Encrypt Your Important Data With TrueCrypt
If you have concerns over the privacy of your data, particularly if using USB devices or other portable drives you may want to consider encryption software. If you do not have any concerns I would urge you to read this article “Managing USB Memory Sticks“.
There are a number of tools available to do the job but a great tool that I use is TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt describes itself as “Free open-source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux” and offers on the fly encryption and decryption of your important data. With over 7 million downloads reported on the TrueCrypt web site it is clearly a popular package and is regularly updated with new features and performance enhancements – the current version is 6.1
Creating a basic encrypted volume takes only moments, simply click on Volumes, Create New Volume and a Wizard will appear, click Create an encrypted file container then click Next and select a Standard TrueCrypt volume and click Next again.
Enter the volume location (where you want the file put and what you want to call it) in the next screen that comes up and click Next, click Next through the Encryption Options screen and select a reasonable size for your volume, click Next again and give the volume a password, click Next then click Format then Exit and your volume is ready.
To Mount the Volume click Select File on the main screen and locate the volume, tell it which drive to mount over and click the Mount button. The drive should be available in Explorer shortly afterwards. To dismount the volume simply click Dismount.
Once you become comfortable with the mechanics of volume management you can start experimenting with all the additional features on offer. Some of the features that I like about TrueCrypt include:
- The ability to create an encrypted volume as a file
- Very strong encryption algorithms including AES and Twofish which we recently wrote about (What is Block Cipher ?)
- Small footprint application so it can be stored on a memory stick if required (there are some things to bear in mind with this so read the documentation)
- Mounted TrueCrypt volumes behave like normal drives
Because decrypted data is stored in RAM it is especially important to correctly dismount the volume prior to removing the drive – this ensures that any data in the cache is correctly written.
TrueCrypt can be found at www.truecrypt.org
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