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Protect your Data using Encryption

What is Encryption?

Encryption is a method of protecting data and ensuring it is kept private. Encryption works by a process of encoding messages or information in such a way that only authorized parties can access it with the correct cypher, key or password.

Forms of encryption have been in use for millennia, today we mostly think of encryption as a tool used to provide security to data stored on our various technological devices.

How can I use Encryption?

We all have information worth protecting; financial data, medical information, University teaching, administration and research data. Encryption is a tool that we can use to ensure that this data stays protected and private even if disaster strikes, for example a lost or stolen laptop, phone or USB storage device, or a data file accidentally emailed to the wrong person!

Encryption can also provide an extra layer of security for data stored in the cloud, particularity public cloud services like Dropbox.

What Data Encryption tools could I use?

Hard Disk Encryption

Encrypting a hard disk for example in a laptop protects the data stored on the laptop from unauthorised access in the event that the laptop is lost or stolen.
IT Services provide a managed laptop hard disk encryption service  this product is fully integrated with your operating system so does not require a separate login.
Enquire with the Service desk today to discover how this service could be of use to you

File/Folder Encryption

Encrypting a specific file or folder can protect that file in transit for example if you wished to email it to someone.

Microsoft Office 2016/O365 provides AES 256 bit encryption, you can use this to easily encrypt a Word, Excel or PowerPoint document.  This form of encryption is effective once you select a strong password.

Note: it is important to send the decryption key or password by a separate communications medium or message so that someone cannot intercept it along with the encrypted file.

It's important to know that if you don't remember your file encryption password neither IT Services nor Microsoft can retrieve this forgotten passwords. You won’t be able to open your file and you will lose access to the information in this file.

Encryption options in mobile devices

Most phones or tablets allow you to encrypt your data by adding a passcode or passphrase. Sometimes this functionality is built in and sometimes third-party software is available. It is always desirable to encrypt data on a mobile device as encryption secures your data if your device is lost or stolen. You can find out exactly how to ensure that data on your phone or tablet is encrypted from the device vendor’s website.

Finally be aware of the things that Encryption can’t do..

Encryption isn’t fool proof, there are different levels or strengths of encryption but if used correctly it should make it very difficult for anyone to access your confidential data but remember:

  • You need to take care of your encryption keys (passwords) so that you can access the encrypted data yourself in the future!
  • Encryption won’t protect your files from malware or viruses
  • Encryption can’t protect your data if you leave a device logged in and unattended
  • Encryption won’t protect you well if you choose a weak encryption key or password.