Definition

hard-drive encryption

Hard-drive encryption is a technology that encrypts the data stored on a hard drive using sophisticated mathematical functions. Data on an encrypted hard drive cannot be read by anyone who does not have access to the appropriate key or password. This can help prevent access to data by unauthorized persons and provides a layer of security against hackers and other online threats.

The concept of hard-drive encryption is simple enough. When a file is written to the drive, it is automatically encrypted by specialized software. When a file is read from the drive, the software automatically decrypts it while leaving all other data on the drive encrypted. The encryption and decryption processes are transparent to all common applications such as word processors, databases, spreadsheets or imaging programs. A computer equipped with hard-drive encryption appears, from the user's point of view, to function as any other computer would.

Windows Vista Enterprise and Ultimate editions offer a hard-drive encryption program called BitLocker that employs two-factor authentication.

This was last updated in April 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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