So, you make your backups onto a portable hard drive or USB flash drive. What happen if you leave one of these on a train with your patient/customer records, or personal family photos/bank statements on it?
There are many ways to protect this data from falling into the wrong hands. If you have Windows Vista or Windows 7 Ultimate/Enterprise editions, you can use BitLocker whole drive encryption to encrypt a whole drive. This is very easy to use and is included with those editions of Windows. You can also use it to encrypt those USB flash drives “memory” sticks that often get left on trains.. etc. It beggars belief that government officials or media people with confidential data don’t encrypt this stuff as it is not so difficult.
Another method is to use NTFS encryption. This allows you to encrypt individual files or folders and is only available with business editions of Windows, i.e not with XP home, Vista home, or Windows 7 home. It is a bit more complex to use as you have to convert the USB flash drive to the NTFS file system for it to be effective.
Perhaps the most powerful and flexible option is to use True Crypt. This is a freeware open source encryption programme that is fully portable and can be use to encrypt whole drives or individual folers/files. The nice thing about this, is that you can use it with any version of Windows and indeed Macs and Linux systems. So no OS upgrades necessary. It is quite simple to use, perhaps a bit less simple than BitLocker but in my opinion easier than NTFS
And even the FBI are foiled by True Crypt – so don’t forgot your password, if you do, no-one can help you get your data back