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How To Encrypt A Flash Drive Using VeraCrypt


Hello learners, today we will be learning how to encrypt USB drive with password for mission critical operations. Encryption is the art of securing digital information from access by unwanted parties. Over the years, encryption has evolved making it more easily accessible and compatible with different storage devices and operating systems. In this guide we will encrypt USB drive using VeraCrypt which is a free to use encryption software.




How To Encrypt A Flash Drive Using VeraCrypt


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This is an opensource encryption software which is available on the internet for use in encryption. This is a descendant of TruCrypt encryption software which was found to have vulnerabilities allowing the encryption to be broken. To address these vulnerabilities, VeraCrypt was born. Once there was a report where the FBI were unable to break into a drive encrypted using VeraCrypt with a 50-character password. To start with, we will have to download VeraCrypt software.


Our first step is to select the USB drive that we want to encrypt. On the top left of the home window of VeraCrypt, we select to create a new volume and we select to encrypt a non-system partition which means it is an external storage device. Click Next and allow the VeraCrypt drivers to run on the PC.


On the next screen, we have to choose the type of the volume we need to create. The first option is the standard type, on this option we just encrypt USB drive without the need to hide the volume from being seen by unwanted parties. The second option hides the volume from being seen by unwanted parties. This option can be used to encrypt USB drive which store mission critical files.


This is the most critical step to encrypt USB drive. This step will determine if your files will still be safe after encryption or it will water down your efforts to encrypt USB drive. The password we choose here should satisfy all the characteristics of a good password to ensure our encrypted volume is safe.


Avoid using personalized passwords i.e. passwords relating to maybe your name, birthday, favourite sports or hobbies and other features which can be easily related back to you. You can use an online password generator to ensure your password meets all the requirements. Make the password as long as you wish to make it stronger. You also have an option to use key files to open your encrypted volume.


As shown on the screen below, we are required to move our mouse randomly on the screen in order to increase the strength of our encryption keys used to encrypt USB drive. We also have to choose the format we want the USB to be formatted to and in our case, we choose exFAT and click Format in order to start to encrypt USB drive.


We have successfully managed to encrypt USB drive and now we want to mount it and open it. When I tried mounting it I ran into an error telling me to format the drive in order to use it on the system.


We can now open and add files to our encrypted drive and once we are through using the drive we can unmount it safely being sure that our files are behind a strong encryption hardened with a strong password.


The VeraCrypt Volume Creation Wizard allows you to create an encrypted file container on the flash drive which sits along with other unencrypted files, or you can choose to encrypt the entire flash drive. For the moment, we will choose to encrypt the entire flash drive.


If you set up a flash drive with an encrypted container rather than encrypting the whole drive, you also have the option to create what VeraCrypt calls a traveler disk. This installs a copy of VeraCrypt on the USB flash drive itself, so when you insert the drive in another Windows computer you can run VeraCrypt automatically from the flash drive; there is no need to install it on the computer.


People normally use VeraCrypt to create encrypted file containers within a drive. But you can also encrypt entire partitions and drives using it. Windows users in particular can encrypt their system drives and partitions. Here's how you can secure your Windows system by using VeraCrypt.


Windows users can use VeraCrypt to encrypt their entire system drive. They can also partition their hard drive, then encrypt a partition with VeraCrypt. With system encryption, users will need to enter the correct password before opening Windows.


This option is only available for Windows users as an alternative to BitLocker, Windows' file encryption program. This is especially important if you use a Home version of Windows, since BitLocker is only available for Windows Pro and Enterprise users. Linux users can instead encrypt their drives using LUKS. And macOS users can use the FileVault to encrypt their system drives.


The next step is choosing an area to encrypt. You can choose between encrypting the Windows system partition or the entire drive. Encrypting the whole drive has the advantage of protecting all its partitions.


If you choose to encrypt the whole drive, VeraCrypt may warn you that a non-standard partition exists on your internal hard drive. Only click Yes if you are sure that your drive does not have any recovery partitions. Recovery partitions could be rendered incapable if encrypted.


