How to Encrypt Your Sensitive Files Using TrueCrypt
Hello and welcome to another InfoSecurity World tutorial. The intent of this article is to teach one how to encrypt sensitive files. When set up correctly with a strong password, it would be almost impossible to hack. Even the FBI have had issues decrypting this software. I'm here to teach you how to create a general encrypted container—not the complex hidden TrueCrypt volume.
What is the benefit to having a TrueCrypt container on the computer? There are many, and here are just some of them:
- Great place to store your passwords;
- Good for storing sensitive information such as your medical history and bank details;
- Great place to store sensitive back up files. Examples include government documentation such as your Social Security Number (SSN), Birth Certificate and/or Citizenship Certificate; and
- Having all your sensitive files in this encrypted container means that whenever your computer becomes infected, it cannot gather the information from what's in TrueCrypt. In addition to the above, should the computer get stolen, all your sensitive information will be encrypted and they won't be able to access it without the correct password.
In all, whatever you consider as "personal" or something that could be "destructive or dangerous in the hands of the hacker"—encrypt it.
- Install the latest TrueCrypt from here before proceeding.
- Back up your computer in case something goes wrong.
- TrueCrypt works on Windows 7/Vista/XP/2000, Mac OS X and Linux. It supports both 32 and 64 bit on Windows and Linux.
Do NOT proceed to these steps until you have both installed TrueCrypt and backed up your operating system.
Step 1 Create a Volume
Find Truecrypt on your computer and open it. Choose from the list of drive letters. I have chosen (F:) Drive to create my personal TC container. When you've chosen which drive to use, click "Create Volume".
Step 2 Create an Encrypted File Container
You may also choose from the others, but we will not be discussing those options today. It is also recommended that inexperienced users go with the method I'm creating. It doesn't make the data any less secure choosing this option. The other options are more about encrypting the entire computer which is for advanced users, not beginners.
Step 3 Create a Standard TrueCrypt Volume
Do not select "Hidden TrueCrypt Volume", as this is for more advanced users.
Step 4 Choose the Destination
Navigate to the "Documents" folder and for the file name, type something like 'TC Volume". Do NOT click on an existing file or folder and press save. Doing so will overwrite it—all data within it will be lost.
Step 5 Select Your Encryption Method
The default is recommended. AES-256 has being trusted for many years and therefore is more reliable. Note that this encryption method might be used by the U.S. government to protect classified information up to the Top Secret level.
Step 6 Choose the Container's Size
Think about what you will be storing and how much? It's a good idea to add a little bit of extra space in case you decide to store something big. 5 to 10 GB is usually enough.
Step 7 Choose a Password
I recommend at least a 20-character password. It should contain letters (lower and upper case), numbers, symbols and spaces. Here is a great guide to creating good passwords.
Step 8 Set the Default File System
Here you need to make a decision on whether the container will be used to store large files (over 4GB). Depending on what you choose, it will let TC choose the best formatting option for you.
Step 9 Create Your Encryption Key
Step nine is the fun part! Move your mouse randomly across the TC window to create your encryption key. The longer you move it the stronger the encryption will be. 30 seconds should be the absolute minimum, while a minute or two is ideal. What will happen after you've done this is TC will format your volume, which shouldn't take too long.
Guess what? That's it! That's all there is to creating a TC volume. Just click Exit to quit the program and I'll show you how to open the volume.
Find TC and open it up. Click "Select File" and find the container. Press OK, then click "Mount" and enter the password as the below picture shows.
- The use of encryption is illegal in some countries. So before you install this, ensure that this program is legal in your country.