How to protect your personal and sensitive data on shared computers

Many of us store our personal data on computers that are shared with our colleagues or family members. This data can contain passwords of your bank account, personal mailboxes or even some files carrying confidential information and it can be accessible to others directly or through the network shares. It is impossible to always carry this information in USB flash drive as losing the flash drive means the data is accessible to anybody.

A software called Truecrypt can be our savior. Truecrypt can not only encrypt your entire hard drive or a partition, but also can create an encrypted file which can be mounted as a separate drive with a password protection. So if your personal data is only in few megabytes, you can create a small file, encrypt it and take it anywhere along with installer of Truecrypt. You can mount it on any computer, make and save changes and still remain secured. Here is how to start using the Truecrypt.

Download the Truecrypt installer from one of the following locations.

http://www.truecrypt.org/downloads

• Once downloaded, install the software by choosing appropriate folder.

• Next assess the size of the data you want to secure and create a encrypted file container as described in following steps.

o Go to the folder where you installed the Truecrypt and double click on “Truecrypt Format.exe”. It will open a volume creation wizard. Select “Create an encrypted file container”. Click “next”.

Truecrypt Volume creation wizard

Truecrypt Volume creation wizard

 

o Select “Standard Truecrypt volume” and click next.

o Select the name of the file you want to create as a container of data. In following screenshot, considering that the U drive is my USB flash disk, I’m creating a file named u:\encrypteddata.dat. Click next.

 

Truecrypt Volume creation wizard

Truecrypt Volume creation wizard

 

o Select the encryption algorithm as “AES” and click next.

 

Truecrypt Volume creation wizard

Truecrypt Volume creation wizard

 

o Now enter the size of the container you need, I have selected “500MB” for this demo. Enter the value and click next.

 

Truecrypt Volume creation wizard

Truecrypt Volume creation wizard

 

o Enter the password for this encrypted container. Do ensure to keep the password as easy as possible to remember and also as difficult as possible for others to guess. I will post an article for how to create a best password. Click next.

o Once you arrive at the “Volume Format” window, move the mouse pointer as much as possible. This creates a random encryption key which will be used to encrypt the volume. After moving the mouse for 10 seconds or so, click on “format”. It will take a while to format the volume depending on the size you have entered. Once done, click “OK” and “Exit” to come out of volume creation wizard.

 

Truecrypt Volume creation wizard

Truecrypt Volume creation wizard

• Next, we have to mount this volume and copy the data we wish to protect.

o Go to truecrypt installation folder and double click on “truecrypt.exe”.

o From the top pane, select the drive letter you want to assign to this volume when mounted.

Truecrypt Volume mounting wizard

Truecrypt Volume mounting wizard

 

o Select the file we just created as a volume and click on mount.

o Enter the password and click ok. Do not save the password or enable display password option.

 

Truecrypt Volume mounting wizard

Truecrypt Volume mounting wizard

 

o This will mount your encrypted container as a new drive (Drive R in following screenshot). Copy all your personal / important / confidential data in this new drive. o Once Finished with your work, click on “Dismount all” and safely remove your USB flash drive. Click here to see how to safely remove the USB flash drives.

 

Truecrypt Volume mounting wizard

Truecrypt Volume mounting wizard

 

• Most importantly, remember to always carry the Truecrypt installer in the USB flash drive.

 

 

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