BitLocker Drive Encryption is a new security feature in Windows Vista, designed to work with the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). Basically, it encrypts the C drive with a computer generated key. In its basic mode, an attacker can still access the data on the drive by guessing the user's password, but would not be able to get at the drive by booting the disk up using another operating system, or removing the drive and attaching it to another computer.
There are several modes for BitLocker. In the simplest mode, the TPM stores the key and the whole thing happens completely invisibly. The user does nothing differently, and notices nothing different. Schneier on Security: Microsoft's BitLocker
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