No Surveillance State Month, Part 6: TrueCrypt & Full Disk Encryption

TuecryptWe’ve done a few posts so far about how to secure your data in transit over the Internet (still more to come on that… promise!). But, none of that protects your data from a thief who steals your laptop, whether or not that thief has a badge. The U.S. has taken the position, for example, that at the border, Customs can search through your hard drives based on nothing more than a hunch. “Must protect the children! Child pornography,” they say. “Must protect the economy! Industrial espionage,” they say. “TERRORISTS,” they shriek. But, behind all this hyperbole, they offer no explanation as to why any child pornographer, intellectual property thief, or terrorist with an I.Q. above room temperature would literally walk their digital contraband across the border rather than send it via the Internet from the convenience of their cave in Pakistan (or wherever “the enemy” hides these days).

I first wrote about TrueCrypt only 4 days after founding this blog. TrueCrypt is the gold standard, publicly-vetted (but not open-source) full disk encryption software package. Full disk encryption means that the entirety of your computer is unreadable without a password. This is our — we, the people’s — best defense against government prying into our personal documents, family photos, communications with friends, and really, our everything in this day and age. If done properly, full disk encryption cannot be broken even by the government (and again, if the government were able to unscramble it, they would never admit to it or waste such a valuable secret to spy on random citizens).

Please have a look at TrueCrypt’s Web site, read through their documents (they’re not very long), and protect your computer by utilizing it.

This is one of a 30-part series, “No Surveillance State Month,” where daily for the month of June I’ll be posting ways to avoid invasion of your privacy in the digital age. The intent of these posts is not to enable one to escape detection while engaging in criminal activity — there’s still the old-fashioned “send a detective to watch you” for which these posts will not help. Rather, this series will help you to opt-out of the en masse collection of data by the government and large corporations that places Americans in databases without their knowing and freely-given consent for indefinite time periods. We all have the right to privacy, and I hope you demand it.

5 thoughts on “No Surveillance State Month, Part 6: TrueCrypt & Full Disk Encryption

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  1. Terrific stuff! I just hope one of your posts is on choosing a long enough passphrase, since one’s encryption is only as strong as one’s key.

  2. I’m enjoying the series so far, but a minor language point irks me here: to “use” means to employ something towards a purpose, to “utilize” means to use something in a way other than its typically intended role. That is, you use a stapler to punch a metal ribbon through sheets of paper, but you might utilize it as a paperweight. So, I assume, you mean to ask readers to use TrueCrypt, not to utilize it.

    Look forward to the rest of the June’s updates, which is conveniently when Reader dies. Hooray!

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