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Picture of How to Secure Your USB Drive
Everyone has files they don't want others seeing. Maybe they are financial documents, school work, or other "questionable" files. Whatever they are, you want a way to secure them. Putting a password on your PC will do you no good, and it would not be portable. Buying a USB drive makes data portable, put usually not secure. For truly secure data, you need an encrypted USB drive.

I will show you how to make a super, unhackable USB drive. It will be of no use to anyone but you, and even if someone had access to government grade hacking software, they would not be able to access the data.

I am NOT responsible for whatever you put on the drive, or whatever damage you do with said data or the drive.
 
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Step 1: The Tools

Picture of The Tools
truecrypt.png
First and foremost, you need two things:

1) A USB drive
2) TrueCrypt

The USB drive can be obtained at any store that sells material items. You should probably get a 1GB or bigger, because 1GB only costs about $10. I am using a 4GB that I have had for 2 years (same as the one in the picture below, just half the memory).

TrueCrypt is an open-source (free for your not-so-computer-knowledgeable-person) software. It uses government grade encryption (256-bit) and better, so you can be sure your data is safe. You can download it at http://www.truecrypt.org/. After installing it, you will need to restart your computer.

Step 2: Encrypting the Drive: Part 1

Before you encrypt the drive, you must format it. Do NOT use a quick format on the drive. I don't know why, but just don't.

Once you have formatted the drive, open TrueCrypt. Make sure the drive is inserted, then click Create Volume.

Click the middle selection labeled Encrypt a non-system partition/drive.

To create an EXTREMELY well encrypted drive, click Hidden TrueCrypt Volume. For just really good encryption, click Standard TrueCrypt Volume. If you choose to not make a hidden partition, then you can skip step 3.

On the next screen, select Normal Mode. This will tell the program that the drive is normal, and there is no encryption in place yet.

On the next screen, you will be given the chance to select which drive you are encrypting. Choose your drive, and make sure that you choose the one with the drive letter next to it, as seen in the picture.

Next, choose your encryption algorithm. You can keep the ones that are already in place, but I chose to use three different encryption schemes, and a better hash algorithm, as shown in my screenshot.

You are now going to choose a password for the outer volume. I used a password generator and made my password 60 characters long (maximum supported is 64). This means that even I do not know the password. This would normally be a bad thing, but I copied the password into my KeePass database.

The next window will be called Outer Volume Format. Leave the options as default, and move your mouse around inside the window for a minute. Then, click Format. Depending on the drive size, this may take a while. My drive was 4GB, and it took about eleven minutes.

Step 3: Encrypting the Drive: Part 2

Picture of Encrypting the Drive: Part 2
create-volume-12.bmp
create-volume-13.bmp
Skip this if you did not choose to make a hidden partition.

QUICK NOTE
A hidden partition gives you what is called "plausable deniability." This means that there is a hidden drive there, and someone may know it, but they cannot prove it. A hidden partition is a great place to put REALLY sensitive documents.

To make the inner partition, you must first decide how big you want it to be. I chose 1500MB, or 1.5GB. That should be good enough.

Next, choose another password (make this one different). I made mine 60 characters long again.

You will go through the encryption algorithm page (I kept the schemes the same) and the format page (keep the defaults) again. The formatting should take less time than when you encrypted the whole drive.

Once you are done, an alert message will pop up, warning you about the hidden volume and how to use it.

OK, by now, if you have done everything correctly, you should have a USB drive that has better-than-government-grade encryption on it. To make it even more secure, go to the next step.

Step 4: Beyond Precautionary: Paranoia

Picture of Beyond Precautionary: Paranoia
If you go this far and think/believe/know that you need it, then you are either a government agent, a terrorist, or parinoid. I don't care either way, but I hope you are not a terrorist (please don't leave comments saying that you are a terrorist).

To make your drive really secure, you can do many things. I will show you what i believe is the easiest way.

Open TrueCrypt and mount the hidden volume. Then, go to http://portableapps.com/apps/utilities/eraser_portable and download Eraser Portable. This program can delete data using the Gutmann method so that recovering it is impossible. Install the program on the hidden partition.

Next, go to the TrueCrypt main screen (with the hidden volume still mounted) and click Create an Encrypted File Container. Create a volume on your encrypted drive (I put mine on the hidden partition). If you wish, you can make this voulme with a hidden section. Store your secret files inside this volume.

If you installed Eraser Portable on your USB drive in the same directory as the file you just made, you can erase the file if you feel someone may know the password and there is not enough time to change the password.

