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Encrypting data when it is stored or transmitted electronically helps us to protect privacy, follow data protection regulations, and resist cyberattacks.

Key takeaways

An illustration of a person standing in front of a padlock and web page

What is encryption?

Encryption is the process of changing information so it can’t be read without authorization. The information is obscured and requires a key – such as a pin number or password – to make it readable again. Modern digital encryption is exceedingly difficult to hack because it uses complex algorithms and long encryption keys.


BitLocker protects university computers by encrypting the information stored on the device. This prevents anyone from accessing the data if it’s lost or stolen, decommissioned or recycled, and from other cyber-attacks.

When you switch on a university laptop, it must be unlocked using a BitLocker pin number. These are unique to each device and are important to remember. You shouldn’t share your pin number.

File sharing

One of the most common causes of data breaches is mistakenly sending sensitive information to the wrong recipient. Rather than attaching a document or file to an email, you should store it on SharePoint and choose specific groups or individuals. Like university computers, data stored on SharePoint is encrypted.


Most websites support HTTPS – a protocol which uses encryption to secure your connection to the website. Encrypting the connection prevents people on the same network from seeing activity such as entering a password or financial information. This happens per website and is particularly useful when using a public Wi-Fi network.

When you go to a website, you can confirm that the connection is encrypted by looking for a shield or lock icon in the top-left corner of your web browser, next to the web address. You can also check by looking at the web address:

  • is not secure.
  • is secure.

Many modern web browsers automatically switch you to secure connections, but it’s useful to check.