Before Using Any Encryption Program
The purpose of any encryption software is to make data unreadable if proper authentication is not provided. Issues including permanent loss of data can occur if you do not adequately prepare your computer and data before installing or beginning to use encryption.
Verify that the software is compatible with your computer and existing software.
Review the program's installation and help documents to understand how you will be using it.
It is also important that you do not forget or lose any password you set in an encryption program. Doing so may mean that you can no longer access the files; many programs do not provide a backup method to decrypt data without the password.
Disk Encryption and Pre-Boot Authentication
Not all programs listed below can provide pre-boot authentication; it is indicated where available.
Symantec Endpoint Encryption
CUMC IT is able to offer Symantec Endpoint Encryption (SEE - formerly called GuardianEdge or GE) for compatible Windows computers.
Note that SEE is not the same as Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP), the antivirus program used by many Columbia faculty, staff and students; SEP does not offer encryption.
Cost: Columbia University has limited licensed copy.
Encryption: AES 128 bit/256 bit
Password authentication: Yes
Usage: for the CUMC IT download form please click here.
In the event the encrypted password is forgotten, Symantec Endpoint Encryption provides a
self-service mechanism to retrieve the lost password. This feature is only
available in SEE, whereas in the free products mentioned below if
the password is lost, it can never be retrieved, and the encrypted
information is inaccessible even to the legitimate users.
Use: BitLocker is available on Windows 7 computers for hard drive and USB drive encryption. Some versions of BitLocker are not compatible with Windows Home Edition etc., please review all program information for compatibility.
Use: Disk encryption software for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, Linux; allows for USB drive encryption as well. Pre-boot authentication is available for some versions of Windows, see the vendor's website for full details.
Cost: Free/Open Source
Encryption: AES-256, Serpent, Twofish
Password: Yes, required to decrypt partitions/volumes
Use: Encryption of individual files (Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, etc.)
Cost: Included with Office
Encryption: AES-128/256 encryption
Password: Yes, files can be password protected
Usage: Open or create the file you would like to encrypt. Find the password protection options (Office 2010 for Windows look in File - Info; Office 2011 for Mac open Tools - Protection; otherwise use the program's Help menu) and follow the prompts to set a password.