Windows 7 brings several security enhancements that don't sacrifice usability. We look at the five best features that businesses should definitely be using.
BitLocker To Go
One of the most serious security threats facing today's businesses is the loss of a mobile asset containing confidential corporate information. Windows Vista's BitLocker began to address this problem by allowing business users to encrypt a laptop's entire hard drive so that if it were lost or stolen, nobody could access the information stored on it. BitLocker To Go extends the same protection to even more easily lost external drives, including pocket-size hard drives and tiny flash drives.
Available in Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate editions, BitLocker To Go is simple to use: Right-click an external drive in Explorer and select 'Turn on BitLocker' to open a wizard that will walk you through encrypting the drive, wait a while for the process to run, and you're done. The wait depends on the speed of your computer and drives, but expect the initial encryption to take 20 minutes for a 2GB flash drive and up to a full workday for 500GB and larger external hard drives.
BitLocker To Go drives can be decrypted using a user-selected password and/or, in businesses that use them, a smart card for multifactor authentication.
Encrypted removable drives can be created only on Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7, but once you've created one, you can read from and write to it from any Windows 7 computer. You can also install a reader application on the encrypted drive that allows read-only access from Vista and XP computers.
Additional security can be implemented in corporate environments through the use of administrative policies that allow only BitLocker To Go drives to be written to, preventing users from storing data on nonsecure drives. Users of Windows Server can also keep a recovery password in escrow using Active Directory so that lost or forgotten passwords can be recovered.
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