TrueCrypt: Protecting Data The Free Way

Alright, this time around, we gonna look into IT security in terms of protecting your personal data. Let’s get to some basics and think, in the analog world that you are living now, what would be the best method to protect your private stuff? Let’s take paper as example. You have a paper that written all your bank accounts and it’s ATM card PIN. You scare you will forget your PIN, so you write them down and keep it somewhere safe. You will probably hide it in your deepest closet, or maybe up to the extent of tearing the paper into two and keep half in the closet and half at the kitchen, just for better security. This is the FREE way of securing your personal stuff because if you are willing to pay, you will have a safe by then.

Ok, you had done a great job. That is how you do it in your analog world, the FREE way. Now, what about your digital world? The data in your computer can be private and personal too. So what would you do now? Alright, similar example, you want to store your email accounts and its password in a piece of text document. Follow the analog way, you will change it’s extension file to perhaps ‘.avi’ and hide it deep deep inside your System Root folder so that people would not find them. You better hope you don’t forget where you put them, because only you will know in the future. What if you have 20 text files to keep now? Are you going to…….c’mon. You are not going to do that. Certain smarter people will use Winrar with password to keep their private data. But do need to consider, if it is like 2GB, you are going to waste your time extracting the files each and every time.

To those who have not heard before, I would like to introduce you all, the free way of protecting your data which is the open-source software called, TrueCrypt. How does it protect your data? TrueCrypt is a software that creates an encrypted virtual drive into your Operating System. I’m serious, an encrypted virtual drive. What you need to do is to use their wizard guide to create a file which you can then mount the file into a virtual drive. After that, you store whatever private data regardless of the size, and then unmount the virtual drive. You can choose to use password or key files to protect your encrypted drive or even both! Some call it two factor authentication. In addition to that, TrueCrypt has 11 types of algorithm to protect your data where eight of them are encryption algorithms and the remaining three are hash algorithms.

If you feel, it is not secure enough, it has this feature called Hidden Drive. This  hidden drive is also mounted inside the same encrypted drive. The difference here is, both are accessible with different passwords. For instance, you use ‘12345678’ for your non-hidden drive and ‘abcdefgh’ for your hidden drive. So, when you mount your drive that time, it will ask for password. Using ‘12345678’ will only show you all the non-hidden drive data while on the other side, if you use ‘abcdefgh’, you will only see the hidden drive. Why the trouble? Well, in this situation, it can be very useful. Imagine you store some important data inside your TrueCrypt drive and one day, some bad guy forced you to mount your encrypted drive. You can use ‘12345678’ as password to mount and show them all your less important data while you keep all the important data inside the hidden drive. With this, the bad guy might just escape with the less important data.

The key features of this software is as below and you can get it downloaded at here. You can also continue on how to use this software on the next post.

  • Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk.
  • Encrypts an entire partition or storage device such as USB flash drive or hard drive.
  • Encrypts a partition or drive where Windows is installed (pre-boot authentication).
  • Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent.
  • Parallelization and pipelining allow data to be read and written as fast as if the drive was not encrypted.
  • Encryption can be hardware-accelerated on modern processors.
  • Provides plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password:
  • Hidden volume (steganography) and hidden operating system.

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About Alan Tay

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