USB Drives: Easily lost, but easily encrypted!

Peter Wolchak (Editor, Backbone Magazine) pinged me this morning… furious. ‘How long does it take to encrypt a USB key?’  Not very long… why?

It turns out that Elections Canada is back in the news, and (again) not in a good way.  A couple of employees had confidential information about 2.4 Million voters on thumb drives… and lost them.  They weren’t encrypted.

Please read Peter’s article here.

Folks if you have Windows 7 or later (Enterprise or Ultimate), encryption is included for free… It’s called BitLocker.  Here’s what it looks like, and how to encrypt your drive:

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The BitLocker Drive Encryption Tool is simple to use… in Windows 7 (or 8) type BitLocker into Search (for Windows 8 it is considered a setting… see my previous post here) and this screen pops up.  The drive I am choosing to encrypt is the I drive, a 4GB USB key that I got for free at a trade show recently.SNAGHTML2e7b874

Once I click on ‘Turn on BitLocker’ (by individual drive or volume) it asks me how I want to unlock it – in this case I don’t have a smart card, so I select the password option.

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The option to save your recovery key to a Microsoft account (new name for a Live ID) is new in Windows 8, and is very convenient.  However if you have several encrypted volumes remember to name them appropriately so that you will remember what is what!

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You can either encrypt the used disk space or the entire drive… the first option is MUCH faster, but the second is comprehensive.

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You can watch the progress… for a 4GB USB key it can take from 10-20 minutes if you selected ‘Entire drive’.

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Once it’s done, you are set!  When you plug your newly encrypted USB key into a port it will be encrypted, so if someone steals it they have the key itself… but not the data.

I hope this helps!

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One thought on “USB Drives: Easily lost, but easily encrypted!

  1. Pingback: Backbone Magazine « The World According to Mitch

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