Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 9:31am

If you have a university-owned mobile device (laptop, tablet, or external storage) that has not yet been encrypted, the Information Security and Policy Office recommends reaching out to your local technology support provider to help the university meet its Dec. 31 deadline.

It’s important to let IT support staff assist to ensure that your data can be recovered in the event of a device malfunction or forgotten password. Please do not turn on the encryption manually.

Encryption is a way to protect sensitive data if devices are lost, damaged, or stolen. The UI has already encrypted over two-thirds of its mobile devices and IT staff are working hard to complete the initiative by the end of the calendar year, as required by the Board of Regents.

“We’re making great progress in this important security initiative,” says Jane Drews, the UI’s Chief Information Security Officer. “IT staff are working diligently to get mobile devices encrypted, and we’ve had several information sessions to answer questions. We just want to remind everyone, especially with holidays coming, that we need to wrap up the process in the coming weeks.”

Encryption protects digital information by scrambling it as it travels across the Internet, or while it’s stored on computers. It ensures that only authorized users can decrypt (unscramble) the information and use it. It’s used in “https” connections from a browser to a website, cell phone communications to towers, and on wireless networks that require you to log in with a password.

Drews says while most cyber-criminals work their attacks over the network, physical theft also happens—and if a computer falls into the wrong hands, it is not hard to access its contents. When the storage is encrypted, methods of bypassing your password to access the data will fail.

What do faculty and staff need to do?

  • Once the encryption is complete, you will not notice a difference in the functionality or performance of your computer. (At login, the disk is decrypted in order to operate. Newer laptops only require a HawkID password, but older models of some laptops may require a startup password followed by HawkID login.)
  • Remember to never leave a portable device unattended. Configure it to use a screen saver that requires the password to reopen after only a few minutes of inactivity.

More information

  • For questions or concerns on encryption, contact your local UI IT support person or the Information Security & Policy Office, it-security@uiowa.edu or 319-335-6332.
  • For more information and FAQ, please visit the mobile encryption webpage.