Disk Encryption Software
by Kyle Gulau
What is truecrypt?
TrueCrypt is a software system for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volume (data storage device). On-the-fly encryption means that data is automatically encrypted or decrypted right before it is loaded or saved, without any user intervention. No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password/keyfile(s) or correct encryption keys. Entire file system is encrypted (e.g., file names, folder names, contents of every file, free space, meta data, etc).
Files can be copied to and from a mounted TrueCrypt volume just like they are copied to/from any normal disk (for example, by simple drag-and-drop operations). Files are automatically being decrypted on the fly (in memory/RAM) while they are being read or copied from an encrypted TrueCrypt volume. Similarly, files that are being written or copied to the TrueCrypt volume are automatically being encrypted on the fly (right before they are written to the disk) in RAM. Note that this does not mean that the whole file that is to be encrypted/decrypted must be stored in RAM before it can be encrypted/decrypted. There are no extra memory (RAM) requirements for TrueCrypt. -- Source www.truecrypt.com
Why would I need truecrypt?
Truecrypt allows you to have a portion of your hard drive encrypted which would allow you to store highly sensitive data on your machine safely.
How do I use it?
Once the software is properly installed all you have to do is remember the password. Its just that simple. Encryption is a great tool that protects the security of your data. The program does all the work all you need to do is remember the password.
Most encryption disk software systems never save any decrypted data to a disk – it only stores them temporarily in RAM (memory). Even when the volume is mounted, data stored in the volume is still encrypted. When you restart Windows or turn off your computer, the volume will be dismounted and files stored in it will be inaccessible (and encrypted). Even when power supply is suddenly interrupted (without proper system shut down), files stored in the volume are inaccessible (and encrypted). To make them accessible again, you have to mount the volume (and provide the correct password and/or keyfile).
Are there other products like it?
Yes. Like most software packages there are alot of choices. A product called dekart is avaliavalble and provides similar functions as true crypt. While TrueCrypt is functional with both Windows and Mac, Dekart is only function with Windows operating systems.
Is it difficult to manage or operate?
Like anything new you may find it difficult, there is alot of great support on the true crypt site which allows you to easily set up a volume with little hassle and prior knowldge. There is also screen shots of the step by step instructions provided below.
Setting Up TrueCrypt for you Mac - (Special thanks to the OIT department at Western Michigan University for providing the images below.)
1. Once you have the software installed you can open it from your applications folder and run it. The following window will appear, choose "Create a Volume".
2. Choose "Create an encrypted file container" and click next.
3.Choose the "Standard TrueCrypt volume" radio button and click next.
4. Click "Select File" on the right.
5. Choose a name and file location where you want the file to be stored. DO NOT choose an existing folder this will delete the contents of that existing folder and replace it with the encrypted drive. When you have selected the location and named the drive click "save".
6. Once you have the Volume Location you desire click "next".
7. Choose an encryption Algorithm and Hash Algorithm. If you are unsure of what types to use accept the defaults. You can also click on the "more information" links which will provide more information about the different types. When you have made your decision. Click Next.
8. Choosing the volume size is important. It is also relative to how much data you wish to encrypt. The application is kind enough to tell you how much space you have available. Make your desicion based on your needs. When you have entered a number. Click next.
9. Choose your password. This password is very important. If you forget it you will be unable to access your data that you have put into the drive.
10. Choose Mac OS Extended in the Filesystem type category. click next.
11. This is where you choose if you will be mounting the drive on different operating systems, assuming you dont just use macintosh's you will want to choose the top radio button. click next.
12. Move the your mouse as randomly as possible within this window. The movement of the mouse helps determine the encryption key for the drive. The longer you move the mouse in the window the stronger the key will become. Once you are satisfied, click next.
13. The volume has successfully been created. Click exit and enjoy your encrypted drive.
about the author
More about Kyle Gulau:
Kyle Gulau enjoys computer programming as well as drumming and skiing. He is currently a student at Western Michigan University is active in the CIS program and FIN program.
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