The first place to start is your own computer. Many people don’t realize that Microsoft has its own encryption that is either already available on a user’s operating system or can be added via a plug-in. Since the process varies from operating system to operating system, here’s a breakdown of the Windows encryption process on Microsoft’s different versions and platforms.
Note: Prior to beginning the encryption process on Windows 8.1, it’s important that you have a backup ready, as well as your Microsoft administrator account password, in case you get locked out during the encryption process.
With 8.1, Microsoft builds encryption into its operating system. Users are also given the option of BitLocker protection. Basic encryption is enabled by default, but to check your settings, simply enter “encryption” in your search box. Your device must meet minimum Microsoft specifications if you’re upgrading to 8.1 from an older piece of equipment. You’ll also need to log in with a Microsoft account that has administrator privileges to back up the recovery key to Microsoft’s servers. To enable BitLocker, search for BitLocker and choose “Turn on BitLocker.” You may be asked for an administrator password to complete the action. Be sure you set up a recovery key before enabling BitLocker for the first time to avoid losing access to your files.
Windows 8 Professional/Windows 7 Ultimate
In professional editions of Windows 8 and Windows 7 Ultimate, BitLocker is available to encrypt a device, but it must first be turned on. To find BitLocker, enter the term into the search box. As mentioned above, you will be required to sign in with your Microsoft account to change BitLocker settings. The best thing about BitLocker is that users aren’t required to enter a password at boot-up, unlike other applications available on the market. The software runs completely in the background, preventing infiltration by anyone who doesn’t know your Windows logon password.
Windows 7 users have the option of using TrueCrypt’s free encryption program. By following the steps in the Beginner’s Tutorial, even a beginner can set up and deploy TrueCrypt software on a PC. TrueCrypt gives users the option of encrypting the entire disk or one drive. With TrueCrypt, like other third-party encryption software solutions, you’ll be required to enter an extraordinarily long password at boot-up, but a slight inconvenience is worth it for a free solution.
Device encryption is available in Windows Phone 8.1, but it must be set up at the enterprise level. In order to set up encryption, users must connect the phone to a network running Exchange ActiveSync and choose “RequireDeviceEncryption.” More information about Windows Phone for Business is available on Microsoft’s website.
The fact that encryption is included in newer versions of Microsoft’s OS shows promise for the future of data security. Mobile device encryption is still a developing concept, but as cybercriminals turn their attentions to tablets and smartphones, demand for enhanced mobile security will grow, leading developers to devise solutions that meet that demand.