University Systems help centre

While Whole Disk Encryption helps mitigate risks to information associated with physical loss or theft by encrypting the entire hard drive in your laptop or desktop computer, you may find you also need to encrypt individual files.  For example, when sending attachments containing personally identifiable information (PII) or confidential information as an attachment to email, you may want to encrypt the attachment first.  This will help mitigate risk of exposing that information to parties and systems in between you and the recipient, or if a message is accidentally sent to unintended recipients.

Use strong passwords or passphrases

Using a strong file encryption password or passphrase will ensure the information contained in the file is well protected.  Do not use the same password as you use for your NetlinkID or other account passwords, especially if you will be sharing the file with others.

Safely communicate the encryption password to recipients

When you send an encrypted file to someone or share the encrypted files among colleagues, you will need to communicate the password or passphrase to them.  Never send passwords by email, especially if you are also sending the encrypted file as an email attachment.  Tell them the password via telephone, at a meeting in person, or through another secure communication method.

Common applications supporting file encryption

Some of the applications that are likely installed on your computer have built-in file encryption functionality.  These include: