Secure your data!

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jeffrey
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Secure your data!

Post by jeffrey » Fri May 30, 2008 9:32 pm

Use TrueCrypt to encrypt the data on your USB storage device.
This guide will cover the steps taken to create a secure, encrypted container on your removable, USB storage device. The process here is tailored to the Microsoft Windows operating system. This software is available for Linux and Mac OSX. If you are using either of those you will need to refer to the documentation contained on the TrueCrypt homepage. However, many of the the processes here will still apply. Enjoy!

http://www.truecrypt.org/

1. Download TrueCrypt for your platform of choice

http://www.truecrypt.org/downloads.php

2. Double click the installation file to begin setup

The first screen will be a license agreement you must accept to continue. Read it if you like, I didn't. This program is 100% free and contains no adware or spyware. After agreeing to the license, it will ask you to install or extract. You will probably want to do both, more on this later but for now, choose Install and click Next.

The default installation path is C:\Program Files\TrueCrypt which can be changed to your liking. I used the default path.

On this screen there are some more options:
Install for all users - This will place shortcuts on the start menu for all users on your system.
Add TrueCrypt to the Start menu - This is up to you but realize it will nullify the previous option if not checked.
Add TrueCrypt icon to desktop - I did this and immediately moved the shortcut to my QuickLaunch, YMMV.
Associate the .tc file extension with TrueCrypt - I recommend this option. It makes it easier to open your encrypted volumes by simply double-clicking.
Create System Restore point - Certainly Windows specific, and I do not use it. TC is not going to break your system.

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Determine your appropriate options and click the Install button.

3. Complete Setup

Once installation is complete, you may be prompted to read the tutorial. This is advised although my thread here should get you up and running for the purposes of a secure portion of a USB stick.

Click Finish on the Installation log screen.

4. Run TrueCrypt and create a new volume

Double-click the desktop icon or click the shortcut on your start menu to run TrueCrypt. It will present a screen with a bunch of free drive letters and many options. Insert your removable drive into a USB slot. Next, click the button labeled Create Volume.

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You will now see the TrueCrypt Volume Creation Wizard. You can use this to create an encrypted container for your sensitive data. The first option is what we will use however note the other choices and their descriptions. This program is way more robust than our needs require it to be and you may find it useful for other tasks.

With the first option selected, click Next. The following dialog will let you choose from a standard or hidden volume. A hidden volume may be warranted if someone is holding a gun to your head asking for a password. This is unlikely, considering we are simply securing things like scanned copies of driver license and birth certificates. Choose the standard volume option and press Next.

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You will need to specify the location to place your secure container. This will look like a file with the .tc extension. My USB stick shows up as G: in Windows Explorer. You will need to check how yours is referenced. Next you need to decide on a file name. Personally I did two things here. First I created a new folder on my USB stick named Crypt. Then I used this dialog to specify a file name for my encrypted container based on what is inside. You may have more stuff than just personal documents such as field manuals, first aid guides, etc. Long story short, create a folder for your encrypted containers and pick an appropriate file name. Click Next.

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The following dialog will allow you to choose your desired encryption and hash algorithms. I could write a book about the possibilities but for simplicity and good security, choose AES and SHA-512 then click Next.

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You will then need to specify the size for your container. Realize that this is a fixed size. The container will not grow or shrink based on what is inside. A few images may only take a few megabytes. In the interest of scalability, I would go with a few hundred for each container you make. This will obviously depend on the total amount of space available on your USB stick. Enter your desired size and click Next.

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5. Set a password for your volume and shake your mouse a lot

Next, create a password that will protect your volume. This needs to be STRONG. It should consist of a mixture of numbers, symbols, lower and uppercase letters. It should be at a minimum, 12 characters long. TrueCrypt will recommend at least 20 characters. Remember, the space bar counts as a symbol so you can use an entire sentence if you like. Again, volumes can be written about password strength and if you need guidance, check Google or Wikipedia. Oh and, don't write it down or share it, this would defeat the whole process we are undertaking. Don't worry about the keyfiles option. Choose a good password, verify it, then smash the Next button.

