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What is full disk encryption and why businesses need it to protect data.


By Ralph Figueiredo

Full Disk encryption (FDE) is a technology that protects information by converting data into unreadable code that cannot be deciphered easily by unauthorized access. FDE is different from typical application level encryption because it can protect all the data on a device and not just the data within a database or a specific folder for instance.

FDE protects data by restricting access to the encrypted laptop, desktop or server at the BIOS level, even before the operating system runs. So in the event that someone tries to access a device with different credentials (even admin or helpdesk access), the data is encrypted. Admins and Help Desk engineers may access the system if granted specific access, but the data can still remain encrypted. FDE It also works offline on devices like USB thumb drives, Email Attachments and Data Backups

Full Disk encryption offers the following benefits:

  1. Nearly everything is encrypted, that includes the swap space and the temporary files. Encrypting these files is important, as they can reveal important confidential data, possibly allowing hackers and ID Thieves to back door into a system.
  2. With full disk encryption, the decision of which files to encrypt is automatic and does not need the users’ discretion or content awareness. Makes the process cost effective and fast.
  3. After the initial install, the system can barely tell that encryption is running in the background.

Protecting information is more important these days. Businesses are now liable for any data breaches concerning customer’s data. Just recently California senate passed the S.B. 46 bill which enhances the previous SB1386 bill related to data breach notifications. SB46 now adds data elements like passwords, security questions and answers for all accounts, other than just financial accounts.

FDE is also available as a fully hosted, managed encryption service or as a SaaS service. This alleviates the need for in-house encryption expertise or in-house servers and management software or overhead.



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