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Dated: Apr. 24, 2012
Related CategoriesWindows XP
Overview of Encryption
Encryption is a process in which sensitive information is converted into a complex code that is not easily readable by anyone. In order to make the encrypted information readable it must be decrypted using appropriate keys.
While encrypting information complex algorithms are used and their strengths may vary depending on the value of the data. The more valuable the data is, the stronger encryption algorithms are preferred and used to maintain integrity and security of the sensitive information.
In production environments, where domain-based network infrastructure is established, administrators mostly prefer to use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) in order to maintain the security of the sensitive information throughout the organization. In such cases Certificate Authority (CA) servers are configured and managed by the security administrators of the organizations. Internal Certificate Authority servers are mostly used when the encryption and decryption process has to take place within the organization only. Organizations that deal with external clients, such as online shopping sites, mostly rely on globally trusted third-party Certificate Authority services. A good example of such third-party organization is VeriSign.
Also, Microsoft Windows 7 has an integrated BitLocker feature which, when enabled, encrypts entire system drive and requires secret key while booting up the system. The biggest challenge that administrators face while using BitLocker is that the feature requires an integrated hardware chip named Trusted Platform Module (TPM). In case the TPM chip is not available administrators must modify group policy settings before they can use BitLocker drive encryption tool.
Encryption in Small-Scale Industries or Homes
The above mentioned encryption solutions are only valuable if an organization falls in the category of medium or large-scale. However when it comes to small-scale organizations or security of data in homes, users can use Microsoft Windows 7’s built-in encryption tool which is quite straightforward and easy-to-configure and does not require technical skills.
While enabling Windows built-in encryption users must keep few points in mind:
- After they have encrypted the entire drive or file or folder, encryption keys must be backed up. This is important because if, because of key loss, users fail to decrypt the data, encryption keys can be restored from the backup and the data can be decrypted.
- Administrators must also assign Data Decryption Agents or DDAs so that in case the user who has encrypted the data is unavailable, data can still be made available with the help of DDAs.
- Once administrators plan to use encryption, at least one user account must be promoted as a Data Recovery Agent or DRA so that the encrypted files can be made available in the absence of the user accounts who have initially encrypted the files.
Encrypting Folders in Microsoft Windows
In order to encrypt folders and their contents, users or administrators must follow the steps given exactly as below:
- Log on to Windows computer.
- Locate the desired folder that has to be encrypted and once located, right click the folder.
- From the context menu click Properties.
- On the opened properties box make sure that General tab is selected.
- Click Advanced button and on the opened Advanced Attributes box under Compress or Encrypt attributes section check Encrypt contents to secure data checkbox.
- Once checked, click OK to close the box and back on properties box click OK.
- On the opened Confirm Attribute Changes box make sure that Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files radio button is selected and finally click OK button to encrypt the folder and its contents.
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