Tech Tip: Should My Computer Be Encrypted?

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It’s another weekday afternoon in the airport, and you just cleared the TSA line and went to the pretzel shop for a quick bite before you catch your plane. You sit your laptop down to get a straw, and the next second … your laptop is gone. It’s not in sight, nor is the thief who stole it.

If you have a password on your laptop, that will likely prevent the thief from immediately having access to your private documents. What it doesn’t stop is someone removing the hard drive from your laptop and connecting it to another computer — suddenly your hard drive is sitting there, ready to browse, just like any other folder or drive letter.

What do you do? Encrypt it! A good first step toward protecting the hard drive of your laptop and other mobile devices is to encrypt it. With the drive encrypted, a thief can’t just pull it out, hook it up and suddenly have access to all your files. At least you’ve made it pretty hard for a laptop-napper to get to your data.

Alan Edwards, CISM, is chief information officer at Computerware, Inc., in Vienna, Virginia.

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