Our computers are a treasure trove of vital data. Every day, we are storing or interacting with content that plays an important role in our business development or our personal leisure. When that data is stored on our computers’ hard drive, accessibility to that data is only a few clicks away. So, with all of that convenience, it’s as important as ever to maintain control of our data through the means of digital security. Most computer users out there, especially in the business world, help protect access to their data through the use of sign-on credentials. Signing into our computers with a username & password has become commonplace. But what data is being protected by our credentials, and what risks still exist when no other security measures are in use? In this post, we’ll show you what is and isn’t protected when locking your computer with credentials – and how the added benefit of data encryption can help further protect your information. We’ll be focusing on the impact within the business world, but the same principles can be applied to our personal computers at home.
What is protected by my credentials?
When we sign into our business computers, we are prompted in most cases to enter our username and password. If entering in a valid set of credentials, we are presented with access to the computer’s data via the operating system’s interface. We can open applications, browse files, access the internet, and perform a multitude of other tasks. On the back-end, all of this functionality is provided by files stored on the computer’s hard drive that interact with one another to perform the actions that we ask of it. Those files include ones that are generic for the operating system or applications themselves, but also include the personal files that we choose to store on our computer. By logging in with our valid credentials, the operating system lets us perform action on and interact with files on behalf of the logged in account. In short, our credentials provide protection by preventing unauthorized users from logging into the computer’s operating system and interacting with the computer’s data in the same manner that we do on a normal basis.
What remains unprotected?
While protecting our operating system access via credentials is a necessity and provides a great deal of protection, there are still ways that the data within the computer can be accessed. As mentioned above, our credentials prevent unauthorized people from using our computer in the manner that we normally do. But what if our computers were to fall into the hands of someone with a bit of extra technical know-how? This could happen as a result of loss, theft, or simply times when the computer is left unattended. We discussed earlier that our computer is essentially powered by all of the various files stored on the computer’s hard drive. If left in the wrong hands, a hard drive can be physically removed from a computer or accessed via other means – such as a different temporary operating system, which can provide access to the files stored inside of it. While this method does not grant the malicious user from logging into the operating system using conventional methods or allow authentication with our company’s network resources, any files stored locally on the computer can become compromised.
So how do I protect the data from being compromised?
The best and easiest method to protect our computer’s stored data from the methods mentioned above is through the use of data encryption. When enabled, encryption is a process that makes the data unreadable unless the source of the attempt is able to decrypt it. In layman’s terms, data encryption makes our computer’s files look like gibberish by turning the data into a large puzzle and having the computer store various pieces of that puzzle in separate storage that is not accessible. When logging into our computers via the standard method, that separate storage interacts with the operating system to validate the data request and works along with our credentials to grant the access.
But what about if someone tries to access your hard drive directly like we talked about above? Doing so will not be possible because that separate storage and the operating system will not be providing the remaining pieces of that encryption puzzle. The data will be inaccessible and essentially gibberish.
How do I enable disk encryption for my computer?
There are a few methods that can be used to encrypt our computers’ hard drives. Below is information on the most common method for both Mac and Windows. Enabling data encryption is a fairly straightforward process but it is important that each step is followed precisely.
Microsoft Windows: How to Enable Device Encryption in Windows 10
Apple macOS: How to Enable FileVault (Device Encryption) in macOS
Can Diligex help?
Yes! In addition to working with you to help further protect your computer’s data through the enabling of encryption, our highly skilled team can help design a complex solution such as centralized enforcement of encryption, as well as proactive monitoring of encryption status. Whether you’re currently a Diligex TotalCare client or would like to inquire about how Diligex can help your business prosper, feel free to reach out to us at https://diligex.com/contact and a member of our team will be in touch!