Learn how to encrypt your data and keep it private

Slashdot it! Delicious Share on Facebook Tweet! Digg!
limbi007, 123RF.com

limbi007, 123RF.com

Encryption is Easy

You don't have to be paranoid to realise that there is a war on privacy. Unless you protect yourself you have a lot to lose. Ubuntu and the stories in the Features section of this issue can help you beef up your defences.

I know the CEO of a company that, when he travels, the moment he leaves the building, the data on his laptop gets automatically scrambled. He doesn't know the password to decipher his data, and he cannot get it from the person who does know (a person who remains behind, safe in the company's headquarters) until he is safely settled in at his hotel at his destination.

You may think this is beyond paranoid, but, firstly, it is quite clear he read the XKCD comic Security [1]. Secondly, you must know that the differentiating business model of his company is that they offer security and privacy to his clients data over all else. If he is detained at an airport, he cannot provide access to his laptop (which could give access to the company's network via VPN) even if they did "beat him with a wrench." He cannot even show them the files on his machine's hard disk. If he is carrying around anything, an invoice, an email, that would indicate that, say, a whistleblower were using the services of his company, nobody would ever be the wiser.

You may think this is overkill, but everybody carries around precious data with them. How much do you value the files on your corporate laptop? How comfortable would you be with a stranger flipping through your personal photos of your family and the information of your contacts? Of course, it is not only airport security officials you should worry about. What would happen with your company if your laptop were stolen and all your files shared with a competitor? These are things that happen every day, and if you travel a lot, you are entering a lottery of it happening to you.

Even if you don't travel, your files are at risk. All networks connected to the Internet are vulnerable to some degree. If it is data that a cracker is after, your last line of defense is a bunch of scrambled files that are useless without the key.

The good news is that encryption is not as hard to implement as you may think. Quite the contrary: With the articles in this issue's Features section, you can get encrypting files, partitions, or whole hard disks literally in minutes. All Linux distributions come with software that provides military-grade encryption, and the better news is that you also get friendly graphical front ends, applications you can use from the desktop, that will allow you to jumble the contents of your hard drive with assistants that will guide you step-by-step.

With a secure password and a strong encryption, you will not have to worry about anybody gaining unauthorized access to your stuff ever again.

As we are on the topic of encrypting, don't forget to take a look at the instant messaging and videoconferencing article on page 76. We tested six messaging and conferencing applications that encrypt your messages, and some of them even bypass a central server, making it unnecessary to register. These apps are your gateway to secure and truly private communication if ever there was one!


  1. XKCD, Security : https://xkcd.com/538/

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF

Pages: 1

Price $0.99
(incl. VAT)

Buy Ubuntu User

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • Protecting your private data from intruders

    You don't have to be a criminal to want to preserve your privacy. Fortunately, Ubuntu, and the Open Source community provide ways to keep snoopers at bay.

  • Welcome

    The title of this issue's Editorial section is a shameless rip-off of a section that used to run in Omni, the influential and very cool 80s magazine of "Science Fiction, Fact, and Fantasy." The section in Omni talked about advances in science and technology and where they would lead us. The title played on the actual verbal tense – the word "will" was used a lot in the articles, and the fact that, well, it was about the future.

  • Encrypting email with GnuPG

    US intelligence agencies tap into billions of call data and electronic messages monthly – reason enough to consider encrypting your email traffic.

  • Encrypting flash drives with UsbCryptFormat

    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.

  • 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.