Information stored on computers is valuable to you and you don’t want someone having access to this data.  No matter how much effort you take to look safeguard your data, the human element is something that we can’t always control.

We’ve read or heard stories about USB memory sticks going missing and laptops being left in the back of taxi and numerous break-ins where computer equipment has been stolen.  Well what can you do to protect the data on these devices?  Encryption is what you need to do.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is a way to enhance the security of the data by scrambling the information and only with the correct encryption key can this data been accessed.

When I purchased my Windows 8 laptop, the first thing that I thought about was, how do I protect the information on it?  Windows 8 comes with an application called BitLocker Drive Encryption.  The laptop I use has a single hard drive of 700Gb and I ran the program and it provided me with 350GB of Encrypted drive, and this is where I store all my personal files.  Once the drive was Encrypted, in order for me to access this drive, I need to enter a password.  If I forget, then I need to enter a recovery key that was created at the time of the Encryption, which is kept safe.  Now I don’t worry too much about forgetting/losing my laptop as I know that the information on it is safe and secure. Help protect your files

For portability I also use BitLocker to encrypt USB memory sticks, so if I have to take any sensitive information with me I know that is secure as well.

If you don’t have Windows 8 machines, those with Windows 7 Ultimate or Enterprise versions, then this is available with the operating system.  For all other operating systems you can purchase Encryption software, but I have come across a free open-source program call TrueCrypt.

For businesses the important things to consider is the value of your data and the penalty that you could receive for loss of any personal or sensitive data.  More than 164,000 pieces of computers and communication equipment were stolen across the UK between March 2013 and February 2014, these figures were obtained by network security vendor ViaSat.  Almost on fifth of all thefts resulted in the loss of sensitive data.

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