We all enjoy the convenience that comes with using portable storage devices. You can easily travel with devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones and USB drives. Accessing data stored in these gadgets is easy. For example, if you have a flash drive, you simply need to plug it into the nearest computer. Smartphones and laptops enable you to access essential data from remote locations. But this convenience comes at a price, what if the device falls into the wrong hands through loss or theft? Would you be comfortable with a third party accessing your business data and the consequences of such disclosure?
Modern economies and businesses are data-driven. Some critical information about your organization may be mishandled if a portable device associated with your organization finds its way to your competitors. One way to save your business information from being accessed by unauthorized users is to encrypt all your data. With a properly encrypted storage device, data will become useless and unable to be read by third parties. Data that is tried to be viewed will be seen as garbled text.
Nowadays, USB flash drive storage capacity has grown and some can store Terabytes of data. You can easily lose your flash drive because of its small size. Anyone who finds or steals your flash drive can easily access your private and sensitive information by simply plugging into a laptop or computer with a USB port if it contains unencrypted data.
A more common device is the smartphone. Though it is primarily used to store personal data such as photos and messages, smartphones are now widely used for storing business data because it facilitates easy connection to workplace computers from any location. It is also easy to lose because we take our phones wherever we go. Thankfully, most smartphones come with full-disk encryption. Devices using iOS 8 and Android OS have encryption technology built in which can be activated for data security.
Here are a few general methods of encrypting your business data on various operating systems:
Using Windows 7,8 and 10 BitLocker
If you are using Windows operating system, this is one of the easiest ways to encrypt your sensitive data. The method first scans through the storage device and encrypts all the data using a password feature. It can also add an auto-unlock security feature which improves the convenience of accessing the storage device when using a computer. Data that has been encrypted by BitLocker can be decrypted by all versions of Windows 7, 8 and 10. Organizations that depend on Windows OS should consider trying out this method.
Mac 256-bit AES Encryption
MAC users can encrypt their portable storage devices using this encryption method. The 256-bit AES encryption can be used on the latest versions starting from Mac 10.5. Those with older versions of the operating system can use the 128-bit encryption. The resultant encrypted file should be added to the Finder to enable auto-expansion of the file with new data.
Third Party Encryption Software
There are lots of software that can encrypt data on a portable device. Here are some of them:
- TrueCrypt: This is an open source software that is compatible with all the major computer operating systems. You can use it on Windows, Linux and Mac OS. The software can encrypt partitions of a disk. You can also use it to create secure disk images that will act as the real disk.
- GNU Privacy Guard: This encryption software is also compatible with Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Linux, and NetBSD.
- WinRAR and 7-ZIP: These are ideal for individuals and organizations that are looking for low-cost methods of securing their data.
Software encryption methods have some weaknesses, and that’s why hardware security encryption methods were developed. One such solution is known as LOK-IT Secure Flash Drive. As the name suggests, it locks a flash drive using a password. Once you insert your flash drive into the computer, it will request a password.
Other hardware encryption solutions include Aegis PadLock and StarTech encryption. Hardware self-encryption solutions tend to be more expensive than the software solutions.
You can’t afford to ignore the security of your business data. Encrypt your files and portable devices and you will save yourself from worry should your device with sensitive data get lost. The methods listed in this article can help you to secure data on your device. We highly recommend doing some research before purchasing encryption software or hardware from vendors. For a business-wide deployment, consulting security experts will be a better solution. For questions about adding encryption software to your company’s portable devices, please click here and one of our team members will be in touch.