Data Encryption

When it comes to securing your data, I am sure you have heard the word “encryption” being thrown around. Without truly understanding what encryption is however you may feel a little lost and maybe even a little concerned that your data is not protected. If this sounds like you then you have come to the right post. In this blog post, I break down what encryption is and give you some pointers on making sure your data is encrypted. 

Before we being talking about encryption let’s first talk a bit more about data. Data can either be “at-rest” or “in-transit”. When data is at rest, it is not moving from one location to another. An example of this are pictures stored on your hard drive. When data is in transit, that means it is being sent from one location to another. In order to ensure that your data is protected from unauthorized access you need you will want to encrypt it while it’s “at-rest” as well as when it is “in transit”. 

Today we will talk about a method for encrypting your data “at-rest” when using a Windows based operating system. 

Encrypting Data At-Rest 

There are many tools on the market that will help encrypt your data while it is stored on your hard drive, an external drive or even a flash drive. One of the most popular tools, Bitlocker, is built into Windows and very easy to use. All you have to do to encrypt an external hard drive or flash drive is insert it into your Windows-based computer, open up Windows Explorer, right click on the drive and select “Turn on Bitlocker”. From there, you just need to follow the instructions and your external hard drive or flash drive will be encrypted. This is especially useful when you are working in an environment in which you must protect PII. 

If you want to encrypt the hard drive that you currently have Windows installed on you can do that as well. The following only works if you are using a professional version of the Windows 10 operating system. 

When logged into Windows, select the “Start” button on the bottom left-hand side of the screen. It’s the Windows icon. After you click on “Start”, click on “Settings’, then “Update & Security” and then select “Device Encryption”. If you do not see the option for “Device Encryption” then it is not available. This may mean that you are not using a professional version of Windows. If you do see “Device Encryption” and it is turned off then all you need to do is turn it on by selecting “Turn on”.  

Many people think that password protecting their Windows user account in itself encrypts data but this is a common misconception. Without following the steps above or using another method for truly encrypting your data it is possible for a security professional like myself or a unethical hacker to extract your data by cracking your password. Encryption is much harder to crack. 

I hope that you have a learned a little bit about data encryption. Thanks for reading. 

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