Tech Tip: For Ultimate File Protection Encrypt Your Hard Drive


It’s another Tuesday during the work week. You’re busy and on-the-fly at the airport. You just cleared the TSA line and wanted to stop at the pretzel shop for a quick bite to eat before catching your plane.

As you sit your laptop down at our table, you realize you forgot your straw. So, you get up quickly to grab one. And, the next second…. your laptop is gone! It’s nowhere in sight nor is the thief who stole it.

Having a password on your laptop will likely prevent the robber from immediately gaining access to your private documents. What a password doesn’t prevent, however, 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.

So, what can you do to stop this? Encrypt your hard drive!

A good first step toward protecting the hard drive of your laptop and other mobile devices is to block access to your files with coding protections. That is, to encode your information through encryption, a process of converting your plaintext files into ciphertext. Then, only authorized parties (such as you) can decipher it back into plaintext and gain access to the original information.

With your drive encrypted – and it’s not hard to do — 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 them to get to your data.

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

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