Stories about missing laptops containing confidential information are becoming an everyday occurrence so I wasn’t surprised when I came across this story about about a pilot’s missing laptop causing security concerns at a number of airports.
I’m not going to beat up on the pilot or the TSA they seem to have handled the incident properly. What I am going to do use this as chance to beat the Safe Hex drum.
What bothers isn’t that laptop containing confidential was apparently stolen, that happens more often than anyone would like it to. What bothers me is the apparent lack of encryption. If you’re carrying around a laptop that contains confidential information you should be using some type of encryption to protect that information. No technology is fool proof or 100 percent effective but using products like PGP whole Disk Encryption greatly reduces the chances that the bad guys will be able to exploit the data on a stolen laptop.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s your personal financial information or pass codes for airport security checkpoints you need to take steps to protect it. Making sure your laptop requires a user name and strong password* to log on is a good first step. Adding encrypting, whether it’s whole disk encryption or just file encryption is an important second level of protection that all to often over looked.
*A strong password should be at least 8 characters and include letters, numbers, mixed capitalization and at least one special character. It should also be easy to remember but hard to guess.