Data Encryption

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Data Encryption


Encryption scrambles electronic data to make it unreadable. Only authorized persons who have the electronic key, or password, can unscramble the information back into its readable form. Encryption is a security standard for protecting email conversations and sensitive data on your phone, hard drive, laptop or even saved individual files.

Even a single failure to encrypt sensitive data, whether through email, lost/stolen flash drive or mobile device, can result in a security breach with criminal or civil liabilities and irreparable harm to finances and the reputation of the university.

The following items—while not a comprehensive list—are examples of sensitive data:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Credit card numbers
  • Bank account information
  • Driver's license numbers
  • Patient and student information (HIPAA/FERPA)
  • Proprietary research and legal data

ITCS Recommends the Following Data Encryption Tools


Transfer and Store Sensitive Files

IronKey Encrypted Flash Drives. Secure, hardware-encrypted, tamper-resistant and password-protected. You will need to determine your storage capacity needs (e.g. 4GB or 8GB); the basic version is recommended. There are several suppliers of this device including IronKey, NewEgg and CDW-G.

Encrypt a Drive

BitLocker Drive Encryption. Included as part of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, BitLocker encrypts an entire drive rather than individual files. A drive can be password-protected, decrypted or BitLocker can be temporarily suspended at any time by the authorized user. Visit the Microsoft.com BitLocker page for instructions to turn on BitLocker encryption.

Encrypt Individual Files

WinZip. Good for encrypting, compressing (reducing the file size) and sharing individual files.  Learn more at the WinZip website.

Encrypt Email Messages and Attachments

IronPort. If you have to send sensitive information, such as HIPAA or FERPA data, to an entity outside of the ECU network, then IronPort is a solution for your encrypted correspondence. Learn more at the email encryption page.

WinZip. If your email attachment(s) contain sensitive information, then WinZip is a solution for encrypting, reducing the size, and sharing these files.  Learn more at the WinZip website.

For additional options or more information, please request a consult through the IT Help Desk at https://ithelp.ecu.edu or 252.328.9866.

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