Hard drive encryption do I need it?
Recently I have been asked by an IFA and a mortgage broker to encrypt their hard drives, this is because of FCA’s rules on data security and they say[gdlr_quote align=”center” ]If you have employees who work from home or use laptops and portable devices such as USB sticks and CDs to store customer data, you should be vigilant about the risks of loss or theft. Unencrypted customer data should never be stored on these devices. [/gdlr_quote]
It is also worth noting that the information commissioner’s office advice is to encrypt you devices and hefty fines have been handed out to the government and businesses who lose their unencrypted devices.
I just wanted to go over what this covers and more importantly what it doesn’t cover.
Without any encryption, I can gain access to someone’s information in minutes once I have their system and this is how I am often able to recover their files and photos when windows no longer boots. With encryption, I am no longer able to do that without a password or some form of a key like a USB stick or a smart card.
Drive encryption prevents anyone without the required password or key to access your data on the computer that is encrypted. There are several ways to do this
- Folder encryption – as the name suggests only encrypts certain folders on your computer while this works it is not the method we recommend as folders can be missed and new folders outside the encrypted ones can be made later on by a program meaning you are not fully covered.
- Full drive encryption – This process involves encrypting your full hard drive so no folders can be missed and everything is encrypted.
There are a few methods to encrypt your computer or laptop from Microsoft’s BitLocker to 3rd party programs, some are free but in the IFA’s case, the open source programs were not allowed.
It is also worth noting that some laptops come with TPM which is a security chip and helps make the device more secure.
So in short, encryption prevents anyone accessing your files if your device is lost or stolen.
What is does not cover you from?
- Data loss
- Hard drive failures
You will need to use other programs to protect you from the above.