Got something to hide?

Almost everyone has data files that they don’t wish to share with the world and one way to more-or-less ensure this is to encrypt any sensitive files. Of course, those mythical back-room code-breakers, and their super-computers, can probably crack any file encryption scheme but, if all you are concerned about is some petty thief stealing your laptop, or someone finding the USB memory key that you dropped, almost any type of encryption will keep your data safe.

There are numerous file encryption utilities available, some of which feature quite sophisticated algorithms. My current favourite is TrueCrypt. Not only is this program open-source, it has the tremendous advantage (for my current situation) of coming in both Linux and Windows’ versions such that the same encrypted volume (a special file located on the data partition of my hard disk) can be used in either operating environment.

Anyway, let’s stick to the Linux world. First locate and download the Linux version of the software. Neither Ubuntu’s Software Centre nor Synaptic Package Manager will be of any assistance in this regard. Consequently, we need to go to TrueCrypt’s web site (http://www.truecrypt.org/downloads) and download the Linux version directly. The current release is Version 7.0a and will arrive as the file: truecrypt-7.0a-linux-x86.tar.gz (for a 32-bit machine).

Double clicking on this file launches Ubuntu’s archive manager where we can highlight the file and select Extract. Now, we have a file named: truecrypt-7.0a-setup-x86. As you might guess, we double click on this file, select Run, and launch the installation routine. Selecting Install TrueCrypt, and accepting the license terms, installs TrueCrypt.

The installer automatically creates a menu item under Applications – Accessories – TrueCrypt. However, my preference is to locate this program launch control under the “Other” menu item under the Applications tab.

Creating these custom menu entries is quite simple. Navigate to System – Preferences – Main Menu – Applications and uncheck the listing for TrueCrypt. This will prevent the TrueCrypt option from being displayed in the Applications menu. Now, navigate to the Other tab, and click on the button marked New Item. Enter TrueCrypt as the Name, truecrypt as the Command, and then press Close.

That’s it. We have installed TrueCrypt and created a custom program launcher with which to run it. Now, all that is required is to use TrueCrypt to create an encrypted volume and use this to store those sensitive files. Just don’t forget the password that you assign to this volume – or thieves won’t be the only ones unable to access your encrypted data!

References:

How To: TrueCrypt Setup On Ubuntu Linux
http://linuxandfriends.com/2010/02/03/how-to-truecrypt-setup-on-ubuntu-linux/

TrueCrypt
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/TrueCrypt

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