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Encryption...It's for everyone

It's been interesting watching the encryption argument…why don't more people think about it?

Working in IT invariably means friends may ask you for help at some point. It's the nature of it. Sometimes it's help with a laptop, but it can also be random stuff like "Hey, you work in Computers! Can you help me with my new Microwave". We've all been there.

Anyways, recently I've been following the developments on Apple vs The US Government on iPhone encryption - and it got me thinking. How many people who aren't in IT actually encrypt their stuff on purpose? I bet it's not many. I'd be surprised if a lot of non-computer literate people actually did it, or understood why it's important.

Let's take a recent event of somebody's machine crashing and them not being able to start windows. Let's forget for a second their extreme panic at the fact they had about 5 years worth of stuff on there…and no backup. Yeah, let's forget that.

So, I pull the hard disk out of the laptop, plug it in to mine…and there you go. I copy off all their data. Easily. Everything. Photos, documents, copies of their passport, bills, driving license…I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.

It's so easy to do, it's beyond terrifying. Imagine if they'd have had that laptop stolen, or left on a train?

What about home stuff? Sure your home PC (people still buy those, right?) is safe isn't it? After all, it's got a password on it. Of course it isn't. If the worst happened and you were burgled, and the base unit/external drives nicked…getting your data would be beyond easy. If it's an external drive, just plug it in to something else.

Personally, I encrypt absolutely everything. Every laptop, every external drive, anything that can be encrypted is encrypted. It's the only thing that makes sense. Some may say I'm being over-cautious. Why am I? I have a sensible backup setup with multiple copies of stuff, on and off site, all encrypted of course. My risk to losing data is quite low.

The risk of losing unencrypted data though - that is sky high. I don't mean the risk of losing drives, I mean the risk
to me should I lose one of those drives with data on. Could be customer data, personal data, could be anything.

Whatever it is, I don't want people accessing it. The cost of the hardware/drive etc. is an annoyance. Losing the unencrypted data would be catastrophe.

It's not hard to encrypt stuff now - so really, you should make it happen.

Use FileVault to encrypt the startup disk on your Mac
Turn on Device Encryption

It is beyond easy.

Now, what about the scenario above where somebody has a laptop, and it's encrypted, and they've never taken a backup…and it fails. Well, you're stuffed pretty much. There are things you can do if it's just an OS corruption or hardware issue like take the drive out and use the key to decrypt the drive, but it is harder.

Me, I'd personally encrypt everything
and have a decent backup. Failed drives to me are an annoyance, I can't remember the last time it actually threatened any data.

Anyways, encrypt your stuff. It's important. Unless of course you only keep pictures of cats.

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