Unfortunately, this story is all too real–in fact, it happened to one of my friends just last month.
The problem is that anything on your devices that is private or potentially sensitive. You may not save your bank statements and world domination plans on your computer, but do you save your passwords in your browser? Do you stay logged into your email? Do you have access to anything work-related at all? That kind of stuff can lead thieves right into your life. Even if your user account has a password, it’s trivial to get past that if your device isn’t encrypted.
If your device is encrypted, however, almost no one will be able to access the data within–as long as you have a good password or screen lock, and your device wasn’t confiscated by the FBI.
So if you haven’t done so, take some time today to encrypt all your devices–your laptop, your phone, your tablet, and anything else you may have. It’s quick and easy, and you’ll be much safer if the worst happens. You never think you’ll need these things until it’s too late. (Before you encrypt, though, make sure you’ve backed up your computer–if you forget your password or your drive fails, you will not be able to access your data, so backups are doubly important when you encrypt!)
WindowsA lot of Windows 10 PCs (particularly tablets and hybrids) now ship with encryption enabled by default. To check and see if yours has encryption already running, go into the Settings and click System > About. From there, you can turn Drive Encryption on if your device supports it.
If you only have the Home edition of Windows, and don’t have access to Drive Encryption or BitLocker, you can use third-party software like VeraCrypt to encrypt your drive. Also, on Windows 7, we should note that BitLocker only comes with the Ultimate and Enterprise versions.
Encryption isn’t normally enabled by default on Windows 7 or 8.1. If you use a Windows laptop, then it’s a really good idea to make sure it is.