It saddens me greatly to raise this alarm. Almost as much as it saddens me to be so late to this particular party. However, it seems that many unhappy Windows 11 users have been facing the “BitLocker ransom” issue for six months or more.
The problem is your Windows 11 A PC or laptop can turn BitLocker disk encryption and not tell you about it during a previous Windows Update process. Later, this invisible change rears its ugly head, when a subsequent (and in my case, optional) update includes a file that, perversely enough, is similar enough to other types of threats that your data is ” in danger “. The only way to protect it is to encrypt your machine’s boot volume and require a recovery key before you’re allowed back into it.
If you’re lucky, you have a way to access your Microsoft account without using the now completely dead bricked software. laptop, to get the recovery key. If you’re like me, my own policies, such as not traveling with more than one laptop and not logging into my Microsoft identity for extended periods of time, are likely to keep it out of reach.
As Microsoft says, these may not be the only reasons why you cannot recover the key. Perhaps most annoying is that if a different connection enabled BitLocker at the beginning – this is easy to do, given the few warnings or progress reports of the whole process – then it is likely that this either they receive the recovery key, not you. Not that you would know who to track in this scenario, because disclosing the name of the account containing the key would constitute a “security breach.”
There are fixes, but each of them is before it happens, not after. You can disable BitLocker, either through Control Panel or using PowerShell or Group Policies (even if you’re not in a corporate network).
I was amazed to discover how many fellow administrators were genuinely unsure of how their various assigned machines got to this point. Their bewilderment made me feel much better: as a group of seasoned system administrators, well accustomed to Microsoft’s behavior with system updates, they were shocked to find that some of their personal devices had moved to DEFCON 1, with BitLocker activated silently and without their consent – or so they thought, having not examined this part of the system carefully or often.
The reason to bring this phenomenon to your attention is, in fact, its long-term, slow-motion effect on car accidents. I’m not at all convinced that preventive group policies, disk formatting, or control panel pages will help. Microsoft has a long track record of not caring about dissidents; some settings come back, even if you decided you don’t want them.
Every Windows 11 user should take steps to prevent this particular bear trap from closing on their current work documents, emails, etc. Of course, if you’ve been a real expert and accepted all of Microsoft’s suggestions regarding online data sync services, and you have multiple machines fully licensed, synced and up to date, then your stuff should be accessible .
But when the Windows 11 machine I was reviewing displayed the BitLocker Recovery Key screen, I was far from my other machines. This is why I use laptops, I work while traveling. As a frequent traveler, I’ve developed a few strict rules that run rather counter to the assumptions presented by Microsoft as part of its apology package for BitLockering. The first is that I minimize logging into online accounts when I’m away from my home network, mainly to avoid the floods of paranoid warning messages that this causes. Another reason is that there is no online shopping while traveling, either on my own machine or on others that circumstances force me to use. I don’t even like the American habit of walking away with my credit cards and doing the contactless transaction themselves.
For the moment, I tell all my user contacts not to leave documents on Windows 11 devices of any kind. Last time I mentioned keeping scans of my vital ID documents on a USB stick hanging next to my house keys: this has been improved a bit as I find that my minimum set of files and mail electronics is currently a few gigabytes.
Long-term, I will not use Windows 11 at all until a satisfactory solution to this madness emerges. In fact, throughout the writing of this article, my oldest and most presentable laptop downloaded three full versions of Fedora Linux, one after the other. I guess each is about a DVD’s worth of code, but even my old machine is doing well so far. He will accompany me on my next trip in a few days; the Windows 11 machine will be at home, on the bench, waiting for a solution.