Encryption - Protecting Your Data
Being the IT "nerd" that I am, my idea of protecting important data is to keep it totally separate from the outside world. Thus, I very rarely carry any information or data around on laptop, tablet, smart phone, or usb drive that I cannot afford to lose.
However, that is not the norm. It does require more than one computer, and also several secure locations with redundant copies of the most important files. Most people don’t have that luxury.
I recently was asked about encrypting data on laptops, and that caused me to do a bit of research and testing of encryption software in my office.
There are tons of software packages out there for encrypting data. Some from companies you have heard of, and many you have not. Microsoft offers Bitlocker in Windows 8, and Windows 7 Ultimate version, but it really needs to be on a new computer that has that technology built into the hardware.
Being a fan of open source, I focused on no or low cost versions. I have not spent a lot of time on it, but so far, two pieces of software appear that I would use, depending on the circumstances.
Jon Jacobi, at PC World, published a review last October on DiskCryptor, which is easy to use and does the job by encrypting entire volumes on hard drives, usb drives, etc. Easy is the key word. He also mentions TrueCrypt the other one I would use if I really wanted to drill down to the folder and file level, with the option for hidden volumes, plausible deniability, etc. With a very well written 150 page user guide, it is definitely not for the casual user.
Encryption requires a good backup plan, because without the password, you can consider the encrypted data totally lost.