Zeit Online recently leaked documents indicating that the German Ministry of Economic Affairs has concerns about Trusted Platform Module technology built into Microsoft Windows 8. Though this technology has been present since 2006, concerns surrounding the latest version include the possibility that Microsoft could control computers and tablets remotely and that there is not an override. The German Federal Office for Information Security also issued a press release expressing concerns about a loss of control over both the Windows operating system and hardware when Windows 8 and Trusted Platform Module Technology are used.
While it's hard to imagine Microsoft plotting to control individual PCs remotely, it's not hard to imagine spyware developers and cybercriminals looking for ways to exploit Trusted Platform Module technology and Windows 8. Whole disk encryption software may offer some protection against malicious attacks. If your computers contain sensitive information – as most do, adding whole disk encryption software to your system renders the contents of your hard disk unreadable to unauthorized users.
Whole disk and laptop encryption are essential security tools that allow authorized users to access and use the contents of their hard disks after "unlocking" the software. However, if the computer falls into the wrong hands or is remotely hacked into, those contents are rendered indecipherable.
When choosing whole disk encryption software, it's important to balance security with usability – without sacrificing security. If laptop encryption software is difficult to use or adversely affects performance, for example, users may disable the software out of frustration. When this happens, the hard disk becomes vulnerable once again to data loss.
Another consideration involves when authentication takes place. In some cases, operating systems protected by whole disk encryption software are vulnerable to hacking and data theft during the pre-boot phase. This is before the software loads and actively protecting the disk. This is akin to a thief forcing his way into a bank vault before the banker has had a chance to secure the vault door. It doesn't matter how secure the vault would have been had the door been shut and locked if the vault door is open and unsecured for any period of time. Hackers look for and exploit windows of opportunity.
With pre-boot authentication, the hard disk is locked down from unauthorized access during the typically vulnerable pre-boot process. Depending on what type of whole disk encryption software you invest it, you can unlock the hard disk by using a password, fingerprint reader, smart cards, USB tokens, or a combination of factors.
Fortunately, whole disk encryption software is available that is user-friendly and fully secure during the pre-boot phase. For example, Winmagic offers several encryption solutions for enterprise networks, small business networks, and individual computers. Its SecureDoc for Windows, which offers support for some Windows 8 computers, offers enterprise-class security for individual computers. In addition to protecting the hard disk from prying eyes, it also offers encryption for removable media such as USB thumb drives.
Whether you're concerned about the Trusted Platform Module in Windows 8 or information security in general, investing in whole disk encryption software is a smart choice.
Daniel Gail is the author of this article on the German government being concerned about Windows 8 security. He informs his readers on how crucial it's to be working with a secure operating system, which is why he recommends installing a self encrypting hard drive (Source: InfoSecurity Magazine) . In his free time he enjoys graphic design and writing books.