Hard Drive Encryption

Multiple monitors with code on the screens and a pair of glasses in the forefront

If you’re using a computer or a detachable USB, the chances are high you have sensitive data on these devices.  Your personal finances are often on your desktop at home, your laptop at work may have confidential business information or, for James Bond, you have may have a thumb drive with government secrets stored on it.  

Whoever you are, and whatever sensitive information your device contains, you want to protect it.

Hard drive encryption refers to sophisticated encryption of data stored on a hard drive, rendering it unreadable to those without the appropriate cypher key or password. Hard drive encryption provides another layer of security from online threats, hackers and others with malicious intent who may seek to gain access to your private information.

The concept of file-level encryption is simple. When a file is written to the hard drive, specialized software automatically encrypts the data. Then the software automatically decrypts the data when it is read from the drive. When a particular file is opened and decoded, all other data remains encrypted.  

Whole disk encryption protects users against theft or accidental loss. Whole disk encryption encrypts the entire disk, including all types of files, by default. If an encrypted disk is lost, stolen, or placed into another computer, the drive remains encrypted. This ensures that only an authorized user can access the contents of the drive: sensitive files are protected.

Windows 10 Professional, Enterprise and Educational offers a free hard drive encryption program called BitLocker. This encrypted hard drive applies the encryption process across the entire drive, all while functioning as a standard computer. It is important to note that on a Windows computer, encryption is not the default.

Mac computers come with hard drive encryption enabled by default regardless of whether it is a personal or work computer. On a Mac, FileVault encryption happens in the background while your computer is awake and plugged into a power outlet.

Hard drive encryption offers a measure of security and protection that storing files on the cloud cannot match. A file written on an application that is encrypted, such as Word, but shared or stored on the cloud in an unencrypted form is not secure. Thus, individuals and organizations can unwittingly expose sensitive information to attack.  

Not all cloud-based platforms or applications encrypt data by default; before deciding what to use for your business, research is required.  It has, however, become standard practice for data to be encrypted while being transferred. When visiting a website, the “s” in https:// is an important signal of security. Often modern internet browsers will warn users when a site is not secure.

Scout Technology Guides are experts in information systems and security. When Scout partners with companies, we ensure that best practices in information security are used.

To begin exploring with Scout today, reach out to Matt, CEO and Founder of Scout.