Step 5: Final Thoughts

Picture of Final Thoughts
I hope this Instructable helps you hide those files that you don't want others to see. If you REALLY need to keep those files hidden from those who might search your house to get them, you can hide the drive itself outside your house (bury it in your yard?).

If you chose to make a hidden partition on your drive, what you should do is place some "kinda-secret" files on the regular partition, and your actual secret documents on the hidden partition. This way, if you are ever forced to reveal the password to the drive, you can give the person the password to the outer partition! They may never find out that you have a hidden partition.

If you do make a 60 character password, either get KeePass or hope your memory is as good as you think.

Feel free to comment, rate, or tell me what I did wrong so I can correct it. Also, if someone has an idea for another instructable, please tell me.
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MarcelL15 months ago

TrueCrypt is no longer available for official download. You may want to consider using EncryptStick (www.encryptstick.com) or SecureAccess (http://www.sandisk.com/products/software/secureaccess/ ) instead.

llord.eevil10 months ago

Truecrypt can be accessed by the government. Here is a presentation of a law enforcement agency saying they can get inside Truecrypt as well as MS Bitlocker.

http://www.techarp.com/showarticle.aspx?artno=770&pgno=3

@echo off

title Folder Locker

IF EXIST "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B303­­09D}" GOTO UNLOCK

IF NOT EXIST Locker GOTO MDLOCKER

echo Folder Created.

:CONFIRM

echo Are you sure you want to lock the folder? (Y/N)

set/p "cho="

IF %cho%==Y GOTO LOCK

IF %cho%==y GOTO LOCK

IF %cho%==N GOTO END

IF %cho%==n GOTO END

echo Invalid Choice.

GOTO CONFIRM

:LOCK

ren Locker "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B303­­09D}"

attrib +h +s "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B303­­09D}"

echo Folder Locked.

GOTO END

:UNLOCK

echo Enter password to unlock the Folder :

set/p "pass="

IF NOT %pass% == jaijai23 GOTO FAIL

attrib -h -s "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B303­­09D}"

ren "Control Panel.{21EC2020-3AEA-1069-A2DD-08002B303­­09D}" Locker

echo Folder Unlocked Successfully.

GOTO END

:FAIL

echo Invalid Password!

GOTO END

:MDLOCKER

md Locker

echo Folder created.

GOTO END

:END

This one works for me... I just converted the bat files to exe.

Just download the converter here..
http://download.cnet.com/Bat-To-Exe-Converter/3000...

BettyL110 months ago

USB encryption is must these days. Person like myself, I carry sensitive information around and most of the times I forget my USB here and there. Obviously I would not like my friends or anyone else to peek in. That is the reason I use encryption and I partcularly use Data Protecto. The software has been good to me. Its been 3 years now and i have been using this software. I am glad i tried it. Recommend too. http://www.dataprotecto.com/

JasonB211 months ago

It's a good idea to password protect USB by truecrypt before its holes published. Now bitlocker or this folder protector: http://www.kakasoft.com/folder-protect/ which is easy but safety is good choice.

