Magpie Tech Tips

June 07, 2017

How to Protect Your Business’ Privacy Online – Step 2 of 4: Use Disk Encryption

If a cybercriminal can’t access your computer’s hard disk, they can’t steal data off it. Disk Encryption helps stop them. Part 2 of 4.

Now that we know how to protect our privacy while browsing the Web (see our first Tech Tip on Private Browsing), the next step is disk privacy.  Protecting the files stored on your computer.

Businesses and individuals alike should take steps to keep all of their data private.  Cybercriminals love to steal data—and they will try all sorts of ways to get at yours.

One way to stop them is through Step 2: Disk Encryption.

Disk encryption works by automatically converting data on a hard drive into a coded format.  If you don’t have the “key” to the encryption, the data just looks like random nonsense. 

The good news is that you may already have a full disk encryption tool built into your system.  Windows 10 PCs have BitLocker; Macs have FileVault.

If you’re on Windows 10 and want to encrypt your disk, here are the steps to do it:

  • Go to Settings > System > About
  • Under About, scroll to the bottom and click BitLocker Settings.
  • Click the Turn on BitLocker link.
  • You’ll see a “Choose how you want to unlock your drive during startup” screen.  Select the Enter a password option.
  • Enter a new password on the next screen.  Use a different password than the one you use to log on.
  • Next, you’ll need to choose whether you want to save a recovery key, for regaining access to your files if you forget your password.  Recovery Key options include:
    • Save to your Microsoft account
    • Save to a USB flash drive
    • Save to a file
    • Print the recovery

      Select the option that is most convenient for you.  Click Next.

  • Select the encryption option that best suits your scenario:
    • Encrypt used disk space only (faster and best for new PCs and drives)
    • Encrypt entire drive (slower but best for PCs and drives already in use)

      Click Next.

  • Select the encryption mode to use: New Encryption Mode, or Compatible Mode.  We recommend New Encryption Mode.  Click Next.
  • Make sure to check the Run BitLocker system check option, and click Continue.  The encryption process will take place.
  • Lastly, restart your computer.  After the restart, you’ll see a prompt for the ‘unlock’ password you set.

How to Use BitLocker Drive Encryption on Windows 10 – WindowsCentral
Use FileVault to Encrypt the Startup Disk on Your Mac – Apple Support

IMPORTANT: While encryption is great protection when your computer is off, it’s still possible to steal data from the computer while you’re using it.  That’s where Private Browsing comes in (as well as using a VPN).

In the next Tech Tip we’ll address Step 3: Use a VPN. A VPN ‘tunnels’ through the Web, concealing your data (if you picked the right VPN service).

Got a tech question you need answered?  Please email us at woof@planetmagpie.com and we may make it our next Tech Tip.