We’ve talked about the importance of encrypting your cell phone here on Lone Iguana before, but if you haven’t already done so, it’s also important to use some level of encryption for your personal computer. For example, a simple laptop theft can be turned into something much more devastating if the thief has access to sensitive information contained on your hard drive. Maybe you find yourself being persecuted by a tyrannical government. Perhaps you’re involved in some shady activity, or maybe you just want to protect yourself and secure your computer and your personal information. The reasons for encrypting your data are virtually unlimited, and secure encryption will prevent access to your information should your computer fall into the hands of an adversary.
While there are several options out there for encryption software, TrueCrypt is decidedly one of the best. TrueCrypt includes useful features such as hidden operating systems, keyfiles, and the ability to encrypt portable media. And the best part? It’s free, open-source, and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. TrueCrypt supports AES (which is used by the US military to encrypt data up to the top secret level), Twofish, and Serpent cryptographic algorithms, as well as several combinations of cascaded algorithms. I’ve been using TrueCrypt for almost a year now on a Windows laptop and an Ubuntu netbook, and I’ve found nothing to complain about. It’s easy to set up and install, I’ve noticed no adverse effects on the performance or speed of either system, and everything runs as it should. With TrueCrypt, you really sacrifice nothing for high quality, secure encryption. One important thing to note, however, is that your encryption is only as strong as your password. If your password can be easily cracked, even the strongest encryption is essentially meaningless.
Resources, Links and Information:
- The official TrueCrypt website
- As part of their Surveillance Self-Defense Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation provides a basic explanation of how encryption works here, as well as information on the law and encryption as a means for protecting yourself against surveillance here.
- A testament to the effectiveness of TrueCrypt: Hopefully you don’t need this level of encryption, but neither Brazilian police nor the FBI could crack a suspect’s computers that were encrypted with TrueCrypt.
- Comparison of Disk Encryption Software on Wikipedia