With the increasing use of portable storage devices (laptops, flash drives, smart phones) the importance of protecting data has also risen. Portable devices are easily lost or stolen, and the data that we keep on them is getting more sensitive. Also, storing information "in the cloud" is becoming more commonplace. Do you trust a web service that allows you to have access to your data from anywhere? How do you know it is secure?
Having your data encrypted is the best way to protect it should your computer or flash drive be stolen, or if your system is compromised. The most valuable item is not the computer or the drive, but what is stored on the drive. (Ex. Personnel records, student grades, your tax return, etc.)
The recommended software to encrypt your data is TrueCrypt. It is open-source and free to use.
Please note that while TrueCrypt supports full disk encryption (for Windows only), setting this up is fairly complex and does run the risk of destroying your data. After it is set up, you will be required to enter a password before Windows boots. If you wish to use this method to encrypt your entire disk, contact the Ag Help Desk (540) 231-4865.