Encryption is key to making sure that your data is protected. It’s also an easy best practice to include in your security policies. The encryption process can vary between systems and devices so we’re going to break it down one at a time for you, starting with Windows 10 and Bitlocker.
BitLocker is Microsoft’s proprietary disk encryption software for Windows 10. Following these eight steps will make sure your data is safe and protected. Plus it’s free and you don’t have to install anything. You can use BitLocker to encrypt your entire drive, as well as protect against unauthorized changes to your system like firmware-level malware.
How to Encrypt Your Hard Drive in Windows 10
- Locate the hard drive you want to encrypt under “This PC” in Windows Explorer.
- Right-click the target drive and choose “Turn on BitLocker.”
- Choose “Enter a Password.”
- Enter a secure password.
- Choose “How to Enable Your Recovery Key” which you’ll use to access your drive if you lose your password. You can print it, save it as a file to your hard drive, save it as a file to a USB drive, or save the key to your Microsoft account.
- Choose “Encrypt Entire Drive.” This option is more secure and encrypts files you marked for deletion.
- Unless you need your drive to be compatible with older Windows machines, choose “New Encryption Mode.”
- Click “Start Encrypting” to begin the encryption process. Note that this will require a computer restart if you’re encrypting your boot drive. The encryption will take some time, but it will run in the background, and you’ll still be able to use your computer while it runs.
Note: BitLocker is not available on Windows 10 Home edition, but there is a similar feature for device encryption.
Why You Should Encrypt Your Files
The nightmare situation would be if your laptop was stolen and had a million social security numbers, or bank information, stored on it. Unencrypted. Or let’s say, the private information on 2,500 participants in a clinical trial stolen from the truck of a worker’s car. Unencrypted. None of us want to be in that situation.
If you don’t store information like that on your computer, and you only use it at home, then you don’t need to use encryption. But it’s still a good idea. Encryption is especially relevant for people who are concerned about data breaches. And companies often require it in information security policies.
These information security policies and procedures at your company are incredibly important. You don’t want to learn your company laptop was not only stolen but had unencrypted data, in violation of your corporate security policies.
Encryption and Security Policies
An encryption policy is a basic, easy to implement way to make yourself or your business more secure. You will likely have to create your own security policies if you have a small business or startup. You don’t have to write security policies from scratch though. We have a cheat sheet if you do want to make your own encryption policy, you can look for templates for security policies, or use our free app to automatically generate custom security policies.