You can call it a Flash Drive, a USB Key, a USB drive, a Keychain drive, or a USB stick. Whatever you call it, you are referring to a small plastic case which contains a circuit board and a USB connector.
Instead of the now obsolete floppy disk (new machines generally don’t have a floppy drive), USB flash drives have become the standard for transporting applications, personal files, documents, pictures, videos, music and so on.
Since USB drives are so portable, you can take a drive virtually anywhere. Just like most items that are portable and that you carry with you, this type of drive can be lost (I’ve personally lost two), or stolen.
If you should lose a USB drive, through happenstance or theft, you need to be sure that any confidential information on the drive cannot be read, and the way to do that is to encrypt your data.
Here are a number of free encryption applications that will encrypt your data, and are suitable for a USB flash drive.
EncryptOnClick is a free program that lets you securely encrypt and decrypt files. The program is very simple to use, and features military grade 256-bit AES encryption.
After you have launched the application, simply select the target file/folder you want to encrypt.
Following the easy interface, type a password for that file/folder which will then be encrypted. To open the encrypted file/folder at a later date, you must type the correct password.
A very secure encryption and decryption method is used (256-bit AES encryption)
Files are both compressed & encrypted, which results in a smaller file
Will encrypt single files or all files in a folder
Very simple to use interface
Can be used on a USB key
Fully Unicode enabled so filenames in any language can be encrypted
Will encrypt, decrypt, compress, and uncompress files which can also be opened and decrypted using third party programs like WinZip 9 – provided the correct password is used
Will detect if you’re decrypting a file that is in a temporary folder, and if so, will prompt you to see if you would like to decrypt it into a different folder
Command line parameters can be used
Complete help file
Free technical support, online forums, knowledge base, and FAQs at 2BrightSparks
Tip: Use on a USB key by copying the files EncryptOnClick.exe, EncryptOnClick.exe manifest, ExceedZip.dll to a named folder on the USB key.
System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista (64 bit)
Download at: SnapFiles
TrueCrypt (updated November 23, 2009), is an outstanding free open source software system, (one I have using for the last several years) for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volume.
On-the-fly encryption simply means that data are automatically encrypted or decrypted just before they are loaded or saved, without any user intervention. No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password/correct encryption keys.
TrueCrypt uses 11 algorithms for encrypting private files in a password-protected volume. You can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or a portable storage device such as a USB flash drive.
Once your encrypted files are mounted to a local drive with your password or key, you can manipulate those files, i.e. you can open, copy, delete, or modify them. When you have completed working on those files, you then dismount the volume and the files are then safely secured from unauthorized access.
Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk
Encrypts an entire hard disk partition or a storage device such as USB flash drive
Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent
Provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password – Hidden volume – No TrueCrypt volume can be identified – volumes cannot be distinguished from random data
Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish. Mode of operation: XTS
Ability to encrypt a system partition/drive (i.e. a partition/drive where Windows is installed) with pre-boot authentication (anyone who wants to gain access and use the system, read and write files, etc., needs to enter the correct password each time before the system starts
System Requirements: Windows 7/Vista/XP (64 bit), Mac OS X, and Linux
Download at: TrueCrypt
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