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The following dialog is the most fun part. You get to randomly shake your mouse around thus increasing the cryptographic strength of your volume. Don't sit there all night but do move the mouse randomly for a minute or so. You can select the format and cluster size although the default settings will do just fine. When finished, depress the button labeled Format. Depending on the speed of your computer, this step may take a few moments to complete. Click Exit on the following dialog.

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6. Mount your TrueCrypt volume and fill it with porn, I mean, important information

If you look at your USB stick in Windows Explorer, you will find your newly created, encrypted volume.

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Double-click this file. When the TrueCrypt screen pops up, choose a free drive letter from the list (I picked Z) and click Mount. You will be prompted for your password. Enter it and click OK.

Your encrypted volume is now mounted as a new drive in Windows and ready to have information added to it. Treat it just like any drive. The stuff you copy to it will be contained and secured inside the .tc file in the location you have specified on your USB stick. When you're finished accessing the container, click Dismount.

7. Daily usage

Step six is the basic outline for how to use this volume when you need to read or modify the files within. In short, insert your USB stick, browse to the .tc file of your choice, double-click to open in TrueCrypt and mount the file as a drive letter. Dismount when finished.

Appendix A

Otay, otay, at this point you should be able to secure your data but you may still be wondering about the install versus extract thing from step one. The installation file you downloaded will allow you to install TrueCrypt on the computer. This is what we did so far. The other option will allow you to run TrueCrypt from your memory stick directly.

First, double click the setup file as previously described. Agree to the license terms and then select the Extract option instead of Install. It will then ask where to extract and you will want to type in or browse to your memory stick. To keep things clean, specify a new folder name and click Extract. This will install a standalone version of TrueCrypt onto your USB stick and prevent you from needing to install it on the PC you are using.

You will need to run TrueCrypt from the memory stick first and then double click your .tc file as usual.

In summary, putting scans of your personal stuff on a portable device is a great way to keep it with you at all times. Of course, if you lose it your information could be compromised. Employing strong encryption will ensure your data will not be read by unauthorized persons. Realize that TrueCrypt is not the only software tool for achieving this goal but after trying many, it is my choice.
Last edited by jeffrey on Sun Jun 01, 2008 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by jeffrey » Fri May 30, 2008 9:33 pm

Reserved for updates.

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by gart43 » Fri May 30, 2008 10:03 pm

I downloaded this a while ago, and can personally say, GET IT FOR YOURSELF!!

Especially if you have data that is essential to your day to day undertakings or whatever.

Thanks for the write up jefferey :D .
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by andygates » Sat May 31, 2008 5:58 am

Your howto's nicer than mine. You got screenshots; now I have howto envy. ;)
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by That German Guy » Sat May 31, 2008 6:20 am

Ah, TrueCrypt... nice software.

You should really really remember your password though. I learned this the semi-hard way :(
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by Pondo_Sinatra » Sat May 31, 2008 6:50 am

At home I use DriveCrypt, but I also run TrueCrypt on my flash drives. Both programs work well, but TC IS free to use.

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by jeffrey » Sat May 31, 2008 8:05 am

andygates wrote:Your howto's nicer than mine. You got screenshots; now I have howto envy. ;)
I didn't see yours or any others. I certainly didn't intend to 1-up anyone. I needed to write this for several people beyond this forum so I figured it would be useful to post here as well.

PS - neener neener neener! :lol:

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by andygates » Sat May 31, 2008 10:11 am

jeffrey wrote:I didn't see yours or any others. I certainly didn't intend to 1-up anyone. I needed to write this for several people beyond this forum so I figured it would be useful to post here as well.

PS - neener neener neener! :lol:
:P well mine either disappeared or I clicked the "dumbass" button at some point. And I get paid for this IT stuff. Heh.

Hidden encrypted volumes: I have to say, I really like the idea. The more I see of our government's inability to handle private data and the private sector's eagerness to trade it around as a commodity, the less I want my personal stuff getting into anybody's hands but my own. Data tends to spread as sure as water finds its level.

If you run a hidden volume, it's undetectable as it is within the encrypted main volume. The files and empty space are all encrypted as the same high-entropy monolithic block. When you go to mount the volume you can either enter your regular password or your hidden volume's password, and Truecrypt will mount the appropriate volume.
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by Murph » Sat May 31, 2008 1:45 pm

Excellent post! Very motivating! :D
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by landline000 » Sat May 31, 2008 10:47 pm

Thanks for the post and the screenshots!

