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The Importance of Laptop Encryption

You are sitting at your local train station waiting for your train to arrive taking you to London for the day, you get up to put your coffee cup in the bin across the other side of the platform turning your back for just 30 seconds… when you look back you realise your laptop bag has gone. You go through frantic searching, did I leave it downstairs while collecting my ticket, did I leave it by the coffee bar, but then the fear sets in…it has been stolen. By this time the thief is long gone, you are without your laptop (what’s your boss going to say!), you have no access to your email or documents for the day, but even more worryingly all your sensitive customer data could be potentially released in to the wrong hands. Then you remember last week your companies IT guy came in and setup encryption on all the company laptops, you breathe a sudden sigh of relief, all your sensitive customer information is safe.

What is Encryption and how does it work?

Encryption is a method that can be used to scramble the data stored on your laptop or on external media like USB keys. This makes it virtually impossible for hackers to decode the information without knowing your individual password or encryption key – even if they get their hands on the media on which your data is stored.

Encryption is very secure because it rearranges the data in such a way that it’s virtually impossible to make sense of until it has been decrypted. In a 2002 test, it took 331,000 people four years to crack a relatively low level of encryption.

You would be required to type in a password each time you boot the computer to decrypt/unlock the drive, once this is done you can continue to use the laptop as normal.

Why do I need Encryption? I have a password to login, isn’t this enough?

Even if a laptop is password protected, with a screwdriver it’s easy to remove the hard disk, hook it up to another computer and copy files. If that data includes sensitive business information, it could harm your company or even leave you in breach of data protection law.

Encryption enforces your right to privacy. Most of us have sensitive information on our hard drives that is not for public viewing. This content can range from financial information to private correspondence that we’d rather no one else access. The best way to protect this content is to encrypt those files and folders. Even if encrypted data is stolen or accessed without your knowledge or permission, it is useless without the password to decode it.

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