Encryption Information

ITS offers computer encryption service for UC managed desktops and laptops (Windows and Mac). The Computer Encryption page describes what the service includes and how to get it.

For Academic Divisional Computing encryption services, contact divisional representatives listed here:  https://www.adc.ucsc.edu/

For non-UC managed and personally owned computers, ITS has identified some limited options for individuals who need to encrypt data.  These primarily make use of native encryption features in Mac and PC operating systems. 

Some CAUTIONS before embarking on self-managed encryption:


The weakest link in encryption is often the password. Be sure to use a complex password that is difficult to guess, but easy to remember so you don't have to write it down. If you do write your password down, be sure you store it securely where others would never find it. See UCSC’s Password Standards for more information about creating good, secure passwords.

Please Note: Although this web page identifies some available encryption tools, ITS does not endorse or recommend any specific product.



Tool What it does Web sites for more information  
Microsoft Office (Windows)
Microsoft Office 2003 and later Encrypts and password protects MS Office files Refer to "Help" in MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. Available on Microsoft Office 2003 and later (PC only)

Microsoft Office (Mac OS 10.5.8 or later)

Microsoft Powerpoint 2011 Encrypts and password protects Powerpoint files Microsoft's Website

Versions of Microsoft Office for Mac prior to Office 2016 allows encryption for Powerpoint presentations only.  Excel spreadsheets and Word docs can be password protected but not encrypted.  Microsoft Office 2016 does allow for encryption of Excel spreadsheets as well.

Adobe Acrobat (Multiple Platforms) Adobe Acrobat Pro X and higher Password protect and encrypt PDF documents

Acrobat Pro XI

Acrobat DC

Encrypt and password protect PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Pro's "Encrypt with Password" option. IMPORTANT: You must select "Acrobat X and later" in the Password Security Settings box that comes up when selecting this option. Earlier versions do not provide adequate protection.
Windows 8 BitLocker Whole disk encryption

Microsoft's web site

Encrypts data on a hard drive and portable drives. Only available in Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 Enterprise editions.
Windows 7 and Vista BitLocker Whole disk encryption

Microsoft's web site

Video instructions

Encrypts data on a hard drive and portable drives. Must be activated by someone with administrator privileges in order to be used.
Mac OS 10.7 and up
FileVault 2 Encrypts entire hard drive Apple's web site Update of FileVault (see below) that allows encryption of the entire hard drive. Allows migration and use of home directories encrypted with earlier versions of FileVault; however, you will not be able to turn on FileVault 2 at the same time.
Encrypted disk image Volume/folder encryption

Apple's web site

Uses the "Disk Utility" application. An encrypted disk image acts like a password-protected folder. You have to close the disk image each time you are done using its contents or the files will effectively remain unencrypted. Note: Disk images are a fixed size, so you have to know how big you want it when it is created.
Android Encrypt all data on phone Instructions Requires setting a screen lock PIN/password and is irreversible.

USB flash drives (data sticks)


(see below for Windows-only encrypted data sticks)




Partition or entire device encryption




IronKey: Encrypted memory sticks that can be used with computers running Windows, Mac and Linux. Prices start at $89 for a 2 gb memory stick.

Corsair Flash Padlock®: Encrypted memory sticks that include a PIN pad on the data stick. Can be used with Windows, Mac and Linux. Prices start at $35 for an 8 gb memory stick.

Aegis Secure Key: Similar to Corsair, above. Prices start at $65 for 4 gb.

USB flash drives (data sticks)


BitLocker To Go - Windows 7, 8 and 8.1, and 10  Partition or entire device encryption

BitLocker To Go

BitLocker To Go requires Windows 7 Ultimate or Enterprise editions, Windows 8/8.1 Pro or Enterprise editions, or Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education editions.

Secure email Send sensitive information securely

Please contact the ITS Support Center for options and assistance with sending sensitive information securely.

Rev. March 2017