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Table Of Contents  CertiGuide to A+ (A+ 4 Real)
 9  Chapter 1: What are Operating Systems and How Do They Work?
      9  File Management

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Encryption?
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Third Party Tools
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EFS
(Page 1 of 2)

Via NTFS 5, Windows 2000 and XP both support EFS – “Encrypting File System”. EFS use PKI certificates14 to allow each user of a computer to encrypt their own files. Until unencrypted, no one else may view the contents of the file (with one exception, covered shortly). Using encryption provides a huge security advantage over just using NTFS permissions to secure files. As discussed previously, it is possible to bypass NTFS permissions both by using specialist tools, and by installing the hard drive with the target files into a different computer, and using a parallel installation of Windows to access them. When a file is encrypted, it remains encrypted. To use EFS, simply locate the file you wish to encrypt 15and right click it. In this example we will encrypt a confidential text file, shown in Figure 162.


Figure 162: Example of Encrypting a File

 


Select “Properties”, and click the “Advanced” button in the properties window that appears. The dialog in Figure 163 appears.


Figure 163: Encryption - Advanced Attributes

 


To encrypt the file, tick “Encrypt contents to secure data”, and click OK. You will be presented with the following warning.

Figure 164: Encryption Warning

 


The warning is self-explanatory, but very important. In this example, we only wish to encrypt a single file, so select “Encrypt the file only” and click OK. The file will be immediately encrypted and accessible only to the current user.

Locate the file in an Explorer window, and double click it. When the file opens, it will appear as though it was never encrypted.

Figure 165: Encrypted File Opens Normally

 


This demonstrates that EFS operates “on the fly”, decrypting and encrypting files as they are accessed.


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14. The specifics of PKI are outside the scope of the A+ objectives, and are covered in detail by your authors incovered in more detail in the CertiGuide to Security+.

15. The file must be located on an NTFS v5 drive

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