frodobot6 years ago
This is a really cool idea. BUT, my problem is that where you put "A hidden partition gives you what is called "plausable deniability." This means that there is a hidden drive there, and someone may know it, but they cannot prove it. A hidden partition is a great place to put REALLY sensitive documents." made me immediately think that paedophiles and internet perves could use this to hide paedophilic files and images. Does anybody think the same?
No, but I am now - thanks for blabbing - now I am sure that you have given the idea to those exact people that might be reading this.
Sometimes it's better not to say anything.
Good point... Didn't think about being 13 at the time.
Its very important to protect USB drive as its one of the most vulnerable part of computer. The software recommended above is really good, but along with that i also use the techniques given here " http://techwikasta.com/2012/10/how-to-secure-your-usb-drive/ " , this help me keep my USB drive more secured.
what is the gutmann method? please tell me
It is a method of data deletion where the data is overwritten 35 times. If you delete files using it, they will be impossible to recover.
will it deleat everything even if im entering my really really long password and i tap a wrong key.
TrueCrypt is good for encrypting documents and securing them but it is hackable.
I've done it before because I accidently forgot my password for it.
Crazy Leprecaun (author)  Jamez Britton4 years ago
And how'd you do that? Because it's government-grade encryption.
i downloaded a government-grade password variable hacker
Crazy Leprecaun (author)  Jamez Britton4 years ago
Oh really? And where'd you get that?
IAMAFISH5 years ago
Thanks for the instructable it has been very useful. What if your a paranoid terrorist government agent instead of just one of them?
I'm rolling around on the floor laughing at the above right now...
jvpernis5 years ago
can you make an usb which encrypts all files on the hard drive (and really secret files stored on the usb) until the usb is plugged in? and if u pull out the usb that all files will encrypt automaticly again? that'd be awesome because it is kinda like a key to your computer. very useful when u have a laptop. nice instructable by the way!
ArduMir5 years ago
A good starter tutorial, but Step 4 in your article is not always correct. I'm purely writing this to be informative, not to insult you. Flash drives use flash memory to store data, which tends to wear down after a prolonged usage. To prevent it from wearing down as quick, a technique called 'wear leveling' was implemented. Instead of a physical sector of the drive being overwritten like a normal disk, new data gets written to unused sectors of memory, while the 'overwritten data' just becomes free to use. Basically, there's two problems you'll have. The first is you won't actually be overwriting the old data, it will just write off to unused sectors to prevent wearing. Second is you're using the Gutmann method to make 35 passes across unused sectors that may never overwrite the old data, also causing wearing to your flash drive.
lockpick5 years ago
Hi I'm on a Mac and when I attempt to encrypt my flash drive it asks me for a pass word and when I enter a password it says incorrect. Any help?
red 9er5 years ago
Can i apply this method to say, an entire internal hard drive in a computer?
bsoud5 years ago
I have an external drive for work. Its encrypted and I was able to mount the drive at work. However, when I try to auto mount it at home, i put in the password, and it says "Incorrect password or no TrueCrypt volume found"...I Absolutely have the right password, its the one I used at work. Any ideas?
mox386 bsoud5 years ago
I have the same problem, and there seems to be nothing out there on the internet about the Truecrypt "Incorrect password or no TrueCrypt volume found" error on the automount feature of truecrypt. It's getting to be a real hassle as it used to work on this computer. You can kinda tell others are having the issue, but there are no answers out there yet, and I've been searching for a few months off and on.
Crazy Leprecaun (author)  bsoud5 years ago
The obvious answer would be that you are selecting the wrong drive to decrypt. If that's not the answer, try one of these:

1) You did forget the password (or a keyfile).
2) The header is corrupted.
3) Some strange OS or user privileges issues.

If none of those work, try the TrueCrypt Forums or TrueCrypt FAQ.
 It says resource busy whenever I enter the password.
 Hi, on a mac, I see a select device button at the bottom of the screen, do I need to worry about this section?
 On second thought, never mind, my new question is it asks me my volume location and to select file.
 Can I add documents as I save them without reformatting?
Crazy Leprecaun (author)  M4industries5 years ago
Yes. You just add them when the volume is decrypted, then dismount the volume when you are done.
and the retartard states he is a terriost govenment agent and paranoid. well i say good luck with that. and good work on the instructable i put it on my flash and it works exept the fact that when i go to use it my computer says insert a drive into the port.
Yeah, it will do that. You can't access the encrypted drive from My Computer (or your OS specific file browser). You have to use TrueCrypt to access it in it's "decrypted form".
can the drive be mounted without the truecrypt software installed on the computer you are using?
Crazy Leprecaun (author)  Psychic Master5 years ago
No. You have to have TrueCrypt installed on the computer. HOWEVER, if you have administrator privileges, you can use TrueCrypt in traveler mode. See the website for details.
rada1945 years ago
How would we put are computer password as the truecrypt encryption is that possible
Crazy Leprecaun (author)  rada1945 years ago
Sorry, but I can't understand your question.
Mr. Geek6 years ago
im having a problem, or im just really dumb, I made an encrypted file, but i can just go into windows explorer and open it up.
Crazy Leprecaun (author)  Mr. Geek5 years ago
Well, it's probably still mounted. In the main TrueCrypt window, dismount the drive. That should solve the issue.
El Mano6 years ago
I just want to check before I take a shot at ruinig my new USB drive: how do you remove the encryption and return the encrypted drive to its original state? Secondly, I've hunted through the TrueCrypt user's guide, but I can't find my answer: do you have to have TrueCrypt on the computer to open the drive? I gather that the process encrypts the entire drive, leaving no space to carry around the TrueCrypt files. Rather useless if you want to use the drive on a computer at school or someplace.
Crazy Leprecaun (author)  El Mano6 years ago
1) To remove the encryption, you format the drive. If you do not want to lose the data, you can copy it to your computer or to another USB or to an encrypted volume. 2) Yes, you have to have TrueCrypt installed on a computer to access the drive. While this is a problem, there is no way around it.
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