Encryption, how to use it for your data and live peacefully

Encryption, how to use it for your data and live peacefully


Encrypting files, folders and drives on your computer is to ensure that no one else can decrypt your data without a specific key, which in most cases is a password known only to you.

Although it may access your files if they know your password (the decryption key), therefore, an attacker will still not be able to extract a drive from your system and access what it contains, nor use a second computer to read your data, which would be incomprehensible. This means that even if your Windows or macOS computer is lost or stolen, you won't have to worry about someone using the data on it.

The way popular operating systems handle encryption has changed over the over the years and today there are third party tools that offer more encryption options to choose from. In this article, we'll walk you through these solutions to help you choose the right one.

Built-in options for Windows

The “Device Encryption” feature in the Home version of Windows

Windows via David Nield Encryption in Windows is a bit tricky. First, there are differences between Windows Home and Windows Pro: Pro users get a strong encryption tool called BitLocker , while for the Home edition there is a more straightforward alternative, simply called Device Encryption , which is can be found by selecting Update & Security and then Device Encryption from the Windows Settings panel.

However, this option is not suitable for everyone: it requires some level of hardware security support from your desktop or laptop computer. This is a rather complex procedure and we do not have the space to analyze it in detail, but on The Windows Club you can find a comprehensive explanation. Look for a tool called System Information in the Start menu, right-click it and run it as administrator: from here you can see if your computer supports this function or not through the Device encryption support item.

Assuming your hardware meets all requirements and Device Encryption is visible, you can click on the feature to see if your system drives are encrypted - they should be by default if you log into your computer with an account Microsoft. This means that anyone who accesses your hard drive without authorization will not be able to see the data on it, which will be encrypted and therefore protected. If for some reason encryption is not active, you can enable it by moving the switch to Enable .

As for external drives and Usb sticks, in the Pro version of Windows you can use BitLocker: just click right-click the drive in File Explorer, select Show more options, Turn on BitLocker, and set a password. For those who own the Home edition, however, this option is not available: to encrypt external drives you need to use a third-party tool, which we will discuss later.

Integrated options for macOS< /h2> FileVault gives you the best protection on Mac

Apple via David NieldEncryption on macOS is clearer than on Windows, but still needs some explaining. If you have a Mac with a T2 security chip or one from Apple inside (so from late 2017 or later), the contents of the system disk are encrypted by default . You need your account password to access your computer and any protected data on the drive.

You can add another layer of protection by activating a tool called FileVault . By enabling it, the information needed to decrypt the Mac drive is more difficult to obtain if, for example, someone were to steal your computer and plug it into another. In the past the system could have a negative impact on the speed and performance of the device, but in recent years the problem has become less and less pronounced, and is now virtually unnoticeable on newer Macs.

You will be asked if you want to activate FileVault when setting up macOS for the first time on a new computer (we advise you to do so). You can turn FileVault on (or off) at any time by opening the Apple menu and going to System Settings and then Privacy & Security. Here you will find an option to enable FileVault and some details about its functions. You'll also need to specify how you'd like to unlock your startup disk in case you forget your password, using iCloud or a dedicated recovery key.

You can encrypt your external drives by adding a password directly from Finder by clicking with the right mouse button. If the encryption option doesn't appear, to make the drive compatible, you need to erase and reformat it: open the Disk Utility tool in macOS, click View and Show All Devices , then select the affected external drive and click Initialize . Give the drive a name, select an encryption option under Format (here's an explanation of the various options), and choose GUID Partition Map under Scheme. Select a password, then click Erase  to be able to use the drive.

Third-party options for Windows and macOS

VeraCrypt makes it easy to encrypt an external drive

VeraCrypt via David Nield If the built-in options in Windows and macOs don't suit your needs, you have a number of third-party encryption tools, both free and paid, available, including Cryptomator, NordLocker, and AxCrypt. We particularly recommend VeraCrypt: it is available for Windows and macOs (as well as Linux), it is not difficult to use and it is free.

We also advise you to read the online documentation that accompanies the program, which is quite simple to use. Let's say you need to encrypt an external drive, for example: with the drive plugged in and formatted, open VeraCrypt and choose Create Volume . Then go to Encrypt a non-system partition/drive and then Next . Select the drive to encrypt and follow the onscreen instructions. During the setup process, you will be asked if you want to encrypt your existing data or if you prefer to format the drive. If you have files that you don't want to delete, choose the first option. You will also be asked to enter a password to lock the drive, which obviously you must not forget.

VeraCrypt also allows you to create containers, i.e. sections in the drive that are encrypted: it is a valid option if for any reason you need to lock down particular files and folders without encrypting the entire drive. From the VeraCrypt main screen, click Create Volume and then Create an encrypted file container . From here you will be prompted to specify a file on disk that will act as an encrypted container for other files and folders.

This article originally appeared on sportsgaming.win US.

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