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Locking Your Disk

November 23, 2012
disk drive

You should be protecting your disks with encryption.

This editorial was originally published on Feb 28, 2008. It is being re-run as Steve is on holiday.

With the tremendous growth in disk sizes and the trend towards more and more people using laptops, someone sent me a note about protecting that data that got me thinking. The SQL Server space has grown tremendously, and not just up. We have SQL Server Express and SQL Server Compact Edition, both of which are designed to run on smaller devices, with (supposedly) smaller data sets. However my phone has more storage than quite a few hard drives I’ve owned in my life and my new laptop rivals the storage in my 3 year old desktop.

It seems that often that administrators don’t think about the data that gets moved off their servers and with new replication and ETL technologies, a significant amount of data might be duplicated on other instances of SQL Server away from your primary database.

And your boss might be expecting that you’ve ensured its security.

So this Friday, I had a poll to see who’s thinking about the issue.

Do you use disk encryption?

Or do you think it’s important? Should you be using it for your laptops?

My laptops really just carry my writings, articles I’m editing, books, etc., and no financial information. I do have Password Safe on them with databases, and I suppose that someone could crack that if given enough time. However since I’m not carrying around data that involves other people, I haven’t worried about it.

I used to have an encrypted disk when I worked for JD Edwards. At first I thought it was a pain, but after a month or so, it wasn’t a big deal. Except when I had booting issues one morning. Talk about being anxious for a few hours. Fortunately the manufacturer has included utilities and a help desk person was able to get my disk unencrypted and then re-encrypted again.

Disk encryption is a good idea and it definitely protects accidentally releases of data. If you carry around client data, financial information, or identity information, I’d highly recommend you use some type of encryption to protect the data. However, as this article shows, that might not be enough.

Steve Jones


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