Encryption is a method of encoding a file so that the data cannot be read without a correct password and a specific program.

Why should I care about encryption?

Just because your computer is protected by a login password doesn't mean that your files are safe from prying eyes. If your computer is stolen, the operating system's login screen can be easily bypassed, and there is nothing to prevent data from being read straight off your drive on another computer. The only way to prevent unwarranted access to your data is to encrypt it.

What should I be encrypting?

You should encrypt any file that you wouldn't want to print on a t-shirt and wear while walking down the street. Financial data, bank information, health and medical records should all be protected by encryption. If you have a list of your usernames and passwords for your various accounts around the web, this should definitely be encrypted.

How do I encrypt something?

Files, folders, and even entire hard drives may be encrypted. Care should be taken when storing the password that unlocks any encrypted data – modern encryption technologies are very powerful – if you forget or lose a password, your data may not be recoverable.

  • Files: Encrypting a file no one may view or change that file unless they possess the pass word or phrase. This is a good idea for files containing important data such as other passwords, financial information, or other such data that you would never want leaked.  Check the Help Documentation for your chosen software package – Microsoft Office has the built-in capability of protecting individual documents with a password.

  • Folders (Containers)  Tools are available that allow folders (or containers with multiple files) to be encrypted and mounted as they are additional drives (these appear similar to a connected thumb drive). 
  • Full Disk Encryption: It is possible to encrypt an entire hard drive. This encrypts the entire computer, meaning that the machine will require a password or pass phrase before starting. If you lose the pass word or phrase, your computer will need to be reformatted and all data will be lost! However, despite the risks associated with full drive encryption, it is the best way ensure that all your data is secure. 

    • Whitman Computers: If you wish to encrypt the hard drive of a Whitman-owned computer, please contact WCTS.
    • Personal Windows Computer: For your personal Windows computer, the best option for full drive encryption is BitLocker.
    • Personal Mac OS X Computer: Full-disk encryption is available on all supported versions of MacOS. See the Apple Support page for Filevault2 for details.