stored on Dropbox. You can encrypt and password-protect documents created in Microsoft Office, for example, or with a third-party app. 

This eliminates the risk of Dropbox itself accessing your files with the company’s own encryption key or handing your information to government authorities. 

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