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Office of Information Technology

Frequently Asked Questions about Workstation Encryption

Faculty and Staff Instructions

What is encryption?

Encryption is the coding or scrambling of information so that it can only be decoded and read by someone who has the correct decoding key (password). Back to List


What is the difference between whole-disk and file/folder level encryption?

Whole-disk encryption software encrypts all the files on your hard drive, including system files. File and folder level encryption only encrypts specific files or folders that you have intentionally selected for encryption. Back to List


What can PGP's whole disk encryption software do?

PGP whole disk encryption software ensures that no unauthorized user may access the device and read data or use the device as a tool to enter American University's network. If a device gets into unauthorized hands, the data is securely protected even if the hard disk is removed. The entire hard disk is completely encrypted and requires your authentication before the data can be accessed. Back to List


Is PGP's whole disk encryption software easy to use?

Yes. It is a fully automated encryption running in the background, which means there is no change to the way you interact with your computer and no user training is required. Back to List


Will the encryption software slow down my computer?

No. Once the encryption software is installed, the only change in the end-user experience with PGP Whole Disk Encryption is the addition of an authentication screen as soon as the computer is turned on. This pre-boot authentication screen protects the system from being accessed by unauthorized users by disabling their ability to attack operating system–level authentication mechanisms. Back to List


Does PGP's whole disk encryption software facilitate the recovery of a lost or stolen computer?

No. PGP's whole disk encryption only protects the data stored on the hard drive, so that unauthorized users cannot access it. The computer may not be recovered; however, the data will be protected. Back to List


Does PGP's whole disk encryption software support Macintosh computers?

Yes. There is a version of the PGP whole disk encryption software available to support Macintosh OS X computers. Back to List


What assistance do we have for the visually impaired?

PGP has an audio feature that can be enabled. A double beep at login is the audio cue indicating that PGP is ready for you to login with your username and password. A high-low beep indicates an incorrect password has been typed in. A low-high beep indicates you have logged in successfully. If you want this feature enabled, please contact the IT Help Desk for assistance. Back to list.

I'm having problems with my password, it doesn't seem to be synchronizing between PGP and Windows. What should I do?

This issue is resolved when you move to an AU configured Windows 7 workstation. It can be resolved for those with Windows XP workstations. For assistance with this issue, please contact the IT Help Desk for assistance. Back to list.