What is the Encrypted File System?


Dear techs, would anyone be helpful to give me an explanation on the Encrypted File System.


This question was answered on March 21, 2004. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

EFS (or Encrypted File System) is a new feature in Windows 2000 that protects sensitive data in files that are stored on disk using the NTFS file system Even individuals who steal a hard disk or computer can’t access encrypted data on W2K’s NTFS volume It uses public and private key encryption and the CryptoAPI architecture to provide confidentiality for files It runs as an integrated system service, which makes EFS easy to manage, difficult to attack, and transparent to the file owner and to applications

EFS has several advantages over traditional encryption techniques EFS’s encryption technology integrates into the file system, so users can’t access the hard disk without going through the file system W2K’s EFS drivers run in kernel mode to provide better security EFS is easy to manage and completely transparent to the user A user can use a private key, which the OS generates, to encrypt only those files or folders that need protection Users can then access their data transparently Users who don’t have the private key can’t access the data.

No preparation is needed to encrypt files and the first time a user encrypts a file an encryption certificate for the user and a private key are automatically created.

If encrypted files are moved they stay encrypted, if users add files to an encrypted folder the new files are automatically encrypted There is no need to decrypt a file before use; the operating system automatically handles this for you in a secure manner.

In the event of a user’s private key being lost (either by reinstallation or new user creation) the EFS recovery agent can decrypt the files.

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Posted by Student of Katharine Gibbs School - New York on March 21, 2004