Data security is of utmost importance today with the influx of data breach attempts. Your sensitive data can be used against you if it lands in the wrong hands and when it comes to USB devices, you can simply lose the device and risk having your data compromised. Thus, it is really important to encrypt your data.
When it comes to encrypting data on your USB peripherals, you have four main options. You can either encrypt each document individually using document processing programs or encrypt the entire external hard drive using the encryption system built into your device's operating system.
Alternatively, you can use a third-party encryption service to encrypt files or your hard drive. For instance: USB Security,
to know more. And finally, you can use a hardware-encrypted external hard drive.
I am going to discuss the pros and cons of each approach in more detail below. With the exception of hardware-encrypted USB peripherals, all of these encryption systems work on the premise that your document or flash drive cannot be accessed without entering the correct password.
If you are specifically looking for encrypted documents or text files, you can use common document processing software such as Adobe and Microsoft Word to encrypt your files directly. No one will be able to access the content of these individual documents without entering a pre-set password.
If you want to encrypt your entire flash drive or USB peripherals, most modern operating systems have pre-existing encryption tools that give you this option. For example, you can use BitLocker on Windows, FileVault on Mac, or LUKS on Linux to encrypt your flash drive.
The only limitation of this type of encryption is that it will not work on operating systems. If you encrypt your flash drive with BitLocker, you cannot use it on a macOS device unless you have the corresponding software installed for the respective platform. To view files encrypted by BitLocker on mac, you need to install a separate program.
Another way to encrypt your data is to use third-party encryption software. Both VeraCrypt and AESCrypt offer AES-256 encryption, an industry standard for security.
Both of these solutions are free and open-source software (or, in the case of VeraCrypt, open-source software), which is important because it allows you to verify that a program does exactly that by looking at its source code.
One key difference is that VeraCrypt is used to encrypt entire USB peripherals (as well as your device's hard drive), while AES Crypt is used to encrypt individual files.
This makes AES Crypt ideal for encrypting documents that are stored in non-end-to-end encrypted cloud storage services (such as Dropbox or Google Drive).
However, you can still encrypt individual files and store them on your flash drive. These tools can sometimes be platform-specific, so you'll need to make sure you know where you want to access your data before proceeding to encrypt it.
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