Disk encryption software is computer security software used to prevent unauthorized access to data storage. It protects data confidentiality stored on a storage device such as a hard disk or solid state drive (SSD) by using disk encryption. Encrypted data, also known as ciphertext, is information that has been encoded and can only be accessed with the correct encryption key. Data encryption is used to discourage stealing sensitive computer data.
Disk encryption types
There are a couple types of disk encryption that differ in how data is secured:
- Full-disk encryption: Not unlike the protection of your home it applies encryption to the entire hard drive including swap and hidden files without user intervention. However, full-disk encryption does not protect files that are sent via email or copied to a memory stick or otherwise transferred. When this happens, they are no longer encrypted.
- File-level encryption: It protects specific files that are manually encrypted. File-level encryption offers role-based access controls that allow for more granular access based on the role a worker has within their organization. It depends on the user to perform a manual action to make sure files are encrypted before storage or transfer.
File-level encryption can be used in conjunction with full-disk encryption. This is beneficial for manually encrypting the files that need to be shared within an organization that lose encryption with a full-disk deployment.
Disk encryption software providers
In choosing a disk encryption solution, consider the ease of managing and recovering encryption keys, if the product is compatible with your applications and infrastructure, what platforms and operating systems are supported, and if you want software that does more than disk encryption, such as handling removable and network-attached storage (NAS). Here are some popular disk encryption software providers:
- Apple FileVault 2
- Check Point SandBlast Agent
- Bitlocker – included with the Windows operating system
- Eset Endpoint Encryption Pro