Encrypting flash drives with UsbCryptFormat

Slashdot it! Delicious Share on Facebook Tweet! Digg!
Oleksandr Marynchenko, 123RF

Oleksandr Marynchenko, 123RF

Safe Travels

USB sticks and external hard drives can easily be lost or stolen. You should therefore protect these storage media against loss and misuse. UsbCryptFormat lets you do this without much effort.

USB storage sticks, SD cards, and external hard drives are essential tools in the daily life of almost every PC user. However, there are some drawbacks to these small storage media: They can disappear pretty easily, for example. If your device gets into the wrong hands, unprotected data is typically visible to all who want to look at it. To protect data found on removable storage devices, all you need is a Linux PC and the encryption software UsbCryptFormat [1].


UsbCryptFormat uses the LUKS method that runs on Linux to encrypt data. LUKS is designed so that it saves the information necessary for decryption in the header of an encrypted partition. Up to eight keys and diverse metadata can be stored in the header. The advantage of this method is that it allows the user to open an encrypted storage device on a computer system even if the system does not run UsbCryptFormat. In that case, the user just needs the cryptsetup package to call the software. Most of the current Linux distributions include this package as part of the standard installation.

Getting Started

UsbCryptFormat is distributed under a GPL and comes as a DEB package for Debian, Ubuntu, and their derivatives that you can download from the project website. Because UsbCryptFormat consists entirely of Bash scripts, the source code is practically built into the system. Users running distributions that have RPM package management can also take advantage of UsbCryptFormat. Here you should first install the program alien that is available in the software repositories of most of the distributions.

The next step is to start the program in the terminal using the following command:

alien -r -v --scripts usbcryptformat_12.05.20_all.deb

The software converts the Debian package into RPM format so you can install it on your system.

When installing UsbCryptFormat, the package creates the entry Encrypt external storage media in the menu structure on your desktop. Clicking the entry starts the program with the appropriate administrative rights. If the application does not appear, you should check the package administration to determine whether the zenity package manager is installed on your computer. UsbCryptFormat uses this program to display its dialogs in the graphical desktop environment.

It's also a good idea to check the corresponding menu entry for the correct command syntax for invoking the software. In other distributions, you may need to replace the su-to-root command, which only comes up in Ubuntu, with either kdesu , which is used on the KDE desktop, or the gksu command for Gnome work environments. In both cases, you should remove the command parameters -X -c . UsbCryptFormat should start without any problems after this preparatory work.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF

Pages: 2

Price $0.99
(incl. VAT)

Buy Ubuntu User

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Surfing the Internet anonymously with JonDonym

    JonDonym lets you surf the Internet anonymously without complicated configurations, even from a live stream.

  • Encrypted ZFS with Ubuntu

    ZFS is one of the most advanced filesystems, and now it can be used natively on Linux. One drawback is that native ZFS encryption is not available, but this article shows how use Linux's disk encryption to install Ubuntu onto an encrypted disk with ZFS.

  • Installing Ubuntu 13.10

    Ubuntu 13.10 offers some changes to the installation process. We'll walk you through upgrading or installing the latest release.

  • Installing Ubuntu 13.10

    Ubuntu 13.10 offers some changes to the installation process. We'll walk you through upgrading or installing the latest release.

  • Installing Ubuntu 16.04

    Ubuntu 16.04 offers almost no changes to the installation process. But, in case you are new to Ubuntu, we'll walk you through upgrading or installing the latest release.