#018: Why You Need to Encrypt Your Hard Drive and How to Do It

Why You Need to Encrypt Your Hard Drive and How to Do ItIn this episode of The Power Up Project, we cover:

〉Why data encryption is important for data security

〉Simple steps on how you can start protecting your data




In this episode of The Power Up Project, I’m going to be talking about why you should be encrypting the data on your laptop.

Hey, welcome to this episode of The Power Up Project. I am Ben Love, your host, coming at you directly from Orlando in Florida. If you can hear ‘The Girl From Ipanema’ playing gently in the background there, please excuse the distraction. Today’s topic is encrypting the data on your laptop hard drive. I’m going to start with the first question around that though is ‘Why would you do that?’ Well, we all know that encryption is basically scrambling the data that you have stored in such a way that only you can read it. If that data gets into somebody else’s hands, they will not be able to read it. Why would you want to do that? Well, let’s say that you lose your laptop. Let’s say that it gets stolen from the office. Let’s say that you leave it in a taxi.

That means if you have an unencrypted hard drive, it means that the person who stole that laptop can very easily take that hard drive out of your laptop, put it in another computer or put it into a little USB caddie, and they will have full access to every bit of information that’s on that hard drive. Now, that’s quite terrifying, particularly if you work with really sensitive information, particularly if you have personal information for your client, such as credit card details or healthcare related information. You can really see it could be a very smart idea to make sure that your laptop hard drives are encrypted.

Now, in Australia, we also have a thing called the Mandatory Data Breach Notification Scheme. This is basically a law that states that if information is lost from your organisation somehow and that information has the potential to cause significant harm for other people, then you must notify the authorities. Now, this can be quite a daunting thing to face for organisations, but one of the great ways to make sure that you don’t have to notify is to make sure that the data on that laptop hard drive is encrypted because in that case, nobody will actually be able to read the data. Now, I’m not a lawyer, that is not legal advice, but that is anecdotally what we’re seeing happening in the industry. We can probably agree by this point that it is a good idea to encrypt the data on your laptop hard drive. How do we do that?

Well, in Windows 10 Professional and Windows 10 Enterprise, there’s a great little feature called BitLocker. On macOS, there is a feature called FileVault. They all do basically the same thing. Basically, they run behind the scenes there and will encrypt every bit of information on your laptop hard drive there so that you and only you can access it. Now, there are various requirements to be able to turn on BitLocker in Windows 10 primarily around the hardware in your laptop. You need a little thing called a TPM chip, but most of the business grade laptops that are out there that Grassroots IT works with will have a TPM chip in there. The macOS hardware already has everything that it needs in there as well, so you should be good to go.

After that, there’s just a few little settings that need to be turned on to enable that file encryption. Now, that can either be turned on manually per computer or if you have a fleet of computers in your organisation where we need to turn on BitLocker, we can do so centrally with what’s called a group policy. We can talk to your IT person. We can just push that out to all the machines in your network and make sure that’s done. It is a very easy process to step through, it is very secure and reliable, and it will potentially save you a whole lot of heartache further down the track. But, the question remains then: ‘Are there some cases where you might not want to encrypt the data on your hard drive?’

Look, I’m going to leave that open and say yes, there are. I can’t think of any of those particular scenarios right now off the top of my head to be honest, but I’m sure there are edge cases there where you don’t want to enable encryption. It would be a good idea to think about it, have a chat with your IT people, and you’ll probably come back and find that the answer is yes, that you do want that enabled. In summary, why would we want to encrypt the data on our laptop hard drives? Well, to keep that data safe in case we lose our laptop or our laptop gets stolen. How do we do it? We simply turn on a feature called BitLocker for Windows or FileVault in the macOS.

Thanks for listening to the Power Up Project, brought to you by Digit IT and Grassroots IT. Please remember to leave a review for us, wherever you found this podcast. Until next time, keep powering up.