Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  Encryption: Is it worth fully protecting your files?

Encryption: Is it worth fully protecting your files?

security

The art of obfuscating messages goes back centuries, and, if you’re in to that sort of thing, makes for fascinating reading whether you view it as a political act, a security act, or even just a matter of implementing technology. There’s an important distinction between the kinds of secret messages that were sent in decades (or centuries) past and today, and it’s this.

We work in an environment where we increasingly carry more and more data around with us on a variety of devices. Your mobile phone invariably knows your contact book a whole lot better than you do. Your tablet may be primarily a consumption device, but can also be a useful work tool for private files. With desktop PC sales being comprehensively dwarfed by sales of notebooks, it’s no longer unusual to be carrying around an entire office’s worth of data with you — that’s if you’re not already carrying around a filing cabinet’s worth of data on a cheap USB drive. I’ve got a drawer full of the things, but I’m constantly surprised at how cheap they’ve become; a 16GB USB drive — many times larger than the first hard drive I ever purchased — can now be easily had at retail for around ten bucks.

Mobility is great, but it’s not without its risks; anything that’s easy to carry is something that’s easy for someone else to steal, or indeed for you to simply lose in a cafe, restaurant, or just while in transit. It stings to lose valuable computing gear, but the real value of what you’re carrying could well be in the personal or business data that’s no longer with you. What happens to that data when it’s no longer in your hands?

On the tablet side of things, the general approach has been for remote wiping, with solutions for Android tablets and the inbuilt “Find My iPhone” utility from Apple handling that kind of remote clearance relatively easily, as long as the unit’s actually connected online again. What, though, of a lost USB drive or laptop?

That’s where encryption — encoding your files so they can only be unlocked with a password — comes into play. An encrypted file will only unlock with the correct password, although some utilities may take that further if required for additional security layers.

There are utilities such as TrueCrypt that can handle encryption of drives or partitions for you on older operating systems, but depending on your operating system choice, you may already have tools to hand; users of Windows 7 Ultimate or the Pro or Enterprise versions of Windows 8 get Bitlocker Drive Encryption, while Mac OS users can encrypt drives straight from the Finder. There is a small utility price to pay for encryption — you’ve got to have the time to encrypt files or drives, and if you do forget the password for anything encrypted it’s effectively lost; the current standard state of encryption doesn’t make it 100% bulletproof, but unless you’ve opted for a very short, very simple password it’d take decades of high computing power to crack. I wouldn’t say that every file you have needs to be encrypted per se, but it’s rather solidly something you should consider if the files you’re carrying contain information that you wouldn’t want to be broadly disseminated. That way if you do lose your laptop or external drive, you’re only looking at replacement cost for the hardware — something that’s usually cheaper and/or better than when you bought it — and not worrying about what’s being done with the data that was on that hardware.


Recent News

Alongside an updated – and rather pricey in its own right – Apple iPad Pro, Apple recently announced an update to its MacBook Air line of laptop computers. The new iPad Pro is a rather specialised system launching at a very unfortunate time for Apple, but the MacBook Air remains Apple’s play towards the more

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic – which is, let’s not mince words here, a very serious issue indeed for every Australian – is seeing some swift and much-needed changes to the way we live our lives in order to maintain public health in these very difficult times. There are numerous businesses that are suspending operations, or

You’ve arrived home with your fancy new laptop and want to make sure that laptop lasts as long as possible. Good on you for thinking ahead and taking pride in your purchase! A laptop should last you many years if cared for properly. This article will explain some tips and techniques to ensure a long

The ongoing issues around the COVID-19 Coronavirus have many companies (where it’s applicable) trying to sort out ways for their workforces to work remotely, aka “work from home”. It’s an area I can actually claim a decent amount of expertise in, because I’ve mostly worked out of a home office for the best part of

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Learn about the precautions we are taking and our new contactless pick-up and remote service options. Read More
Get help setting up your home office or homework area today. Learn More