Clever code

If you want to protect your data from peeping toms, stay tuned as we show you how to dress your drive in 12 steps.

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  May 3, 2008

If you want to protect your data from peeping toms, stay tuned as we show you how to dress your drive with matrix-style code in 12 quick steps.

One of the biggest myths about data encryption is that it's only for government organisations and huge financial firms. Data protection is crucial for everyone, including you.

With countless stories of identity thefts, data breaches and stolen notebooks in the news, encrypting your own data is an absolute must. In fact, there are so many free encryption apps available online nowadays, so there's really no good reason not to shield your data.

So what exactly does the term 'encryption' mean? Encryption is the process by which readable data is converted into gibberish. Reversing the process is known as decryption. There are essentially three ways to encrypt your data:

1. Encrypt the whole hard disk.

2. Partition your hard drive and encrypt one of more of these sections.

3. Create an encrypted volume (i.e. a virtual hard disk), which you can mount when you need it and dismount when you don't.

For the purpose of this workshop, we'll show you how to encrypt your data using the third route.

Step 1 - Insert TrueCrypt

First up, insert this month's free Windows Middle East CD-ROM and install TrueCrypt. Once you launch the app, you'll see a standard screen where you can easily work with encrypted hard drives.

On this screen, you'll see a list of drive letters that you can allocate to each encrypted disk. To begin encrypting your data, click on the ‘Create Volume' button.

Step 2 - Create volume

TrueCrypt can encode a hard disk partition. It can also create a 'virtual disk' and store it as a single file.

Since this is the first time most of you will be encrypting your data, we recommend creating a virtual encrypted disk as there is no chance of corrupting your files or system installation. To do this, select the ‘Create a file container' option and click 'Next'.

Step 3 - Pick a volume type

You'll now be taken to the ‘Volume Type' selection screen. Here you can choose between two flavours of 'encrypted volume', which is essentially an encrypted hard disk. ‘Standard encryption' offers a single layer of protection, and requires a password for the data to be accessed.

Meanwhile, 'Hidden encryption' offers two layers of security. It creates and stores an additional encrypted - but secret - volume inside a standard volume.

The reasoning behind this type of encryption is fairly simply; if you are forced to divulge a password (e.g. extortion) for your standard drive, it's not a problem as the sensitive data is actually stored in the secret drive, which is out of sight.

For the purpose of this workshop however, we will select the 'Standard TrueCrypt encryption' option as this adequate for most tech users and easier to handle. Click 'Next'.

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