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Password Protect External usb hard disk and keep it usable

How to Protect your backup

     
8:51 pm on Sep 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'd wish to be asked for a password when I plug my external hard disk (usb 2.0). I'ts practical to plug and enjoy but if somebody elses does it, will have access to my files there.
Saw may softwares out there like truecrypt or others, but the problem with those is:
1) they work for certain operating systems (so I will not be able to plug to windows 98 for instance)
2) you need the program to mount the disk or enter the password (so what happen when you plug to another pc?)

Is it possible to be asked for a password when connected the usb without loosing the practical side?

10:39 pm on Sept 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I don't know of anything like this. Though it suggests a few good product ideas. :)

In order for the password to be meaningful, the data on the disk has to be encrypted.

OK, not entirely true, as the data could be unencrypted, but access blocked in the hardware interface. This would allow recovery of data by taking extreme measures (removing the platters and installing in a different drive - as is commonly done by "data recovery" firms) but the average user would have no way to access the data.

Encryption could certainly be done in hardware.

The problem is how to have an operating-system independant way of providing the password. (In either case - whether the data is in fact encrypted or not.)

If the device were Ethernet-connected, rather than USB-connected, this is a slam-dunk: such a device could have an embedded web server. Before using the disk, you'd have to connect to the web server and provide the password.

The closest analog I can think of for USB is to provide a USB interface that looks like some generic type of USB device where the driver would normally be supplied by the OS - with no need for additional driver software. Maybe some very popular modem, etc.

Sorry I don't know of any specific product. I don't think it's an easy problem to solve, but it seems to me there might be some workarounds, and so some product might exist.

11:33 pm on Sept 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Seems this far the only thing is truecrypt.
5:44 am on Sept 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There is one way i've read from a reliable source. For OSX. You create a password protected disk image (dmg). This contains your backup, & you store the disk image on the external drive. This won't stop people from copying your dmg & hacking it later, but it will keep prying eys off. There is an equivalent for Windows. I think it's called an ISO (?). Whatever it's called there's even a freeware to convert them & dmgs back & forth. So on mac & windows this should be possible. I've never done this myself. I don't know if a 40 gig backup ,say, can be stored in a single dmg & accessed casually. But check it out. I think the 'taped archive' ,or tarball, on Unix i similar as well.
5:55 am on Sept 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Back in the old days we used to keep back up tapes and disks in a data safe. It was much easier ;)
9:27 am on Sept 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure if the encryption is done in hardware or software, but some USB flash drives come with encryption as standard.

I presume you plan to use it on XP. Unless you are happy with super-slow mode, that means formatting it with NTFS. NTFS supports encryption (but I've never tried it).

Kaled.

3:17 pm on Sept 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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USB flash drives that come with encryption do it with software. The encrypted data is not accessible on OSs for which the software isn't provided. (Typically, the software is only available for Windows - not Linux.)

I think your best bet it to find a software package that is supported on all of the platforms you need to access the data from.

I use a commercial product called BestCrypt. It does run on Windows 98, so I think that solves your problem. (It's also available for Linux.) Their new volume encryption product (haven't tried it) looks quite intriguing as well - it can encrypt everything including the bootable OS, and asks for a password before booting-up.

4:01 pm on Sept 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I am right now taking a backup onto USB disc of the source data/multimedia for my main site, and when done will physically take that USB drive across London for safe physical storage. Would require a fairly severe war/flood/etc to destroy it and the primary copy. Most modern machines (Windows/Mac/*nix) could retrieve the data.

Tampering on-line or off-line with that copy of the data will not be very easy either!

I do also have a data safe, in which I could keep this drive, and I do use data encryption in other circumstances (eg for sensitive data), but I like to physically spread my data out a bit!

So, the point is, what do you care about most out of easy access or security or range of machines able to read the data etc etc. That balance will constrain your solution and no single solution will be best for all of them,

Rgds

Damon

4:02 pm on Sept 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

I am right now taking a backup onto USB disc of the source data/multimedia for my main site, and when done will physically take that USB drive across London for safe physical storage. Would require a fairly severe war/flood/etc to destroy it and the primary copy. Most modern machines (Windows/Mac/*nix) could retrieve the data.

Tampering on-line or off-line with that copy of the data will not be very easy either!

I do also have a data safe, in which I could keep this drive, and I do use data encryption in other circumstances (eg for sensitive data), but I like to physically spread my data out a bit!

So, the point is, what do you care about most out of easy access or security or range of machines able to read the data etc etc. That balance will constrain your solution and no single solution will be best for all of them,

Rgds

Damon

6:46 pm on Sept 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Basically I'd be happy to work on 98/xp/vista.
I guess a folder hider would be ok and then move there all content of external drive...
11:20 pm on Sept 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Using a popular encryption technology like PGP should allow you to decrypt it on any computer, but yes you'll have to install PGP software. There are some out of the box solutions:
[pgp.com...]
Or you can just use standard PGP to encrypt the drive and then decrypt it 'manually' when you want.
Java is a nice option to, I'm using a java passwaord encryption program now and can access my encrypted password db on windows/linux/mac as long as java is installed. Maybe there's something out there for full disk encryption based on java but I couldn't find it.
4:29 am on Sept 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure I see the problems you'd have with TrueCrypt with the USB drive. According to their FAQ:
Create a TrueCrypt file container on the USB flash drive. If you leave enough space on the USB flash drive, you will also be able to store TrueCrypt on the USB flash drive and you will be able to run TrueCrypt from the USB flash drive

If you can run TrueCrypt off the USB a lot of your problems are solved...but I did notice you might need to run an older version of the software for Win98 compatibility. It might be worth it to check out their forums to see whether anyone has been successful interacting with Win98.
4:35 pm on Sept 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Sorry to jump on the bottom of this topic with a question of my own but I have looked around and cannot see the answer I need to this question.
I have a USB hard drive with music files on that I have ben asked to loan a 3rd party for the weekend, is there anyway that I can stop the information being coppied off the hard drive.

Thanks for any help.
Ian

4:50 pm on Sept 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Any file data that ia accessible can be copied. You might, in theory, be able to password-protect data that they do not need access to, but that's about all you can do.

Kaled.

5:14 pm on Sept 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the quick reply, It looks like I will not be loaning my hard drive then as I know they will copy all the songs on it.
6:39 pm on Sept 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

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LockNgo is exactly what you need. I use it all the time and I'm very happy with it. The program is stored on your usb drive so you can use it on any PC.