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Encrypted Hard Drives: The New Standard

InfoSec Newsletter             July 30th, 2014


Encrypted Hard Drives: The New Standard

By Chelsie Power

CSUSM’s PC and Mac users will be receiving a security upgrade. IITS will be introducing software and hard drive encryption for all machines using tools such as WinMagic’s Self-Encryption Drives, SecureDoc, and Filevault 2.

What is encryption?

What is encryption? Encryption is a way of transforming data into something unreadable by unauthorized users by requiring a decryption key. When an entire hard drive is encrypted, it protects users against unauthorized access in the event of a stolen or lost computer.

Why are we doing this?

There are several reasons why encryption is beneficial. Without encryption, a savvy thief may be able to break into unencrypted machines and retrieve confidential, personal and private data, leaving the user vulnerable to identity theft. This is a very serious security breach. As another example, a user may experience a hard drive crash, rendering the hard drive inaccessible. This makes it impossible for techs to delete sensitive data before disposal. If the hard drive is encrypted however, the user can rest assured the data is safely protected.

How does it affect you?

Some users will now encounter the WinMagic login screen on startup, prompting them for their campus username and password. These credentials will be passed on to the operating system, so passwords will not need to be entered twice each time the machine is booted up or restarted. What happens when a user changes their password? As long as the machine is connected to the internet, the encryption service will “sync” the user’s current campus password.

WinMagic Self-Encrypting Drives

Winmagic SecureDoc

Mac Security and FileVault 2

Wiki - Disk Encryption