The so called “War on Terror” has long since lost its luster and should be appropriately reclassified as The War of Terror. The U.S. has been singularly impudent in terrorizing the terrorists but instead, it has managed to terrorize the rest of the world using a system of surveillance schemes that have gone off the board. Chalk one up for Al Qaeda – the only winners in this debacle.
In the meantime, Americans continue to live in fear – trading away freedoms for security in a war that is simple unwinnable. Obama, despite his assurances that he would “fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties” has been a principle mover in this assault on democracy.
And, the master of the reversal has more –
Obama, in a 2008 election sound bite, drew a sharp contrast with the Bush administration which he proclaimed, offered Americans “a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.” And for good measure – for stooping “to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.” It’s a surreal world we live in, is it not?
But why be satisfied with my ramblings? Here’s the video.
As America continues its slide into Fascism (eagerly joined in the venture by Canada, Australia, the U.K. and countless other self-advertised “democracies”), the justified expectation held by these governments is – you – yes, you – will take no active part in expressing your outrage at the escalating intrusions into your private life. Sadly, the undermining of democracy, or more to the point, democracy as we though we knew it, continues apace.
As a consequence (hardly the only consequence, of course), encryption technology is once again in the spotlight. And no, using encryption does not mean that one has something to hide.
Sophisticated and aware computer users know, that financial data and other confidential information, can easily be subject to intrusive viewing by those not authorized to do so.
Putting Obama and his bad boys aside, here are some examples of how this might occur:
Internet malware attack: Increasingly, statistics reinforce the fact that financial data continues to be targeted by hackers/information thieves, for the purpose of identity theft.
Contrast that reality with these facts; there is no such thing as a totally secure Internet connected computer. All Internet connected computers are subject to attack and compromise.
Lost or stolen Laptop: How often have we read the following – 200,00 (insert your own number here), bank account numbers, Social Insurance Numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth were on a laptop stolen/lost earlier this week.
In too many of these cases, negligently, the data is unencrypted. Certainly Laptop theft or loss is not restricted to organizations; it can just as easily happen to you.
Lost or stolen USB drive: Since USB flash 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, or stolen.
To reduce or eliminate the security threat of sensitive data exposure then, the most prudent course of action is data encryption. Essentially, data encryption is a secure process for keeping your sensitive and confidential information private. It’s a process by which bits of data are mathematically jumbled with a password-key. The Encryption process makes the data unreadable unless, or until, decrypted.
It happens to us all: Just this past week, I lost not only my house keys (first time ever) – but the USB key attached to the keychain. If you guessed that the drive was encrypted – take a bow.
TrueCrypt is an outstanding free open source software application 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. The program automatically and transparently encrypts in real time.
No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without the correct password/key file or correct encryption keys. The entire file system is encrypted (i.e., file names, folder names, contents, free space, Meta data, etc.).
Files can be copied to and from a mounted TrueCrypt volume just like they are copied to/from any normal disk (for example, by simple drag-and-drop operations). When you turn off your computer, the volume will be dismounted and files stored in the volume will be inaccessible and encrypted. You may of course, manually dismount the volume.
TrueCrypt offers a number of options – you can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or on a portable storage device such as a USB flash drive.
Installation is simple and straightforward – no gotchas here. Lots of steps – but easy steps.
If you choose “Keyfiles”, be sure you understand the ramifications. This is an extra security step which has limited application for a home user. You do not need to select this option.
And – Win 8’s File Explorer reports that the volume has been setup successfully. If you expand the graphic below (click), you’ll also notice my first TrueCrypt volume on this HD from May 9, 2006.
Indicative of this application’s popularity is the fact that it is downloaded tens of thousands of times each day, across the Internet.
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
Pipelined operations increasing read/write speed by up to 100% (Windows)
I’ve been using TrueCrypt for a number of years, and I have developed a lot of confidence in this outstanding application. If you determine that encryption of your sensitive data is a priority, I highly recommend that you give TrueCrypt a try.
How effective is TrueCrypt? If you have any doubts as to how effective TrueCrypt really is, then read this article. FBI hackers fail to crack TrueCrypt:
The FBI has admitted defeat in attempts to break the open source encryption used to secure hard drives seized by Brazilian police during a 2008 investigation.
System Requirements: Win 8, Win 7, Vista, XP, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Download at: TrueCrypt