Thursday, March 16, 2017

Encrypt to Protect Files from Loss & Theft Using BitLocker

Unauthorized access. Theft. Corruption. These are words you never want to hear when it comes to your personal or business data. There are many ways to protect data, both physically and digitally, but choosing and implementing a plan can be overwhelming. One efficient and effective way to protect files from loss and theft is to encrypt files using BitLocker. 

Encryption is the process of encoding data using an algorithm and its key. When done correctly, encryption renders the data irretrievable unless the correct decryption key is provided. Encryption is a key step in protecting privacy when data falls into the wrong hands and is therefore critical for portable devices like USB drives. Portable devices, which are usually small therefore making them convenient backup devices, are easier to lose or steal. As a result, it is more critical to protect the data on these devices against threats.

Encrypt to Protect Files from Loss & Theft Using BitLocker

  1. Open Windows Explorer and click on "This PC" in the left pane to see all internal and external drives listed in the right pane.
  2. Right click on the drive to encrypt and select "Turn on BitLocker".

  3. The BitLocker software opens and begins initializing.

  4. When prompted, choose the preferred method for unlocking the drive. The available options are using a password or smart card.

    1. If a password is chosen, enter the password twice and click "Next".
    2. If a smart card is chosen, insert it into the computer or laptop and click "Next".
  5. If you choose a password, BitLocker will ask how you would like to backup your recovery key. A recovery key is important because it can be used to recover the data on the drive if the password is forgotten. After selecting an option, click "Next". NOTE: Whichever option is selected, be sure to protect this information and keep it separated from the encrypted drive. The available options for storing the recover key are:
    1. Saving it to a file
    2. Printing it

  6. The next step asks you to chose how much of the drive to encrypt. The two options are:
    1. Encrypting only the used disk space, which is faster, OR
    2. Encrypting the entire drive, which takes longer, but is best for drives already in use
    3. NOTE: It is important to remember formatting a drive does not erase the data on the drive, it simply removes the information controlling where files live. This would be similar to removing the glossary out of a book which does not remove the chapters, it simply makes it more challenging to find what you are looking for.

  7. The last step asks you to chose which encryption mode you want. The two available options are:
    1. New encryption mode which utilizes AES encryption built into most newer devices.
    2. Compatible mode for if you need to connect the portable device to older computers.
    3. Once an option is selected, click "Next".

  8. If you are satisfied with all of your choices, click "Start encrypting".

  9. The time it takes to encrypt the device varies based on the speed and size of the drive but you will be notified once the encryption is complete.

  10. Once completed, the drive appears in Windows Explorer as a new drive letter with a lock, in the unlocked position, next to it.

  11. Each time the USB device is plugged into a new computer or laptop, it will be locked and will have the lock symbol next to it.

  12. To open the drive, double-click on it and enter the password or smart card used when the drive was originally encrypted. If this is successful, the drive will appear and have an unlocked icon next to it like when it was originally created.

Encrypting devices is a great way to protect files from loss or theft. Businesses are more susceptible to attacks because they often have sensitive customer information. As a result, taking care to protect their clients' information is critical as reputation is a huge part of a business's long term success.

As always, knowing how to implement an easy and reliable way to prevent data loss and theft is invaluable if you have anything at all worth protecting!

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