Flash Drive Encryption

Flash drives have evolved into a very handy utility. With the help of a flash drive you can store your necessary files and documents and always carry them along. Today, USB flash drives are commonly available in sizes of 1 GB, 2 GB, 4 GB or even more. Apart from documents and files, you can also store operating systems like Linux or many other software applications. Many people tend to store their private and confidential data on flash drives. Although the portability of flash drive allows you to carry this secure information with you all the time, it also increases the risk of losing your flash drive. People keep losing their flash drives all the time and if the sensitive information falls into wrong hands, then it might cost you more than you can imagine. A good solution to this problem would be encrypting the data on USB flash drive. Given below are some ways of USB flash drive encryption.

Flash Drive Encryption Using TrueCrypt

Using TrueCrpyt you can create a password protected 'container' file which stores and encrypts your sensitive files. When the flash drive is connected to the PC, this container file gets mounted as a separate hard drive and automatically encrypts anything you store in it. Follow the steps given below to encrypt your flash drive.
  • Download the latest version of TrueCrypt and install the software on your PC.
  • Connect the USB drive to the PC and let us assume its assigned drive is F:\
  • Run the TrueCrypt application and start TrueCrypt Volume Creation Wizard by clicking on Create Volume button.
  • Select a 'create a file container' option and click next which brings you to the Volume Type window, where you can give your specifications for container file. If you are not sure about other options, select default option which is Standard TrueCrypt Volume.
  • Click next to open Volume Location window, where you can provide the address for the container file. Specify your location as F:\MyCrypt, to place the container at the root of the flash drive. Click next.
  • Select the encryption algorithm from the options available. Select default if you do not have particular preferences.
  • Next select the size of the container file. Ideally you should leave 10 to 20% of your flash drive capacity unencrypted, so that you can store unimportant, sharable file outside the container.
  • Next provide a password for mounting the container on the hard drive. Make sure your password is strong and uncrackable.
  • Next, format the container by selecting the default options.
  • Once, the format completes successfully, click 'ok' on the pop up window and close the TrueCrypt application.
  • Go to My Computer and navigate to the TrueCrypt directory to C:\Program Files\TrueCrypt directory and copy it to the root of your flash drive.
  • Create a file on notepad named 'autorun.inf' and type the following:
    action=Mount TrueCrypt volume
    open=TrueCrypt\TrueCrypt.exe /q background /e /m rm /v "MyCrypt"
    shell\start=Start TrueCrypt
    shell\dismount=Dismount all TrueCrypt volumes
    shell\dismount\command=TrueCrypt\TrueCrypt.exe /q /d
    The purpose of creating this file is to prompt you to mount the container file, every time you connect to the PC.
  • Save this file to the root of your flash drive.
  • Now when you connect the flash drive to PC, you will be prompted for password to the container file. When you provide correct details, the container will automatically get mounted to the next drive which is G:\ in this case.
  • Save the files you need to encrypt in this drive.
Flash Drive Encryption: Simple Technique

This method allows you to encrypt the files which can be viewed on your PC only. The information can be accessed from your machine only. If you leave a free space of 10 to 20%, you will be able to save sharable files, which can be viewed on other machine.
  • Format your USB flash drive in NTFS format.
  • Go to My Computer and right click the USB flash drive. Choose new folder option to create one.
  • Right click the new folder and go to its properties.
  • Click 'advanced' button in the attributes section.
  • Check the box which says 'Encrypt contents to secure data' box. Click OK and close out the dialog boxes.
  • The newly created folder appears green which means you can safely store and encrypt your sensitive data.
The above methods of flash drive encryption allow you to securely store and carry your data. Even if you lose your flash drive, you can be assured that your contents cannot be decrypted.

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