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4 Open and Free Disk and NAS Encryption Projects
October 4, 2010
As usual, the Free/Open Source software world provides the best security utilities for Windows, and for Linux and Mac as well. Eric Geier rounds up four encryption utilities for both local and network storage.
Though disk encryption has been around for many years, many of us don't take advantage of it. The basic concept is that your documents, files, and data are scrambled until you provide a password to unlock them. Therefore if your PC or laptop is stolen, the thief won't be able to read your data, protecting any sensitive information you might be storing.
Let's take a look at four different open source disk encryption projects that might be able to help you secure your data. Don't let Microsoft trick you into buying the expensive Enterprise or Ultimate editions of Windows to get their disk encryption feature, called BitLocker. These open source utilities can give you protection in Windows (and sometimes Linux and Mac OS X) for free.
TrueCrypt is one of the most popular on-the-fly encryption solutions with almost 16 million downloads from their site alone. It runs on all of the major platforms: Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux. It features a variety of encryption options, including system drive support, hidden volumes, and support for hiding a Windows installation.
TrueCrypt supports three main encryption methods:
Each of these methods has a hidden implementation, giving you double-protection. You can create an outer encrypted volume and then place another encrypted volume inside it, useful if you are ever forced to reveal your password.
If you need help on setting up TrueCrypt, refer to a previous tutorial of mine on eSecurityPlanet, another Internet.com site.
FreeOTFE is another on-the-fly encryption solution. It runs on all Windows versions from 2000 to 7. They provide limited Linux support, but none for Mac OS X. However, they have a PDA utility for Windows Mobile 2003 and later.
FreeOTFE lets you create encrypted volumes using file containers, similar as discussed with the previous solution. You can also encrypt non-system partitions and entire disks. Plus you can create hidden volumes inside encrypted volumes. You cannot, however, encrypt the partition where an OS is installed like you can with Windows when using TrueCrypt.
This project provides three different utilities, where encrypted volumes you create in one are accessible in the others:
For help on using FreeOTFE, refer to a previous tutorial of mine on eSecurityPlanet.