Encryption essentially turns data and content into code that cannot be read without a corresponding decryption key. Encryption is the most effective way to ensure data security.

KU IT provides two types of encryption at KU:

  • Email encryption
  • Whole disk encryption

Email Encryption

Email encryption is a way to send an encoded message that can only be decoded by someone with the proper key. KU uses InCommon digital certificates for email encryption. See the Email Encryption and Digital Signatures page for more information.

Whole Disk Encryption

Whole Disk Encryption means encrypting the hard drive of a computer, so the data on that machine is accessible only by the decryption key holder. Whole Disk Encryption is an essential step in protecting the data on laptops if the device is lost or stolen. It gives you and the university the ability to say with confidence that no data on the device can be accessed or disclosed. Whole Disk Encryption can turn a laptop theft into a far less traumatic event, reducing the need for difficult investigations and embarrassing disclosures.

KU IT requires whole disk encryption for all KU-owned laptops and offers whole disk encryption for desktop workstations. For more information about Whole Disk Encryption or assistance, contact your IT Support Staff, or the IT Customer Service Center at itcsc@ku.edu or 785-864-8080.

International Travel and Encryption

Encryption software is illegal in many countries. Before you travel, it is essential that you understand the encryption and export compliance laws of the countries you'll be visiting. See our IT Security Travel page for information about encryption and international travel.

Whole Disk Encryption FAQs

No. You will log in to your encrypted computer as you do now, with your KU Online ID and password. You will not have to do anything differently on your encrypted computer. Once installed, the Whole Disk Encryption should be completely transparent to you.

Yes. While both are encryption technologies, digital certificates only protect the email messages you encrypt. Whole Disk Encryption protects your entire hard drive and all the data on it.

Yes. While many of us think we never access sensitive data, or store it on our computers, this is rarely the case. Think of Whole Disk Encryption as an insurance policy - your hard drive is protected, even if you think none of your data is sensitive.

No. While Whole Disk Encryption does stop a thief from pulling the hard drive out of your computer and downloading the data, malware can still infect your computer and steal data while you are using it. Whole Disk Encryption is just one layer of security we use to protect sensitive data.

While we are asking IT Support Staff to prioritize encrypting laptops because they are more vulnerable to theft, your IT Support Staff can encrypt your desktop computer’s hard drive at your request.

Microsoft provides information on disk encryption for Windows computers. Apple provides information on disk encryption for Macs and Macbooks.