Office of the Chief Information Security Officer

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. How cyber aware are you? Find out over the next few weeks as we share our top security tips, straight from the Office of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). 


Encrypt to Protect - Learn More

It’s Your Personal Information: Encrypt to Protect

In the time it takes you to read this article, two laptops will have been stolen. One of them could be yours. 

What did they take?

It’s more than a piece of hardware — your laptop could contain your grades, class notes, and years of research. Your student records could be saved on that hard drive, along with your banking information, tuition statements, and social insurance number.

Maybe your laptop is protected with a password. Maybe you’ve even made backups of all your work. But unless your device is encrypted, anyone can bypass your password and access all your personal information.

What is encryption?

Encryption is a process that turns the information stored on your device into unintelligible text characters that cannot be deciphered and read without the decryption key An encrypted device will not convert its encrypted information back into plaintext unless the user provides the correct password. Encrypting your device ensures that if someone takes it, they cannot read it.

Why do I need to encrypt?

As a member of the UAlberta community, your devices contain sensitive information about the University, its research, and its people. Even if you think the information on your device is useless, a hacker or identity thief may see it as a goldmine. 

A study by the security organization Kensington revealed that: 

  • One laptop is stolen every 53 seconds.
  • 70 million smartphones are lost each year, with only 7 percent recovered.
  • 80 percent of the cost of a lost laptop is from data breach.

These statistics show that we need to keep cybersecurity front of mine, all the time.

How do I encrypt my device?

Your IT professional can help you encrypt your device. Just ask.

To encrypt your device on your own, follow the instructions in these resources:

For instructions on encrypting any other device, contact IST or your IT professional.