Why You Need to Encrypt Your Computer's Hard Drive

October 8, 2021

Why You Need to Encrypt Your Computer’s Hard Drive

Did you know that there is an easy step for you to take right now that can help to protect your privacy and security? Encrypting your computer’s hard drive is not only much more simple than you would think but it is also an important key to keeping your data private. Encryption is not only for large corporations or businesses, it is easier than you think to ensure that your data is secure.

Encryption can seem like a complex task, and you may believe that it is only necessary for large corporations or businesses, but in reality is incredibly simple and can be done by any individual. 

What Does Encryption Mean?

There are two ways to understand encryption and they each relate to the different types of data they work to protect. There are two types of data: data in motion and data at rest. Data in motion captures information that is on the move - such as text messaging! - where this data needs to be protected during ‘transit’. An example of encryption for this type of data includes end-to-end encryption, meaning that messages are encrypted from the sender such that only the intended recipient is able to decrypt and view the message. The second type of data is data at rest, which is what we will be focusing on for this article, this data includes information stored on computers or mobile devices. 

When you encrypt your hard drive, this means that third parties will be unable to view it unless they have access to your encryption key. An encrypted computer may require a passcode to log into the account to access information - this is an example of one method of encryption. 

Why is Encryption Important?

Encryption is a key part of ‘cyber-hygiene’, similar to washing your hands, it is a simple and basic part of preventative health measures. With cybercrime on the rise, it is more important than ever to be engaging in proper cybersecurity measures, encryption is one of the basic measures that almost anyone can implement. 

With encryption, you are functionally preventing anyone who should not have access to your information from viewing it. This is especially important in the modern era where the vast majority of people store their sensitive data - tax documents, pictures, health records, etc - on their personal devices. By encrypting your data, you are preventing it from being seen without your permission. 

Even if you think you have a strong password in place, your device is still not as safe as you think it is. Cybercriminals can easily exploit weak passwords and crack them within seconds. Furthermore, in the event of your device going missing,  this is a good way to have peace of mind that your files will stay safe. If you lost an unencrypted device that would be considered a security breach. It is not only your laptop that should be encrypted but also external devices like external hard drives and USB drives. This will all help to keep your data protected in the even that it falls into the wrong hands. 

How do You Encrypt Your Hard Drive?

There is a difference for Mac and Windows operating systems, but overall it is relatively simple for any user to encrypt their own data. 

On a Mac, you can encrypt your hard drive through system preferences > security & privacy. You should have the option to turn on FileVault which will then walk you through the steps of setting it up. 

On a Windows device, you can encrypt your hard drive through Settings > Update & Security > Device encryption. Then you should be able to turn on that feature. If you are unable to see this option then you should search for “Manage BitLocker” in your taskbar and then turn this option on.

What’s Next?

Although hard drive encryption is rather simple, some encryption methods are more effective than others, and it is important to consult an IT or security professional to ensure it is done properly, or get in touch with us.

Get in touch with one of our IT professionals today, we can help you learn more about encryption as well as other security measures you can take to keep yourself safe.

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