While convenient and easy to use, USB flash drives can put organisational data at risk of unauthorised access. Individuals use them to store confidential, business and other information. USB drives make it convenient to access file between the office and home, and on the road. A lost or stolen USB memory stick is a complete disaster as whoever finds it can access all the stored data unless it is encrypted. Learn to password protect a business USB. If you need help and don’t have time for the article feel free to stop in our office, alternatively we come to you as we now service Business for IT support in Brisbane.

Encrypt business data on portable drives

Encrypting the data on a business USB protects from data surfacing if the USB is lost or sold on. Even if the portable drive is cleaned before sold, it is easy to recover old files simply using off-the-shelf recovery software. It is not so easy to recover previously encrypted files as you need a copy of the decryption key or original credentials to complete the process.

A simple solution often already available on Windows users, is BitLocker To Go.

BitLocker To Go

BitLocker is Microsoft’s encryption tool included in Windows Pro and Enterprise versions from Windows 7 onwards. Using BitLocker To Go means the drive is password protected.

To set up BitLocker To Go (information source: Windows Central):

  1. Connect the relevant USB drive.
  2. Use the Windows key + X keyboard shortcut to open the Power User menu and select Control Panel.
  3. Click System and Security.
  4. Click BitLocker Drive Encryption.
  5. Under BitLocker To Go, go to the drive you want to encrypt.
  6. Click the Turn on BitLocker link.
  7. Check Use a password to open the drive option. Create a password to unlock the drive.
  8. Click Next to continue.
  9. Next you have the choice to save a recovery key to regain access to your files if you forget your password. Select the option most convenient for you, and click Next. Options include:
    1. Save to your Microsoft account
    2. Save to a file.
    3. Print the recovery.
  10. Choose the encryption option that best suits your requirements:
    1. Encrypt used disk space only (faster and best for new PCs and drives).
    2. Encrypt entire drive (slower but best for PCs and drives already in use).
    3. In this step, it is recommended you select ‘Compatible mode’. It ensures you can unlock the drive if you move it to another computer running a previous version of the operating system.
  11. Select between the two encryption options:
    1. New encryption mode (best for fixed drives on this device)
    2. Compatible mode (best for drives that can be moved from this device).
  12. Click Start encrypting to finish the process.

You now have a safe way of transferring, storing nd transporting your data. You can use the encrypted drive on any Windows laptop or PC. If you use the encrypted drive regularly on your PC, select the Automatically unlock on this PC option after you enter the drive password. This way you will not have to enter the password every time you connect the USB drive.

Encrypting USB drives may seem complex, but it is possible for small business to encrypt their data using this simple method. You never need to worry about whether your data is safe.