Losing a laptop due to theft or forgetting it on a plane could have dire consequences for the typical consumer. According to the Ponemon Institute
, this is not a rare occurrence; it happens to 12,000 of our laptops - each week.
We transact much of our business online, and most of us manage our accounts online using Quicken, Money, or similar financial management software. We basically have our lives on the hard drives, and losing a drive, or the whole computer, is a serious inconvenience that will take a lot of time and energy to recover from.
But, being able to recover from a disaster starts with preparing for it. Backing up your data to an external drive either locally or remotely will reduce the amount of time it takes to get back up and running. The impact of losing your data, however, is another matter and really depends on whose hands it ends up in. Using disk encryption might not get your laptop back, but it will save your data from prying eyes should it fall into the wrong hands.
Disk encryption is a feature available natively on Windows as BitLocker
. Setting up encryption with BitLocker is not difficult to do. By default, a separate partition is automatically set up on your drive when you install Windows version 7. Enabling the encryption feature is done by right clicking on the drive and turning it on. Any data saved to this area is encrypted with a key. A user must know the PIN in order to be able to use the key to decrypt the data and make it readable again.
Apple offers several utilities for disk encryption which work in much the same way. One is called goSecure
. This utility allows an easy-to-use drag and drop means of placing files in an encrypted area.
There are many commercially available disk encryption programs
as well as freeware which achieve the same thing. Whether you use the encryption features native in the operating system, purchase a program, or download a freeware package, keeping your sensitive data private is a wise choice for any consumer.