Remember to Encrypt

July 28, 2006

Do you have any of those external USB drives? Do you store sensitive information on those drives? What if they got into the wrong hands? Scary thought, eh? What’s the solution? ENCRYPT.

Here are some steps I recommend BEFORE using those external drives.

  1. Reformat (optionally partition)
  2. Encrypt

Partition and Reformat

A lot of external USB drives come formatted in FAT32, however this has some file size limitations and not the best solution if you deal with large files like raw AVI video files or WAV files. Personally, I feel safer using the NTFS file format.
I recommend repartitioning the drive into 2 partitions. The first one being a very small unencrypted partition, and the other being your massively huge encrypted partition to store your backup data.

  • Use the “Computer Management” application built into Windows XP as specified by Western Digital Support
  • Use GParted LiveCD to repartition
  • Or the simplest and easiest would be to use PartitionMagic (NOTE, this method did not work for me on the WD My Book Drive).

Using one of the above methods, create 2 NTFS partitions. In my case, I created a 150MB one and used the remaining space for the other one. Allocate roughly 30 Minutes for a small flash USB drive or 2 hours for a large external USB drive (500 GB).

Encrypt

This is the most important step and one I deem VERY NECESSARY due to the mobile nature of external USB drives. One of my favorite applications to use for encryption is something called TrueCrypt.

TrueCrypt has tons of options ranging from “Traveller Disk Mode” to “Hidden Partitions”. Read the manual or listen to a Security Now! podcast outlining some of the options.

This is quite a time consuming process, and can range anywhere from 15 mins (15 mins for a small USB Flash Drive) to 15 Hours for a large external USB Drive to encrypt.
[tags]security,ecryption,truecrypt,usb,reformat[/tags]

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