The best way to protect data is not to have it. Restricted data should be retained only when necessary. When it is necessary to retain restricted data, encryption can be an effective protection.
Encryption is the process of converting data into a code in order to prevent unauthorized access. The purpose of encryption is to prevent unauthorized access to data while it is either in storage or being transmitted.
For example, encryption can protect the privacy of restricted data that is stored on a laptop computer, even if that laptop computer is stolen. Similarly, it can protect data that is transmitted, for example, over a network, even if that network is tapped by an unauthorized third party.
In order to accomplish this, proper key management is crucial. If the encryption key gets into the wrong hands, unauthorized access to information can result. Conversely, if a key is lost or destroyed, critical information may become unavailable to authorized personnel.
Encrypt Your MS Office Files
It is often necessary to encrypt individual files. This is usually done to facilitate secure transport of those files. It allows secure transport of files over the network and on storage devices, such as a CD-ROMs or "thumb" drives.
IT recommends the use of Microsoft Office encryption, available for new or existing Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files that contain sensitive or private information. You must remember any password that you use to encrypt these files. IT will not be able to reset the password or restore the file.
Encrypting Files with Identity Finder
Identity Finder has been purchased by the College to identify legally protected data on computers. Examples of legally protected data include: Social Security numbers, Credit/debit/Procurement card numbers, bank account numbers, other governmental ID numbers such as drivers licenses, HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) data, FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) data, etc. In addition to legally protected data it also finds passwords. When legally protected data is found the user will have the opportunity to shred the data or encrypt it.
Information on how you can encrypt files using Identity Finder.
Encryption for Laptops
Computing devices, such as laptops, PDAs, and smart phones, as well as storage media, such as CDs, DVDs, and USB drives, all have the potential of falling into the wrong hands, particularly when they are not stored in a secure location.
The disk encryption solutions that encrypt the entire disks can be used to protect information on such devices.
Stonehill laptops are currently distributed with a encryption software called TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt uses disk based encryption and prevents unauthorized access to your computer's information. Data is automatically encrypted or decrypted right before it is loaded or saved, without any user intervention. No data stored on an encrypted computer can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password. An entire file system is encrypted (e.g., file names, folder names, contents of every file, free space, meta data, etc).