May 17, 2007

Tales from the TrueCrypt

I mentioned this once before in a previous post, and in that post I said I would be blogging about it a little more in depth. Well, here it is, I am blogging about it now, so you can let go of the horses your were holding.

In that previous post, I mentioned that I used TrueCrypt to create an encrypted volume on my USB drive, but it can and does go way beyond that. It can create a small volume with in an existing volume like I did with my USB thumb drive, but it can also encrypt the entire thumb drive! That's right, full thumb drive encryption! It can do the same on a regular hard drive as well.

TrueCrypt uses AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish encryption algorithms to secure your data, and it does it fast and on the fly so the whole process is transparent to you. Once you create your volume, you are set. You mount the encrypted volume using TrueCrypt and it shows up like a second hard drive under My Computer. Just drag and drop stuff in as usual. When you aren't using it, un-mount it and your data is as secure as fort Knox.

Another cool thing about this program is 'plausible deniability.' What is that you ask? Let me give you a for instance. Let's say you use this little work of art at work. You are storing your love letters from your girlfriend or boyfriend in there so nobody will laugh at you for calling him or her "Booboo schnoooky lumps." Anyways, your boss figures out that you have an encrypted volume on your computer and demands the password to decrypt it or lose your job. What do you do? Give your boss the password or lose your job? If you use TrueCrypt, you can give him the password, and I'll tell you why. You can create a hidden volume within an already created volume. You can place your sappy love notes in the hidden volume, and give the password to the outer shell to your boss. He opens it up, and see's that you are just hiding sensitive work data in there so prying eyes don't get a hold of it, but he won't see the hidden volume. Now you are a hero!

The last cool thing I will mention about this, is that you can create a volume on a network drive too, and you don't have to be an administrator of the file server to do it. The only problem with it is if you are not the administrator, you can only create FAT32 volumes on network drives (FAT32 have a 4GB file size max so no you can't store your pirated DVD's there).

The one major drawback to this program is that you have to be a local administrator in order to even run the program, this includes if you have installed it on your USB drive in traveler mode. If your company lets you be a local admin, then no biggy. If you are using it at home, chances are good that you are the local admin. If you are on a computer where you aren't a local admin, there are ways to give yourself those permissions.

So, if you are the type of person that stores all of your bank info, and passwords in you’re My Documents folder, then create a TrueCrypt Volume in there, and move that stuff to it. It might just save your life!

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