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Full disk encryption

(also FDE)

Full disk encryption definition

Full disk encryption is a method of data protection that encrypts everything on a storage device except for the code necessary to start the operating system.

Only the correct key can access the data on the encrypted disk. This key is typically a password, which the user has to enter to start the system.

See also: personal identifiable information, encryption key

Usage of full disk encryption

  • Personal computing. Users use FDE to protect their data, including financial information, personal photos, or confidential documents. If a user loses their device, FDE will prevent unauthorized access to their data.
  • Business. This is especially important for laptops and mobile devices that leave the security of the office. If an employee loses such a device or it’s stolen, FDE ensures that any data it contains remains secure.
  • Government and military. FDE secures classified or sensitive information.
  • Healthcare. Regulations in many countries require certain safeguards for patient data, and FDE can help healthcare providers meet these requirements.
  • Financial Services. Banks and other financial institutions protect financial data and personally identifiable customer information using FDE. This is both a best practice and often a regulatory requirement.
  • Law Enforcement. Law enforcement agencies use FDE to protect evidence and other sensitive information like case files or suspect data.