Lose a laptop, and your troubles could just be beginning! Why? Confidential data. Re-discovering Windows XP solution, I stumbled across GPG4Windows, which is an excellent, easy way to encrypt individual files, emails, and confidential information.

Gpg4win is a installer package for Windows (2000/XP/2003/Vista) with computer programs and handbooks for EMail and file encryption. Both relevant cryptography standards are supported, OpenPGP and S/MIME (the latter is in progress and currently works with GnuPG2 and Claws Mail). Gpg4win and the software included with Gpg4win are Free Software.

Now, some time ago, I also wrote about TrueCryptFree open-source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux. What I didn’t share is that TrueCrypt can be used to encrypt your entire laptop, as shared below:

I have been running TrueCrypt (www.truecrypt.org) on my laptop for about a year now and have not had a single problem with it. Every time I turn on my computer, I have to type in an encryption key (aka password) before it will boot into Windows. This is the only inconvenience for the end user that I am aware of.

We are actually looking at deploying this for all of our laptops here at [regional service center name]. We will have to keep all of the Rescue CDs in case a password is forgotten, but that shouldn’t happen seeing as we will be documenting our passwords (within an encrypted file of course). We will probably turn all CDs into ISO files and just store them on a server.

Even if you don’t encrypt your entire laptop’s hard drive as described above, you should definitely consider creating an encrypted volume. Surely you can spare 4-5 gigs for encryption of confidential documents? And, it’s pretty easy to backup the volumes to external hard drives and then open them on a different computer–provided you install TrueCrypt (it’s available in a portable configuration) and remember your passcode.

If such security seems excessive to you, ask yourself a simple question–Are you sure you’d want other folks to see what’s in those work-related (or even personal stuff like health) data files? To have unrestricted access to confidential data?

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