Encryption is one of those words that is guaranteed to conjure up a variety of mental pictures. Some will think of espionage and spies, of James Bond hacking into Dr. No's supercomputer, or the more prosaic work of the Enigma machine busters during World War Two.

What IT security professionals are particularly interested in, however, is the storage and transmission of critical information and its protection from unauthorized access and usage.

Conventional access control mechanisms provide some protection against unauthorized access. But once such measures are defeated, the data itself is typically open to inspection. This is particularly worrying with respect to the physical theft of mobile computing devices.

When contemplating deploying such a system, whether on a standalone computing device or across a network, one of the more important parameters to consider will be ease of use when the authorized user find themselves locked out of their own data.

Product: DESlock+ 
Vendor: Data Encryption Systems 
Verdict: An excellent introduction to data encryption for users at any level.
Website: www.deslock.com

Dekart Private Disk 
Vendor: Dekart 
Verdict: An interesting and capable product at an attractive price.
Website: www.dekart.com 

Product: SecureDoc 
Vendor: WinMagic 
Verdict: A comprehensive, solid toolset for enterprise-level data encryption.  
Website: www.winmagic.com