By Doctor Security
People often ask me for free advice: “Hey Doc, do I really need hard drive encryption? It’s not like I got state secrets on my laptop…” I always answer these types of questions with diagnostic questions of my own: “Well, do you keep personal data on your computer like your Social Security Number or medical records? Do you keep bank statements or tax returns on it, too?”
If the answer to either one of my questions is yes, then the answer to “do I need hard drive encryption?” becomes obvious. If people answer my question “no,” then I ask a follow-up question: “Are you a small business owner or a professional such as a lawyer, accountant or contractor who carries your clients' information around on your laptop? Do you want to be sued if that information gets out?”
Again, if the answer is affirmative, then encryption software becomes an immediate necessity. Once my “patient” and I have determined that they need a “dose” of encryption – preventive medicine is always a good thing – then we need to figure out what’s the best HDE security software to meet their needs. It must be software that encrypts all the data on a PC, even temporary and deleted files. Another stipulation is that security controls cannot be bypassed by removing the hard drive or by booting off a CD.
I always recommend ZoneAlarm’s Hard Drive Encryption for Laptops because I know it’s powered by the same technology used in Check Point Hard Drive Encryption solution. This is industrial level technology that is used by over 14 million users in businesses and government agencies of all sizes, worldwide.
Sometimes the next question I get is “So how does hard drive encryption work? It sounds complex and complicated.” Well, it is and it isn’t. The technology that encrypts your data is very sophisticated, but getting it on your PC and using it is a very basic and simple process:
First, you purchased the software and download it to your laptop. Then you do an initial encryption that makes your entire hard drive inaccessible to anyone but you. You are asked to create a personal encryption login and setup a safety system for quick data recovery, if ever needed.
Second, when your hard drive is encrypted, you restart your computer and enter your encryption username and password. Without this password, your drive will remain encrypted – no one can get access to your information. You will see an encryption login screen every time you startup your computer.
Once you have logged in, all the encryption and decryption happens automatically without you seeing it. It is transparent and will not slow you down (see independent performance tests). You just use your computer as you normally would. HDE will not slow your PC down. Your individual files are encrypted and decrypted “on the fly” as they are accessed.
Generally, the final question to me in discussions like these is: “What happens if I forget my password?” That’s an easy one to answer if you have ZoneAlarm Extreme Security Hard Drive Encryption Edition: you just contact their customer support team by phone and they help you reset your password.
My final questions are: “So now that you know you need HDE, what are you waiting for? Do you want to be an identity theft victim? Do you want to be embarrassed (or sued) when you have to tell your business client that all their sensitive information was stolen because you don’t have hard drive encryption?”