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Tool Tips: TrueCrypt

Stephen Yagielowicz
For many computer users, the problem of securing data from unauthorized viewers is a common worry. From banking information to corporate secrets and beyond, the need to prevent privacy breaches isn't just for those "having something to hide" but for everyone concerned with identity theft and more.

Aiding privacy seekers is TrueCrypt, a free OpenSource disk encryption application designed for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X and Linux-based systems.

According to the company website, www.truecrypt.org, the TrueCrypt software creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk and allows users to encrypt an entire partition or storage device such as a USB flash drive or hard drive.

TrueCrypt can encrypt a system partition or entire drive, such as the drive where Windows is installed and from which it boots. This level of system encryption reportedly "provides the highest level of security and privacy, because all files, including any temporary files that Windows and applications create on the system partition (typically, without your knowledge or consent), hibernation files, swap files, etc., are always permanently encrypted (even when power supply is suddenly interrupted). Windows also records large amounts of potentially sensitive data, such as the names and locations of files you open, applications you run, etc. All such log files and registry entries are always permanently encrypted too."

TrueCrypt's encryption process is automatic and performed transparently, in real-time.

TrueCrypt uses the AES-256, Serpent and Twofish encryption algorithms and for advanced users, "provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password," through the use of hidden volumes and hidden operating systems, as well as volume obfuscation, in which the company claims that no TrueCrypt volume can be identified, or in other words, that the volumes cannot be distinguished from random data.

Given the strength of the encryption and the free download, TrueCrypt is a great way to secure sensitive business data and other private information from prying eyes. Give it a try for yourself and see if it satisfies your needs for enhanced data security.

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