Just another day

Your USB and You

The USB flash drive is perhaps one of the most useful inventions ever created. A USB flash drive (thumb drive or some call it the PenDrive) acts like a removable storage disk which when plugged in to a PC will enable user to transfer files and documents in a no-sweat condition. I like the gadget because of its mobility and I can do transfer of my favorite and important files in a less hassling way. When I say “less hassling way” I mean there will be chance for a “very hassling way”, just like when I say “I disagree” I could mean “I actually agree” or “I agree with you a lot”. Do you notice when we are arguing we are constantly giving our own definition on an issue demanding the consent of others but in fact we do at the same time already have the mental knowledge or agreement inside of ourselves without realizing it. It is actually prescribed in us already. So tell me what is the point of debating? After all, the art of communication is you people are telling what I want to know but what I want to know is what is happening. Ok ok let us come back.

What is considered a “hassling way” then? That is when you start to play some random game and in the end of the game you realized you are in a hot trouble. One norm I notice is the prevalent and heavy application of the USB flash drive in our daily life. Most of the time we are unaware of the moment we plug in the USB flash drive into a PC we have high chances of contracting with malicious software. The malware normally make use of the AutoRun application (that is the small window that pops out asking what the user want to perform with the removable disk every time we connect it to a PC) by inserting codes during the process. The autorun file once executed will attack the PC. Your important assignment or favourite files might be at risk. Your personal information might be leaked. You have to re-install your system. Now that is hassle.

Do you know holding down the [shift] key when inserting removable media will run the AutoPlay? If you do not want the trouble of holding down the button every time you might as well deselect the AutoPlay by going to the Hardware and Sound settings in the Control Panel. There is also a more complicated way of doing this that is by editing your registry files. You can try all the mentioned solutions yourself by searching related information on how to disable AutoRun as the following row is going to be spared for a software that I would like to share with you – TrueCrypt.

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TrueCrypt - encrypt your files

I think this is an enormously useful software. As the name suggest the software encrypts disk. Simply put, your files will be protected by a password.  You can also apply the idea to protect your USB flash drive by encrypting it and at the same time malware will not be able to write codes onto your drive (with the condition that you already fulfilled all the empty spaces in your drive). The software also comes with a traveler mode you can install onto your USB flash drive, in case you want to use it on a PC which have no TrueCrypt installed. So how does this work? After the installation, you can start creating volume (that is the file containing the encrypted virtual disk). But before that if you want to encrypt your USB flash drive, remember to setup a traveler mode onto your USB flash drive first (Tools > Traveler Disk Setup > select your root directory).

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Creating a volume (your password-protected file)

To create a volume, click “Next” until you are asked the location of volume. If you want to encrypt your USB flash drive, select your USB flash drive location and name it. Continue with “Next” until you are asked to decide the size of volume. If you are creating a volume for your USB flash drive I recommend the usage of a byte converter (it is available on the internet) to calculate the exact space in your drive. That way you can obtain optimum space allocation on your drive (that is your drive will show “0 byte of free space” when encryption is done). After that you will be prompted to create a password. The final stage would be formatting your newly created volume.

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Example of encrypted USB flash drive

Open up your USB flash drive when you are done with formatting and you will see something like this (I created 2 files with different size allocated to each).

Select your file and free drive location

Select your file and free drive location

To open up your file, select the file created earlier in the Volume column and choose from any of the available free drives above (that will be the virtual location of your encrypted disk). You will be prompted your password in order to open it.

Mounted file on a free drive

Mounted file on a free drive

After inserting the correct password, you will see the file is opened in the selected free drive. Double-click on the free drive to access your encrypted disk. You can now start to do normal transferring. Oh yeah, check out your “My Computer”, you will see an extra drive, that is your real-time virtual encrypted disk (simply your volume). If you are done with transferring, to stop, simply click “Dismount”, exit TrueCrypt, and safely remove your USB flash drive. Beware, removing the USB flash drive without dismounting might cause data loss or damage to your drive.

The whole thing is utilized based two ideas, that is firstly your USB flash drive is now fully written, in other word there is no extra space for any malicous code to be written on to your device and secondly outsider will not be able to access your USB flash drive as you will need the correct password. Now you get it. It is not that complicated to use, and believe it or not it is going to be very useful.

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One thought on “Your USB and You

  1. Pingback: Locking USB Drives

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