Encrypt confidential, sensitive, or high-risk information
To better protect the sensitive data that the University of Delaware collects, all computer files that contain confidential, sensitive, or high-risk information must be encrypted.
Encryption is a process whose goal is to make data usable only by those who are authorized to do so. When you encrypt a file you use a specific key to make a copy that is generally unreadable. The file can only be decoded using a matching decryption protocol and an appropriate decryption key. In essence, encryption is a form of digital lock that prevents anyone from accessing data without one of these keys. If a computer is stolen or used by someone without permission, encrypted files and folders will be inaccessible.
- If possible, do not store confidential information or PII on any computer or electronic device.
- If you must store confidential information or PII on your computer, the files must be encrypted.
- Store all sensitive data in a single folder (Windows) or a single disk image (Mac) and encrypt the folder or disk image. This will help ensure that all confidential information is encrypted when not in use.
- Use a strong password that is difficult or impossible to guess. Encryption only works if the password is kept secure.
UD IT routinely scans University servers to identify unencrypted files containing Social Security Numbers (SSNs). Any unencrypted file containing SSNs found on the servers will be encrypted with AES Crypt. If you see a file with the ".aes" file extension, it has been encrypted. To receive the password to decrypt the file, contact the IT Support Center.
Recommended encryption tool
IT recommends using AES Crypt, software that will encrypt files on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers. We have published directions for installing and using AES Crypt on Windows computers. If you require assistance using AES Crypt on a Macintosh or Linux system, check with your department's IT professional or contact the IT Support Center.