The recent launch of the UBC Privacy Matters initiative reminds us that each of us is responsible for protecting the personal and health information that we store or handle.
What is personal information?
A formal definition of personal information is: “recorded information about an identifiable individual other than business contact information.” For example, student contact information, enrollment or exam results are considered personal information.
Why is encryption vital?
At UBC, we are responsible for a significant amount of personal and health information about students, faculty, staff, and patients. Regulatory and legal requirements mandate that we protect the privacy and security of this information, and encryption is one of the best ways to do that.
What does encryption do?
Encryption “scrambles” the contents of a computer hard drive and is difficult to bypass.
I use passwords or passcodes on my devices. Isn’t that good enough?
No. A simple logon password or passcode can be bypassed by technically knowledgeable individuals.
What devices do I need to encrypt?
It is UBC policy that all mobile devices that store personal information be encrypted, as they are particularly vulnerable to loss or theft. These devices include: laptop computers, tablet computers, smartphones, USB keys, and portable hard drives. We also recommend encrypting desktop computers that store personal information.
Note: iPhones with iOS 8 or later are already encrypted
How do I encrypt my laptop?
If Psychiatry IT maintains your laptop computer (macOS or Windows):
Please contact us (email@example.com) to have it encrypted. You will be without your laptop for a few hours (depending on the size of your hard drive). Once returned, the laptop must be kept running for a couple of days to complete the encryption process. You can still use the laptop during this time.
If you maintain your own computer, it is up to you to encrypt it yourself.
- For macOS: use the built in FileVault software
- Computers with business versions of Microsoft Windows: use the built in BitLocker software
- If your Windows version (e.g. most Windows 7) doesn’t include BitLocker: we recommend VeraCrypt
How do I use an encrypted laptop?
To unencrypt the laptop, all users must type a password when they start the computer before MacOS or Windows will start. It is VITAL that you do not keep the encryption password with the computer, or it will defeat the purpose of the encryption.