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Stanford Whole Disk Encryption (SWDE) Project

Thursday, January 1, 2015

We begin 2015 with a challenge that will involve much of the Stanford community. Our shared goal is to protect your personal information and Stanford's data by verifiably encrypting all desktop and laptop computers used by faculty, staff, and post-docs on the campus network by May 31, 2015 (other than those granted exceptions due to special research requirements). Nearly 19,000 employee desktops and laptops have already been encrypted, but we are not on pace to meet the May deadline. Beginning this month, IT departments throughout the University will use newly developed tools to accelerate the encryption effort.

For our clients, you should expect to be notified in advance by your IT team that your computer(s) will be encrypted. An application will later appear on your screen that steps you through the process when it is convenient for you. If you encounter a problem, contact your local IT support.

For our partners in IT, we will provide instructions for distributing the Stanford Whole Disk Encryption (SWDE) installer via BigFix to those machines that are native encryption capable and for which we have user information from the Device Identification application. We recommend encrypting Mac OS X machines first, then Windows machines next. We also strongly suggest that computers be backed up prior to encryption to prevent data loss in the rare event that a disk failure occurs. The University's CrashPlan PROe service is the recommended solution for those departments that do not yet have a formal backup solution available.

Computers that handle Prohibited or Restricted data must use SWDE. For all others, SWDE is recommended, but there is an option granted on an exception basis to instead install a read-only application called "VLRE" that periodically reports on the computer's encryption status, leaving maintenance of the computer entirely to the user. VLRE is actively being developed and will be available in March 2015.

We deeply appreciate your help in meeting this encryption challenge. Working together, we will safeguard your personal privacy and protect Stanford's valuable information assets.

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