By James Grant, Team Lead and Senior Developer
PointSec, the product that has been protecting company laptops for years is now available for the consumer market. Pointsec Full Disk Encryption is the defacto standard of disk encryption products, leading others in independent test results:
Companies were the first to see the need for data security as their employees took their work outside the company walls. Increasingly, consumers are choosing laptops for themselves. It is the ideal choice for a student on the go, for example. With the price of laptops tumbling, they are very affordable and they take less space than the big box.
The biggest risk of a laptop is having it stolen. The chance of a college student having their laptop nabbed while they are out is higher than the chance of a home break-in. For most of us, the biggest concerns are the cost of the computer and the setback of losing the information that was on it (I really love USB thumb drives as a backup tool for important information, BTW!). For some, there are privacy and identity theft concerns as well. Did you have private email on there? Picture? Your taxes? Anything with your social security or financial account numbers or passwords?
All those concerns are gone with Full Disk Encryption, available here in beta:
The "beta" label is on the user interface and packaging part of the software, not the encryption part. The core encryption tool is the same as is in use on millions of computers around the world, including the one I'm using right now!
As soon as we went to beta, I installed it at home .. on my wife's computer. The result: "Hon, I'm getting a new logon screen when it starts. What should I do?" So I wrote the username and password on a sticky note and stuck it to the screen. Hey, my goal wasn't security as much as seeing it work. It did.
As I saw the PointSec product transform into a Consumer product, my fears of total disaster subsided:
- Firstly, I knew rationally that the encrypting part was the same as what I'd used for years at work.
- Next, the product doesn't start encrypting until recovery information has been backed up on our servers (the files are encrypted by your password, so they are no use to anyone but you – including us).
- Lastly, the product helps you burn a recovery CD so if – just if – something were to go wrong, you could boot off the recover CD and unencrypt the drive. Forgot your password? No problem. Contact our Support team, tell them who you are, answer the security questions and they supply a code that unlocks your computer. (In other words, we can help you reset your password, but we don’t know your password, so you're truly safe.)
So if you've wanted to keep your laptop private in case of theft or break-in, ZoneAlarm's new FDE (Full Disk Encryption) is what you've been waiting for. Let us know what you think. While it is in beta, we are looking for feedback from you.