Laptop Drive Encryption can Stop Thieves in Their Tracks

One lost or stolen laptop should have Laptop Drive Encryption so mean of a huge data loss incident or a violation of data privacy regulations can be reduced.

While laptops make it possible to take your work with you anywhere. Their portability also makes them more vulnerable, along with all the data they contain.

If you need to comply with data privacy rules like HIPAA or PCI, having a laptop stolen can be even more damaging, resulting in fines of tens of thousands of dollars.

That’s why many businesses work with IT professionals to help ensure compliance with a number of privacy regulations.

Laptop Drive Encryption

The average cost to a business from a single stolen laptop is $47,000. The majority of those losses are not coming from the cost of the hardware, but rather things like:

  • Downtime
  • Data loss
  • Emergency technical support
  • Any data breach penalties 

Unfortunately, lost and stolen laptops happen all too often. In the case of Lahey Hospital, a laptop stolen from an unlocked room contained the personal health information of 599 patients and resulted in a HIPAA fine of $850,000

A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds, and with so much invested in a single laptop, protection of its data is key to reducing the damages in the event of a theft or loss. A good way to do this is through use of whole drive encryption.

What is Whole Drive Encryption for a Laptop?

When you encrypt the entire hard drive of a laptop, you’re making it unreadable to anyone that doesn’t have your encryption key. So, if your laptop is stolen or lost, someone else cannot open it and access all its data.

This goes beyond just your login screen password that can easily be bypassed, and basically locks out anyone trying to access any of your files.

Drive encryption doesn’t just lock your files, it encrypts everything contained on the hard drive. Which means that without the encryption key, a laptop won’t even boot correctly for a thief trying to gain access.

Both Windows and Apple have native programs you can use to encrypt a laptop’s hard drive. On Windows 10 Pro, BitLocker can be used, and on MacBooks, Apple FileVault can be used.

There are also a number of third-party tools. Once disk encryption is set up, the laptop is typically unlocked by use of a passcode that accesses the encryption key or use of a USB device.

  • User Authentication Mode: The user sets a passphrase or PIN that needs to be input when the laptop is booted up.
  • USB Key Mode: A USB device that contains the startup key must be inserted during startup.

Tips for Working with Laptop Disk Encryption

If you want to get the most protection and avoid some common encryption issues, here are a few tips to follow.

Use a strong Passphrase/PIN 

Make sure you’re not using a weak password (like “letmein”), otherwise the drive encryption will be for nothing because it will be easy for a hacker to guess.

Passphrases are stronger than password because they contain a lot more characters. You can put together two separate verses from songs you like, for example. Remember to also add some numbers and special characters in the mix to make it more difficult.

Store Your Passphrase/PIN in a Safe Place

It’s vital that if you’re using a passphrase or PIN mode of decryption, that you keep it in a safe place (not on a note stuck on your laptop!). You don’t want to lose it or forget it, otherwise you could get locked out of the computer. 

One method to safely store the passcode is save in your Microsoft or iCloud account. You may also want to write it down and store it locked in a safe place.

Back Up Your Files Regularly

If your laptop crashes and the files are corrupted, there’s no getting them back unless you have a backup in place. This is a good rule of thumb for any computer, encrypted or not. 

Make sure you back up your laptop before you enable the encryption. Then keep it backed up regularly to ensure your files are safeguarded. This will also ensure you’re not left without your data in the case of theft or loss of the laptop.

Use a VPN When Away from the Office

Laptops often travel with their owners, which can lead to them being connected to unsecure public Wi-Fi networks.

If you’re working on your laptop, that’s already booted using the encryption key. A hacker could still get in via an unprotected Wi-Fi connection.

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) gives your employees a safe way to connect to the internet and to company networks while away from the office by securing the traffic through an encrypted channel.

How Secure Are Your Company’s Laptops & Mobile Devices?

Managing laptops, tablets, and smartphones that all contain company data doesn’t have to be a security nightmare. RCOR can help your business establish safeguards,

like laptop disk encryption. To ensure you’re protected while still enjoying the benefits of a more mobile office.

Get started by scheduling a complimentary security audit today. You can request one online or call us at 919-313-9355.