Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why is data on laptops not encrypted

So laptops get stolen all the time. Some are stolen from cars, some from apartments/homes etc. With the laptop storage increasing, we tend to store all kinds of stuff on it. If the laptop is gone so is all the data that resides on it. Why isnt the data on a laptop stored in an encrypted state, so that even if the laptop is stolen, the thief, or who ever bought it from the thief, has no way to retrieve the data? Yes, you have to enter you login/password when the laptop boots up but that can be bypassed with some booting up tricks (this is used by specialists who retrieve data from crashed hard-disks).

Encryption on laptops should be done by the O/S itself. Although the Windows O/S gives you an option to encrypt files and folders, it doesnt let you encrypt the entire hard disk. I am not sure about the other operating systems like Linux/Solaris. Let me know if they provide encryption capabilities across the board for all the data on your hard-drive on a laptop or even on the desktop.

Update: On my flight to San Francisco, I came across an article in the in-flight magazine which said "4425 number of laptops left in the cabs of one taxi in chicago in 6 consecutive months in 2004 - according to a survey of taxi drivers by security firm Pointsec. 21460 handheld computers and 85619 mobile phones get left behind." As we store more and more data on our mobile devices we need a way protect it even more.

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