Encryption – what is it and why use it?

You have most likely been told, or read somewhere on the internet that you should encrypt your computers but never really understood why. Hopefully this blog will help you understand what encryption is and why you should use it to protect your devices.

 

What is Encryption?

I wont bore you with the in’s and out’s of encryption so in a nutshell…Encryption is the method of converting information stored in plain text (this blog is an example of plain text) into secret code that hides the information’s true meaning. The science of encrypting and decryption information is called cryptography.

 

To explain why encryption is important i always find it best to start with a real life example that can happen to anybody, gather round its story time:

“Its a Monday morning and you jump on the train to work, while rushing around to find a seat you store you bag in the overhead compartment as most people, you then take your seat and start browsing Facebook on your phone not paying attention to what is going on around you.

45 minutes later you arrive at your stop, get up and go to retrieve your bag only to find its no longer where you left it, you start panicking and wondering what the hell happened… Well while you where watching the latest cat videos you failed to notice that someone actually stole your bag from right above your head and has now made off with your laptop… the laptop that not only contains your private information but also that of your clients and contacts! 

You start wondering what to do next and then it hits you, you have just suffered a data breach and need to report it to the ICO under GDPR, now you really start to worry as you could face a huge fine and risk losing clients once you explain to them what happened.”

As your laptop did not have its hard drive encrypted the individual who stole your laptop would only need to remove the hard drive and plug it into another computer to access the data, this will take them less than 20 minutes… scary right?

Well this is where encryption comes in! If the laptops hard drive is encrypted then plugging it into another computer would be a pointless effort without the decryption key (a unique key that will be set once you enable encryption on your computer). If the individual who stole the laptop plugged it into another computer they would be greeted with a message asking them to either wipe the hard drive (known as formatting) or to enter the decryption key.

Now, because the hard drive is encrypted and the thief cannot access the data on the drive, you also do not need to report it to the ICO!

 

Now you have an understanding of why encryption is important, you are probably wondering how you can enable encryption of your computer… continue reading to find out how.

Windows Computers

If you have a Windows computer you can utilise its built in encryption tool called Bitlocker. To use Bitlocker you MUST have the professional (pro) version of Windows installed on your computer, to do this in Window 10 follow these steps:

  1. Select the Start button > Settings > System > About . Open About settings.
  2. Under Device specifications > System type, see if you‘re running a 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows.
  3. Under Windows specifications, check which edition and version of Windows your device is running.

If you are not running the pro version of Windows I highly suggest that you upgrade (find out why here), it will cost you around £99 to upgrade, here is a link yo Microsoft guide on performing the upgrade.

If you are running the pro version of Windows then great news! You can enable Bitlocker right now, here is a comprehensive guide to show you how enable Bitlocker. Alternatively contact us and we will be happy to assist you with this.

Apple Mac Computers

Apple devices have a built in encryption tool call FileVault which is Apples version of Windows Bitlocker. To enable FileVault on your Apple Mac follow Apples great guide here it explains everything in an easy to follow set-by-step format. Alternatively contact us and we will be happy to assist you with this.

 

Thank you for reading and I hope this has helped you understand why encryption is so important and the benefits it provides. For more tips & information about cyber security join our Facebook community here.

2 thoughts on “Encryption – what is it and why use it?”

  1. Nice to be visiting your blog again, it has been months for me. Well this article that i’ve been waited for so long. I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share.

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