I, for one, look forward to seeing plausible deniability encryption implemented for all OS versions of TC.
(http://www.truecrypt.org/future.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;).

I forget if this works for Windows TC, but on Linux I'm able to create an encrypted volume 'from' any filetype. For example, a blank *.txt file can become a TC volume, and it can be renamed to *.dll or whatever other extension you wish. Perhaps it's unnecessary with the 'hidden volume' option, but not needing the *.tc file extension is nice.
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by Gunny » Sun Jun 01, 2008 7:45 pm

Hey Jeffery:

Mind if I use this article for a ZSS feed article?

Pm me if you don't and you'll get to have a neat little calorie free ZSS Feed author banner in your sig line.

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by Braums » Sun Jun 01, 2008 8:47 pm

I've used this to protect client data on my flash drives and I really like it. On the Windows version, you can change the file type for your tc volume. Also, you can do up to a 64 bit key which works (proof of concept). I recommend this for your flash/internal/and external drives.

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by jeffrey » Sun Jun 01, 2008 9:17 pm

Sure Gunny, I sent a PM as well. I fixed the Wikipedia link to the password strength article. Forgot a slash the first time around. It should be fully proofread.

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by LittleTeapot » Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:41 am

Very nice post.

Thank you for sharing!
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by kir » Tue Jun 03, 2008 11:54 am

TrueCrypt is software that we use on a daily basis in my work place and for our clients. We've put it through the ringer and back again and it has Windows, OS X and Linux variants. Our clients use it when traveling all over the world. You could do far worse when selecting encryption software.

Do be aware that the non-Windows versions have a few limitations that I expect will be fixed in coming patches.
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by Flying Lead » Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:33 pm

What can you use to create a file in your hard drive and put encrypted info in there?
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by jeffrey » Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:57 pm

Flying Lead wrote:What can you use to create a file in your hard drive and put encrypted info in there?
You can you this same process. During step 4, just point it to a location on the hard disk instead of the memory stick. So C:\ instead of G:\.

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by crypto » Wed Jun 04, 2008 11:26 am

Or, you can alternatively use truecrypt on windows to encrypt an entire disk volume.
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by Gunny » Mon Jun 23, 2008 2:04 am

Look for this article to hit the ZSS Feed within the next few updates.

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by jbecker » Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:55 pm

Thanks for the info. TAG!

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by derajer » Thu Aug 21, 2008 3:04 pm

[propeller head]

I think it is worth noting that the "hidden" volume function of TC is critically broken by Windows/Linux/MacOS due to all of the debris they create when you access the volume, so be aware that if you wish to use a hidden volume for plausible deniability that it will be discovered. There is, however, the issue of your 5th amendment rights being used to protect your password since it only exists in your head.

If you definitely want to have a completely plausibly deniable volume, encrypt the entire drive and setup a hidden OS that is completely unknown to the primary OS.

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by MikeCharlieUniform » Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:53 pm

I highly recommend using TrueCrypt. I have a USB key with an encrypted file that I store all kinds of important documents on, and carry with me always. I'm also following the excellent advice found at Listening to Katrina ( http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/blogs ... howto.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ) about how to set up a data store. I'm still pulling together all the data, but I've got a 1TB removable hard drive that is an encrypted TrueCrypt device, along with a waterproof case.

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The only drawback is that you have to have root access (er, "Administrator") to load the TrueCrypt driver. Not a problem on a computer you own, but perhaps a problem if your laptop dies and you want to access the data. On my 8GB USB thumb drive, I've also got it set up to boot into Linux and I've got the Linux source code for TrueCrypt on there. I haven't yet verified that I can mount encrypted files or the USB hard drive in Linux, but hopefully I'll be able to test that soon. If it works, as long as I've got my key (and a computer that can boot off of a USB device) or my laptop, I can access the drive.

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Re: Secure your data!

Post by SamuraiBobX26 » Sun Aug 24, 2008 8:00 am

This is a great write up. I have been meaning to encrypt several documents on my computers so that the misses can't access them :twisted:
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Re: Secure your data!

Post by Roknrandy » Sun Aug 24, 2008 8:42 am

I've been using for a while now and it's great software. On portable media its great because the reader program is already installed you just type in your password and mount the volume.
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