The wizard will begin collecting random data. This random data increases the cryptographic strength of your drive's encryption keys. Move your mouse around the window randomly until VeraCrypt has collected enough randomness. Once this is done, click Next.


Once VeraCrypt has generated the encryption keys, you will need to create a rescue disk. Having a rescue disk for an encrypted system drive is essential. You can use it if the VeraCrypt Boot Loader, Windows, or any other critical data gets damaged.


VeraCrypt will prompt you if you do not have a CD/DVD burner on your system. Once your rescue disk is created, you need to burn it to a CD/DVD drive. Since CDs and DVDs are hard to come by these days, you can also flash the ISO file to a USB drive. You also have the option to store it externally for later flashing or burning.


In any case, make sure that the rescue disk is outside your system once it's created. Also, note that every VeraCrypt rescue disk is unique to its encrypted drive. Select the appropriate option for your use case to continue.


Upon restart, your computer will go through the VeraCrypt Boot Loader. You will have to type your password on the boot loader to decrypt your system and open Windows. You will also need to input your encrypted drive's PIM number if you set one earlier.


Depending on your drive or partition size, the encryption process can take some time. If you need to use your Windows PC in the meantime, you can pause or defer the encryption process by clicking Defer.


Once VeraCrypt completes the process, your Windows system drive or partition will be encrypted. You will have to go through the VeraCrypt Boot Loader every time your start up your computer. You can rest easier knowing that strong encryption is protecting your desktop.


Teo has been an advocate for free software and digital privacy since 2018. He teaches the importance of online privacy and digital literacy to the communities around him. He also carries a Fedora Linux install flash drive everywhere he goes.


In this tutorial, we are going to learn how to encrypt a USB drive using the free and open-source VeraCrypt program. By encrypting your external drive, your sensitive data is protected if any unexpected event happens such as it being lost or stolen. We will also learn how to mount the encrypted USB drive to the Linux file system.


In the next window, click Select Device button and choose a location for the outer volume. If you create a hidden encrypted volume on a USB flash drive, then select the location of the USB flash drive. Make sure you select the right one because it will be formatted and all data on that drive will be lost. My USB drive is /dev/sdc, but yours might be different.


***IMPORTANT: With an attached external drive (e.g., a USB drive), the setup process will delete all existing files on this external drive. Backup any files on this drive you wish to save or restore. Be sure you select the right drive and partition before encrypting***


The information you store on your flash drives is the most vulnerable because you can lose it any day. So, you better protect the most sensitive data on your flash drive with encryption. In this post, you will learn how to encrypt a flash drive in Linux using four different ways with varying levels of complexity and security.


Although nowadays everything is moving to the cloud and flash drives are not used often, they are still handy sometimes. Especially, if you are concerned about your privacy. Because your online accounts can get hacked, but in case of a flash drive, someone first needs to get physical access to it. And if your flash drive is encrypted, that person would also have to decrypt it, which is not easy.


For all the encryption options, I will use VeraCrypt. It is the most user-friendly and flexible encryption tool. First of all, it is available for all platforms. So, you will be able to access your encrypted data from Linux, Windows, and Mac OS. Besides flash drives, VeraCrypt can be used to encrypt Linux hard drives too. The program has a fairly simple but powerful graphical interface.


For the flash drive encryption, using a key file is not practical. But if you are going to mount your flash drive to 1-2 specific computers only, you can enable the key file to increase the security. I have shown how to use a key file in the post about Linux graphical encrypting program.


Now, VeraCrypt will create an encrypted volume on your flash drive. It may take a while, depending on the size of the volume you are creating. If all goes well, you should see this screen where it says that the volume has been created correctly.


When the encrypted volume is dismounted, open the USB drive again. So, the file you placed into the volume should not be accessible in the flash drive. You should only see the encrypted volume file and even if you try to open it, the system should not recognize it. So, all the data located in this file is securely encrypted and the only way to access it is to mount it with VeraCrypt.


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