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Encryption Works

By Steve Jones,

I don't know that the government hires the best people or they have the best tools to work with, but they have some expertise. There's a short note from Bruce Schneier that full disk encryption (FDE) does appear to by preventing unauthorized access to computer systems by police in many cases.

If you read the comments, there are all sorts of flaws and potential holes with encryption, which are valid arguments. However that doesn't mean that you shouldn't implement any encryption on your removable or portable drives, especially those in laptops. Those devices are like the locks on your home or car. They can be defeated by determined professionals, but all too often the casual criminal doesn't bother if they are in place. 

Keep in mind many laptops are lost, stolen, or sold without wiping the drives. Most people that received the drive wouldn't bother to try and decrypt it unless they were sure it had something valuable on the drive. Since it's no guarantee that a laptop grabbed at Starbucks or from a car has valuable data, most likely the target is the hardware, not the disk contents.

I think disk encryption is a good layer of defense in your security strategy and worth implementing. My laptops are encrypted, mostly because it's an easy security mechanism, and I'm not always sure if something I have on there is sensitive enough to worry about. My recommendation is that you implement FDE if you can.

You should also make sure you are backing up your data. Losing the laptop might not result in the release of sensitive data, but losing the data itself could be a major problem.

Steve Jones


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