With the advent of Windows Vista, Microsoft offered BitLocker Drive Encryption designed to protect customer information by encrypting machines in order to guarantee that the data was safe especially in scenarios involving stolen computers. BitLocker grew with the addition of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista, and Windows 7 will bring the next step in the feature's evolution under the label BitLocker To Go. The Enterprise and Ultimate editions of Windows 7 will permit customers to encrypt not only local hard drives, but also removable media, with the focus on USB keys. In this regard, Microsoft has ensured that USB devices encrypted with BitLocker To Go are backward compatible with Windows XP and Windows Vista via the BitLocker To Go Reader, allowing a certain level of access to data.
“BitLocker To Go was designed to facilitate the secure sharing of data on removable storage devices and was designed to work on any standard removable storage device. No special, proprietary hardware is required. So now, whether you are traveling with your laptop, sharing large files with a trusted partner, or taking work home, you can feel secure that your data is safe. Both traditional BitLocker and BitLocker To Go protected devices help ensure that only authorized users can read the data, even if the media is lost, stolen, or misused,” revealed Paul Cooke, Microsoft director, Windows Client Enterprise Security.
In the video embedded at the bottom of this article you will be able to see Cooke and Steven Michalove, Microsoft IT principal security strategist, Information Security, demonstrate BitLocker To Go. As far as corporate customers are concerned, one aspect that must be emphasized is the integration between BitLocker and Group Policy in Windows 7, giving admins a high level of control over just how users can interact with encrypted USB devices in the IT environment.
“I can use BitLocker To Go to share data with a Windows user who is running Windows Vista or Windows XP through the BitLocker To Go Reader. This application is installed by default on removable storage volumes and allows read-only access on older versions of Windows while still allowing you to help protect your USB sticks,” Cooke added.