2012 resolution: 'Full disk encryption on all computers'

The privacy rights group is preaching the gospel of encryption in 2012, making the case that whole disk encryption can go a long way to protecting private data on computers.

Privacy rights advocates at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are urging computer users to adopt just one resolution in 2012:  Commit to full disk encryption on every computer you own.

Following the release of a white paper on protecting privacy while traveling with data on digital devices, the EFF is preaching the gospel of encryption in 2012, making the case that whole disk encryption can go a long way to protecting private data on computers.

Full disk encryption uses mathematical techniques to scramble data so it is unintelligible without the right key. This mathematical protection works independently of the policies configured in the operating system software. A different operating system or computer cannot just decide to allow access, because no computer or software can make any sense of the data without access to the right key.

Without encryption, forensic software can easily be used to bypass an account password and read all the files on your computer.

Fortunately, modern computer systems come with comparatively easy full-disk encryption tools that let you encrypt the contents of your hard drive with a passphrase that will be required when you start your computer. Using these tools is the most fundamental security precaution for computer users who have confidential information on their hard drives and are concerned about losing control over their computers — not just at a border crossing, but at any moment during a trip when a computer could be lost or stolen.

The group recommends Microsoft's BitLocker or TrueCrypt to manage the whole disk encryption process.

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