Let's Talk TrueCrypt - Part 1

Let's talk about TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt is open-source freeware available for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.  For Windows, TrueCrypt supports Windows 7, Vista and XP.  There's no reason for you to not have already and downloaded this program.

TrueCrypt recently made headlines when the FBI failed to decrypt the hard drives of a Brazillian banker accused of financial crimes.

Yes, it is that good, and yes, it is free.  Before we continue, however, let's get the moral dilemmas out of the way.

The paladins out there will be asking this:  if I have nothing to hide, then why do I need encryption?

That's what I call guilty thinking.  You need to realize that TrueCrypt, and other like software, isn't about hiding anything - it's about protecting what's yours.  Recently our gubbmint has been attempting to soften privacy and encryption laws.  Big Brother wants to know everything your doing because, Mr. Paladin, if you're doing it, then you must be guilty because you're doing it.  Leastwise, that's how I think they think based on all the stuff I'm seeing.

Regardless, you have the right to protect what's yours, to safeguard it from prying eyes, to minimize exposure risks.  For example:

  • A programmer wants to protect is source code base
  • Financial records on your hard drive
  • Copies of your medical records
  • Legal records and adjudications
  • Your photographs

And so on.  Most people, when they upgrade their computers, they don't think about erasing the hard drives, (and by erasing, I don't mean deleting files -- deleting files does not equal erasing files), and protecting the data that's been painstakingly stored over years.  Encrypting files means that even if you don't delete the files, if someone recovers your hard drive, all they'll see is random data.  To them, the drive already looks "wiped" and there's no reason to suspect that anything may be stored on the platters.  So, you're already one step ahead of the game just by using TrueCrypt in this scenario.

TrueCrypt provides you with the following feature functionality:

  • Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk
  • Encrypted an entire partition or storage device (USB, hard drive, etc.)
  • Encrypts a partition or drive where Windows is installed (pre-boot authentication)
  • Encryption is automatic, real-time and transparent to the user
  • Plausible Deniability with hidden volumes and hidden operating systems

To-date, TrueCrype has had over 16 million downloads, and they serve about 11,000 downloads per day.  With these types of numbers, for opensource software, you have to feel comfortable knowing you're getting a quality product.

So, without further fuss, go download your copy of TrueCrypt now and install it.  All the instructions are on the website - it's very easy to install.  If you're uncomfortable with that, in the next installment tomorrow, I'll walk you through the process and we'll begin using the software.

Thanks for reading...