SHCC WYSIWYG Article from November 2009

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the November 2009 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Lost Laptop and Encrypting Data

by Don VanSyckel

If you want, 'er get, a laptop or a netbook you might want to put a sticker on the bottom of it with your name and phone number. Put clear tape on it so the printing doesn't smear or run if it gets wet. The only other recommendation I have for laptops is to encrypt the hard drive just in case it's lost of stolen. You wouldn't want to give identity thieves a virtual smorgasbord board of information about your life. Unfortunately I don't know of an encryption package that's available to consumers. If anyone knows of one or hears of one in the future, let me know.

An alternative to encrypting the hard drive is to use a vaulting product. We had one demonstrated in January by James Wong of Logical Answers. This product works like any vault. When you want to use a file, you take it out of the vault, you use it, and then you put it back into the vault. If you get lazy and don't put a file away, that's the time when you'll 'loose' the laptop. Vaults have a limitation on their size.

Disk encryption works at a different level. Once your hard disk is encrypted you have to enter your user name and password for the encryption when you start the PC. After this you use the PC exactly like you've always used it. Use word processors, spreadsheets, databases, and anything else without further interference. When you shut down the PC everything on the hard disk is secure. If the PC gets gone no one can read your data.

OBTW, having a Windows password on your laptop is a good idea but it won't keep your data safe. Any laptop hard drive can be read by taking it out of the laptop and popping it into a USB external case available for $20 to $30. So now that someone is reading the drive, the encryption keeps them from making sense out of what they're reading. The Windows password is only good to prevent your family and guests from rummaging through your PC.

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