Encrypting External USB Drives (Linux)

Image Source: http://goo.gl/fIeR7Q

One of the concerns (no sleep lost, tho) I’ve had since Truecrypt went belly-up was how to best encrypt the various external USB hard drives I have. On these drives, I keep confidential information (e.g. medical, financial, etc.) that I don’t want others to have access to, in case they were to be stolen. Usually, they are just multiple copies of the same data, which I update periodically.

Encrypting removable devices (USB flash drives, external hard drives, etc) provides a method to guarantee data security in the event of loss, theft or confiscation. When backing up personal information onto external storage, encryption is a recommended preparation for the filesystem.Source: Encrypted FileSystems

While playing around with TAILS, I learned about how to encrypt external drives…I’d read about it before, but hadn’t spent as much time since TrueCrypt and AESCrypt.com took care of my needs.

For fun, I started encrypting all my external USB drives, but since I don’t typically run TAILS (e.g. Crunchbang or PeppermintOS) all the time, I wondered how to do this on those GNU/Linux distros.

Here are the steps I followed:

1) Install cryptsetup
sudo apt-get install cryptsetup

2) Install Disk Utility
sudo apt-get install gnome-disk-utility

Here’s what it looks like:

3) Add this to my Openbox menu
This is the only step that really caused me some concern but a quick google search revealed that you can use the following command palimpsest



4) To encrypt a hard drive–all pre-existing data will be wiped out–follow these steps:

a) Format the device

b) This will result in a blank drive, so you will need to create a partition … note that you will want to check the “Encrypt underlying device” and assign it a name, then click CREATE.

c) When you click CREATE, you will be prompted for a passphrase. Be sure to memorize this; if you lose it, you won’t be able to get access to the drive later.

d) That’s pretty much it. Success will look something like this:

5) Plug the drive in. The next time you plug the drive into a computer, you will be prompted:

After you enter the password, you will be able to access the encrypted contents:

If you ever need to change the password, you can run Disk Utility again and click on “Change passphrase.”


View my Flipboard Magazine.


Make Donations via PayPal below:


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-3445626-5’]); _gaq.push([‘_setDomainName’, ‘mguhlin.org’]); _gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]); (function() { var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true; ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })();

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: