I think that data security should be one of the top concerns for computer users. If your computer is stolen, often the impact of confidential or proprietary data being lost or compromised can be much higher than the cost of replacing computer itself.
There are many easy ways of keeping your data out of the wrong hands
A login password consisting of a username and password to login to ones computer is the most basic security methods used today to gain access to a computer. But what about a shared computer systems others may have access to your data, especially anyone with an administrator account on the system
A login password does not protect data. Your hard drive cans still be accessed and its as simple and pulling the drive out and hooking it up to a USB cable on another system. And with advancement in tech. The thief can boot your system from a Live CD or USB thumb drive and get full access to your data. It’s that simple.
Okay, so I will now enable a BIOS password.
A BIOS system password prevents the system from booting ANY device without the correct password. It protects the physical system from being used, and goes a step beyond the login password above, by preventing the system from booting any attached drive (including removable ones). However, it’s still easy to defeat on desktop systems — a motherboard jumper can clear the password. Again, a BIOS password doesn’t protect the physical data on the hard drive — the drive can be put in a different machine and accessed.
What about hard drive passwords? This is the next step, but not the last on my list of what to do
Hard Drive Passwords
A hard drive password or “hard drive lock” will cause the drive to not work until the correct password is entered. This follows the drive even if it’s removed from the system, and provides a level of security against a good number of would-be data thieves.
The drive can’t be used or reformatted. However, its not encryption — it’s read/write protection, and tools exist to remove it. tools can be found here and my best set of all around tools here
I have had an hard time hard disk passwords in my day. Especially when I set a hard drive down for a long period of time and can no longer remember the password. This is why I choose encryption of data on disk.
Encrypting the underlying data itself is one of the best ways to protect your data against compromise. AES encryption is almost unbreakable due to the theoretical limits pf an Brute-force attack. When it comes at a hit to system performance. TrueCrypt and Windows BitLocker are both great implementations of full-disk encryption software.
There are many ways to protect your data and all of the above are good methods; some protection is better than none at all. I advise you to “do the needful” and secure your system as best you can.