Now as public WiFi spots are proliferating in coffee shops, hotels and various other public places, the use of laptop computers in those places is also increasing dramatically – along with the possibility of machine theft.
A simple User password on the machine (whether Apple, Windows or Linux) will not stop a thief from accessing your data – it’s too easy to boot from something like a Linux live USB drive and be able to extract data from the hard drive.
The only real defence against that is to encrypt the disk.
This is one area where I take grave issue with Microsoft.
Apple (as far as I know) has disk encryption built into OSX. Most of the popular Linux distros have disk encryption built in. Microsoft however, ONLY bundles disk encryption (Bitlocker) in their Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows. It’s not possible to purchase Bitlocker as an add-in – the only way for those users who do not have Pro or Enterprise versions is in fact to upgrade to the Pro version – at a considerable cost, currently £99.99 in the UK. As Windows 8.1 Pro can be purchased in the UK through Amazon for £154, to have to pay nigh on £100 purely for Bitlocker is an outrageous scandal, especially as the other “advantages” of upgrading are only Windows Media Center, and the ability to join a Domain.
Interestingly, my Toshiba WT8 Tablet, with Windows 8.1 (not Pro) DOES come with Bitlocker – so why doesn’t Microsoft make it available for ALL versions of Windows?
Until they do, I am certainly sticking with Linux (Xubuntu) on my laptop machines that I take out and about. Whether I will succumb to Apple at any stage I don’t know – that’s a thought for another day….