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Monday, March 18, 2019

How to Protect Your BitLocker-Encrypted Files From Attackers

BitLocker, the encryption technology built into Windows, has taken some hits lately. A recent exploit demonstrated removing a computer’s TPM chip to extract its encryption keys, and many hard drives are breaking BitLocker. Here’s a guide to avoiding BitLocker’s pitfalls.

Note that these attacks all require physical access to your computer. That’s the whole point of encryption—to protect a thief who stole your laptop or someone that gains access to your desktop PC from viewing your files without your permission.

Standard BitLocker Isn’t Available on Windows Home

While nearly all modern consumer operating systems ship with encryption by default, Windows 10 still doesn’t provide encryption on all PCs. Macs, Chromebooks, iPads, iPhones, and even Linux distributions offer encryption to all their users. But Microsoft still doesn’t bundle BitLocker with Windows 10 Home.

Some PCs may come with similar encryption technology, which Microsoft originally called “device encryption” and now sometimes calls “BitLocker device encryption.” We’ll cover that in the next section. However, this device encryption technology is more limited than full BitLocker.

How an Attacker Can Exploit This: There’s no need for exploits! If your Windows Home PC just isn’t encrypted, an attacker can remove the hard drive or boot another operating system on your PC to access your files.

The Solution: Pay $99 for an upgrade to Windows 10 Professional and enable BitLocker. You could also consider trying another encryption solution like VeraCrypt, the successor of TrueCrypt, which is free.

RELATED: Why Does Microsoft Charge $100 for Encryption When Everyone Else Gives It Away?

BitLocker Sometimes Uploads Your Key to Microsoft

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