You regularly carry sensitive data with you that you don’t want to see in the wrong hands. Those of your Smartphone are easily protected, by authentication and by the encryption that must be activated. But do you think about protecting your USB keys or disks when they contain sensitive data such as family photos, vacation videos, administrative documents,…?
If this is not the case, it is not too late and I suggest you discover how to encrypt data on a USB key or disk with VeraCrypt.
We all have a multitude of USB keys or disks to back up our data or store documents in order to transport them. But are we really taking all the usual precautions to protect them?
Whenever you take data out of your work or home you are taking a risk. The risk of having your USB key stolen, but also quite simply the risk of losing your media.
However, there is a very simple solution: Encryption of your data (because we don’t say Encryption …)
It is possible to encrypt the data of a USB medium so that it is impossible to access it without having the associated password. The fiber optic provider who had the plans for the Elysee Palace stolen in 2012 might have thought about it above all like Marlène Schiappa in June 2021.
Let’s find out in detail how to do this. For this, I will use VeraCrypt, a brilliant little Open Source program which better takes the famous TrueCrypt project stopped in 2014.
Extract VeraCrypt on the USB medium to be protected.
First, download VeraCrypt from the official site.
You are not going to install VeraCrypt on your computer. You will only extract the “Portable” version of VeraCrypt to the USB medium to be encrypted.
The advantage is not to depend on your computer and to be able to access the contents of your USB device from anywhere.
Small subtlety, to access the portable version you must nevertheless start the installer of VeraCrypt.
Select Extract and click on Next
Click on okay
Click on Yes
Select the root of your USB drive. Note that it may already contain data, but not all of the occupied area will be able to be allocated to the encryption container which comes in the form of a single file subsequently mounted as a full logical volume. Then click on Extract
Click on okay
Click on Finish VeraCrypt binaries are now on your key, we can move on to the next step.
Create the encrypted storage space on the USB key
The principle of encryption with VeraCrypt is to reserve an area, a container, on the storage medium where you want to encrypt data. This zone will be seen physically on the key as a simple file of a size corresponding to the encrypted space defined.
The person who steals your key will therefore only see the VeraCrypt binaries as well as a large file that cannot be accessed without an encryption key.
Access your USB key and launch the program VeraCrypt Format.exe
Select Create an encrypted file container and click on Next.
Select Standard TrueCrypt Volume and click on Next.
Click on Select File. This is to define the name of the file that will contain your encrypted data as well as its location. My encrypted file will be called in this example MyPersonnalDataFolder. Click on Next.
Here we select the encryption algorithm and the hash method. Click on Next
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Now define the size of the encrypted area on your USB device. I chose in this example to allocate 10GB of encrypted space to my USB device. I can therefore very well use the rest of my key for uses that do not require encryption. Click on Next.
Set a strong password, using a password generator if you were worried about being too simplistic. The only way to access your data is through this password, so it must be long and complex enough to withstand all attacks (dictionaries or brute force). Then click on Next.
Decide here whether you want to store files larger than 4GB or not. If you have any doubts select Yes which will define a formatting in NTFS. In my case I chose No I will therefore have a FAT type formatting. Click on Next.
In the next window you have to move your mouse until the lower bar is green. Your many random movements allow you to build a unique encryption key.
Click on Format to generate the encrypted zone.
Click on okay
Click on Exit
I see that my file MyPersonnalDataFolder of 10GB is present in my USB key!
How to encrypt your files or how to access your encrypted files?
To open the encrypted zone, provided with your password, you must launch the executable VeraCrypt.exe located at the root of your USB drive.
Select the file corresponding to the encrypted storage area on your USB device: MyPersonnalDataFolder in my example.
Also select the letter of your choice on which you want to mount your encrypted zone.
Click on Mount to edit your encrypted space. Note that it is possible to do automatic mounting to make the use of VeraCrypt easier when you are on your machine.
Enter your password and click okay. You can also check the box Cache passwords and keyfiles in memory to avoid leaving traces in memory. Some hackers could recover a memory dump to discover your password … it gets complex but it costs you nothing to do it.
By going to Windows Explorer you can see that your encrypted drive is correctly mounted. As you will have understood, all you have to do is slip in your sensitive documents, that’s all!
When you have finished removing your USB drive cleanly, by clicking on Dismount from the VeraCrypt interface.
Your files are then well protected by being encapsulated in an encrypted file on your USB device!
If you misplace your USB device, you don’t have to worry anymore, your data is inaccessible.
This one-of-a-kind article was first published on [syskb.com]
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