Cyber security is one of the fastest growing technologies in information technology and as technology grows, so does our need to protect our data. Aside from drive failure, one of the biggest culprits of data loss is unintended data encryption.
A lot of services we access in this day and age have some kind of security or encryption. This is true for services such as online banking, Virtual Private Networks and Cloud storage. Encryption is important to protect information such as customer billing information, confidential client information as well as sensitive company information.
Apple has had the option for users to encrypt their data since 2003 with the introduction of FileVault which allowed users to encrypt their user’s directory and was later followed by FileVault2 in 2013 which currently allows users to encrypt their entire hard drive.
Not sure if encryption is right for you?
There are different reasons why people encrypt their data. Some companies or professions require people to encrypt all their data by law to protect company or client information while others may choose to do so to protect sensitive information. It is important to note that many services we access on a day-to-day basis already have encryption built into it which is maintained by the companies which provide the service.
Aside from the encryption that we unknowingly use in our day-to-day basis, we also have the option to encrypt our own data using provided features of some technologies. If you do not know what encryption is or how it works, cannot remember what your passwords are, and forget to do regular backups, encryption may not be right for you
The easiest way to check if you are encrypting your data is to go to System Preferences and go under Security & Privacy. Next we are going to go to the FileVault tab where it will say whether you have have this feature turned on or off as well as the message:
“WARNING: You will need your login password or a recovery key to access your data. A recovery key is automatically generated as part of the setup. If you forget both your password and recovery key, the data will be lost.”
FileVault’s encryption protects your files by securing the entire hard drive and will follow the drive wherever it goes. This means you cannot simply plug an encrypted drive into another computer to get around its security. Due to this, it is always best to be in the habit of doing backups regularly and in multiple locations. FileVault does not encrypt backups when backing up through Apple’s Time Machine feature by default, unless of course the backup is being done locally to the drive and therefore it is best to back up data externally or to the cloud as your encryption will not follow. Note that Time Machine backups can be encrypted as well.
I always find the best practice is to have two places I am backing-up to. This can include syncing to iCloud as well as having an external drive to back-up to daily, or if i am not using it regularly, weekly. another option is to have two external drives to back up to that are interchanged on a weekly on monthly basis. Depending on the amount of data you are backing up, it may be more cost effective to use two external drives but, cloud storage generally adds the ability to access it anytime and from anywhere although it normally has a monthly or yearly fee associated with it.
There is such a thing as being too secure; Many services can be opted out of.
Stay secure, but not too secure!
– Gregory Bartlett