Personal Blog

How can I secure or encrypt the data on my hard drive?

If you want the data on your hard drive to be secure and unable to be read by anyone else, the data needs to be encrypted.

Encryption is a method of changing the data in to a format, which cannot be read without using a decryption “key”, this is usually in the form of a password. It should be noted that a Windows User Account Password does not encrypt, all it does is blocks access via the operating system and it can be easily overridden with the right know how or software. A Windows User Account Password offers very little in the way of security.

Anyone who processes or stores sensitive data, (personal records card data etc) should encrypt any sensitive files. Any sensitive data transferred over a public network or sent by email should also be encrypted; doing this will make the files unreadable if they were to fall into the wrong hands.

Sensitive data stored on portable devices, flash drives, external drives, CDs, DVDs etc should also be encrypted, in case they were to fall into the wrong hands.

The simplest way to secure a drive or an individual file is using encryption software such as Secure LockWare™ available from: http://www.buffalo-technology.com

For more secure and complex arrangements, such as securing an entire system partition or drive, “on the fly”, where the content of your entire drive is automatically saved encrypted, or TrueCrypt, the free open-source disk encryption software which works with Windows 7/Vista/XP, Macs, and Linux available from: http://www.truecrypt.org

It needs to be noted also that file encryption is only as secure as the passwords used. Dictionary words and names should be avoided when creating secure passwords and there should be a combination of characters including non-alpha non-numeric ones like these!ӣ$%^&*([

You need ideally to be able to remember your password without writing it down. One of the ways to do this is to say think of a verse or a saying and use say the first letter of each word. As an example:

“The cat sat on the mat” would make a code of “Tcsotm” that could then be interspersed with numbers and symbols such as [Tcs&otm! Making it even more secure. Ideally the whole password needs to be about 20 digits long to be really secure

To test how secure your passwords might be, there is the online facility at: http://howsecureismypassword.net/ Try it! Your results may be quite worrying.