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BitLocker and BitLocker To Go

​Today, more laptops are sold than are desktops. And tablet PCs have exceeded sales than all PCs put together. The reason – Mobility. People are expected to provide data wherever they are – whether in Office or outside. And how can they do that if they don't have access to data? Data is expected to travel with the user and has resulted in a crawl of devices.

"A desktop on every desk" was the vision of Microsoft's Bill Gates which today seems a puny aspiration. Most of the users handle more than two devices at any given time. So the data that is being carried in the laptops and tablets are prone to mishandling or pilferage. Moreover, since these devices are portable, it is carried everywhere and the risk of losing them by misplacing them or being stolen is very high and real. This is when we need to seriously look at protecting the data in these devices.

Microsoft has included a very powerful feature in its new client OS called the BitLocker to prevent loss of data due to the loss of the device. (This was available even in the Windows Vista OS but has picked up popularity lately with the Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 OSs flooding the scene within a short span of three years). BitLocker protects the data in a hard disk from unauthorized access by encrypting it and enabling decryption of data using a password. Here are some additional details:

  • Prevents unauthorized access to data on lost or stolen PCs
  • Supports full volume encryption of OS and Data volumes
  • Offers variety of pre-boot authentication options:
    • TPM*-only, PIN/Password, Network Unlock, USB storage
  • Supports PCs, Servers, and "Slate" form factors

TPM - Trusted Platform Module - an additional security hardware chip built inside the PC system.

Since external storage devices like pen drives and other USB devices are extensively being used, the need for protecting the data in these devices was also felt. Windows 8/8.1 has this additional security feature in place in the name of BitLocker to Go. Here are some additional details on this feature:

  • Used to protect data on removable drives
  • Able to deny or grant write access to volumes by organization
  • Enables read-only access on Windows Vista & Windows XP