|24 Apr 2010||#1|
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System & File Security Tip
Since I got such a good response to my post about password security and using a program like KeePass to secure your passwords I figured I'd post another thread about system and file security. Particularly in the area of encryption. While encryption is very useful, it's not for everyone. It's most useful for those who have sensitive data and wish to keep it away from prying eyes. It can keep your documents safe and even hide them in the event that someone gains access to your computer.
Most people think that their password protected computer has decent enough security to hide their information from prying eyes. Due to the prevalence of firewalls, anti viruses and malware detectors people feel fairly safe leaving their personal information completely vulnerable on their hard disk.
Whether the intruder is accessing your computer physically or virtually, there is a good way to protect your files in addition to all of the normal methods. You can use an encryption software to scramble the data contained within your files and/or your disks. This causes the data to become unreadable unless decrypted by the software.
Now you might be thinking that between all of your security software, you don't need to encrypt anything, as you have enough security. You might be wrong. Imaginge that someone accesses your computer. Now imagine that they have a method by which they can completely bypass your user account password. That person has gained access to all of your data and all of your security software is useless to protect your files. They may protect you from incoming attacks over the web, but once the person finds a way in, the security stops. Now why shouldn't you add one more layer to your security?
The software that I use is called TrueCrypt. Now, I'm not posting these threads as plugs for the software so I won't go too far into depth about it. Instead I'll just talk about what you can do with software like this.
It's particularly useful for encrypting any files that you'd like to keep safe. There are many options in these types of programs but for the most part what you'd be doing is creating a container for these files. This container is encrypted and causes all of the files inside to become encrypted and unreadable unless the software is used to decrypt and mount them. You can name the container anything you want, so it could appear to be a system file, an executable or even a picture.
If you want to go beyond simple encryption volumes and create a hidden partition, you can do that as well. This type of software can be used to do everything from encrypting an entire hard disk and requiring pre boot authentication to simply creating a volume to encrypt your personal files.
The software basically creates partitions and/or volumes within or around whatever disk you're using it on. In order to mount this item as a disk you must have a password and a keyfile if you choose to use that option. The particular software I use has 256-BIT encryption and requires either a password and/or a key file to access the data.
If you store anything on your computer that you don't want falling into the wrong hands, you should really consider implementing a security procedure which involves encrypting your files. This will protect them from cyber attacks as well as physical ones. Even if you forget to log off, you room-mate cannot hop on your computer and open those personal files of yours because he'd need both your password and a key file to do so.
If you'd like a free open source software to test out whether encryption is a good option for you, download TrueCrypt from http://www.truecrypt.org
There are other products on the market as well, I only mention this one because it is free and open source
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