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To Encrypt or Not to Encrypt? That is the Question

Coastal Computer - Thursday, February 18, 2016

We've all heard about encrypting files, but what does this mean? And what should be encrypted? In this article, we'll provide you some straightforward answers about encrypting files, folders, computers, devices, and connections.

Apple offers built-in FileVault protection on all of their Macs, and Microsoft offers BitLocker protection for Windows PCs. So, encryption is built-in to your computer. The question remains: to encrypt or not to encrypt? Let's explore the answer:

What files and folders should be encrypted?

Files and folders containing sensitive information on shared computers with multiple users should be encrypted to prevent access from other users. For example: Consider a shared PC at an office, where some user accounts are used for accounting by full-time staff, and other user accounts are only used by part-time staff for checking email and documents. The sensitive accounting files on a shared PC like this should be encrypted.

What computers and devices should be encrypted?

Any mobile computing devices used in a business environment should be encrypted and password protected, i.e. – laptops, smartphones, and tablets. For companies running Windows Enterprise on their laptops and devices, BitLocker encryption is included. Some brands of laptops also offer their own drive level encryption. Good news for phones and tablets! Android and the latest versions of the iPhone and iPad include encryption by default. Make sure you use a passcode on these devices. On your Mac you can also use FileVault to protect the backups of your iPhone.

What connections should be encrypted?

Any wireless connection or wireless network should be encrypted, this is typically setup by default on most routers. Any VPN and Remote connections should be encrypted, these are connections to your network from outside your network.

In case you need any help auditing encryption or data security at your home or office, we’re here to help. Coastal Computer Consulting can also setup a secure VPN or remote connection to be sure you are safe when your team members are working from home or while traveling.