How to encrypt your hard drive, and why you should


How to encrypt your hard drive, and why you should

Encryption…? What is that? “Encryption is the process of encoding messages in such a way that eavesdroppers cannot read it, but that authorized parties can.” Now this may sound like some mumbo jumbo, but cryptography/encrypting data is extremely important. Encrypting data has a lot of benefits, and really no downsides. Encrypting your data can save a lot of time, worry, and save a lot of private data from possibly getting leaked.

What is this encryption?

Encryption essentially is mixing up your data to appear as if it is something else. Lets say you encrypt your internet connection via a VPN, what you are doing is mixing up the data. When you don’t encrypt your data and go on, you internet provider can see that. When you are encrypting your internet connection, and go to, your internet provider will see “dsf4d65” while you still see Encrypting your data is making it appear as something else/cloaking it, while you can actually see it. So, encrypting is essentially creating a fake set of data for someone else to view, while you keep your real data safe.

Why do I need this?

There is always the “I have nothing to hide, why should I care?” attitude. But encrypting your data is a very serious and necessary practice. I will try to stay on the topic of hard drive encryption, but internet encryption relates to this.  A simple question I would ask someone who does not care, is “Do you want your banking information going over the internet unencrypted?”. Do you want hackers, your internet provider, and any average Joe begin able seeing this data? Probably not. When you are banking that is heavily sensitive data. The banking sites almost always offer https:// which is a free encryption method that the site pays for but you don’t. Amazon, eBay, Yahoo and big companies that handle highly sensitive data will most likely always offer this. It prevents hackers from stealing your data while its going through the internet. But, encrypting your hard drive can virtually be the same thing. Encrypting your hard drive can protect your data from hackers, personal theft, and make your data almost untouchable. Encrypting your hard drive jumbles up all your data. It makes your data look virtually nonexistent if even data. To top it off it locks it all down with a password. When your computer is turned off, your computer is a jumbled mess of unbelievable data. When you turn your computer on, you will be prompted with a screen asking you to input your password. You will enter the password you set, and your computer will turn on normally again. The data appears jumbled from the outside now, but you are on the inside, and can use the computer like normal. How can this actually protect me? Well, if a thief steals your computer at an airport, from your home, or gets his hands on it. They can easily crack the hibernation/sleep password, and see all your data. They can even just take the hard drive out, plug it in elsewhere, and extract the data no password needed. All your pictures, passwords, logins, and everything else that is important to you. If it is encrypted they will have to sit at the boot screen and try and crack the hashes, and/or passwords repetitively. If they unplugged it, they will have to mount the hard drive with the right encryption program (this could take years to find which software you used), then they will have to sit and try and crack the password again. It would be a never ending battle for the thief, and they would probably eventually give up, or wipe the hard drive. Another way a thief can get your data is through the wireless realm. Believe it or not, but someone can swipe your data while you just walk bye. Google is one of the biggest hackers and thief’s. Google actually has cars that drive around and grab your data going over the net. How long will it be before they come up with a car to grab your hard drive data? If you encrypt your hard drive the wireless hackers will get keys, hashes, and all sorts of mumbo jumbo. It would not be worth it for them to crack it when they can just get the next persons data. Another way this can help is if your computer is seized. With all the illegal raids the government has been doing on innocent citizens it is almost necessary that you encrypt your data. When they raid your home they will seize almost all electronics as “evidence”. It is completely bogus and against the law for them to do perform acts like these. But as you all know, the government is above their own laws these days. If you have private data what will stop them from putting it on a thumb drive and reading it at home. What will stop them from using the data on your hard drive against you? Nothing! A semi-new law it out that says you can spend up to TWO YEARS in jail if you refuse to decrypt you hard drive for law enforcement. It is almost unreal what these criminals will do to get your data. They stop at nothing. Even if you just watched cat videos on the internet, I would not recommend surrendering. Hundreds of people have been caught “laundering drugs and child porn” online. When in fact they have never done any of that. Some law enforcement agencies will plant data on your computer and frame you for it. Obviously the court will believe the criminal scum, and not the innocent citizen. Encrypting your hard drive is vital.

All this sounds great but really hard! How do I encrypt my hard drive?

Encrypting your hard drive is simple. All of these great features and its really simple? Yep! Cryptography has been around since the internet started.  Cryptophiles have made encryption and decryption grossly simple. One of the best programs on the encryption market is TrueCrypt. It is a universal platform meaning it works for Linux, Windows, and Mac OSX. The great thing about TrueCrypt is it is 100% free. TrueCrypt has great features, and it is free. A brief rundown of some of the features, they have no master key. This means if you loose your password, its gone. They don’t have any keys that are universal that will unlock drives. A lot of companies that pay for encryption programs like to have a universal password, so if a co worker looses their password, all their data isn’t gone. They can just type in a password that will always work even if it isn’t that co workers password. But TrueCrypt has no universal password. Your password is stored in your ram keys, so not a single person can see it, or find it. TrueCrypt has  a simple install process. And TrueCrypt is overall great in my eyes. Just download the program, and run it. You will want to click system, and then “Encrypt System/Partition Drive…” Choose the encrypt full disk method, and continue. Choose what algorithms you want (doesn’t really matter, just make sure SHA-512 is in the mix). Choose your pass amount (One is the fastest, but not as safe. 35 passes is the safest but can take up to two weeks. One will do fine for average users.), and then continue. It will ask you for a password. Now DO NOT use a weak password. Do not use Name1990, or Name14. Choose a very strong and secure password. You do not want someone breaking into your computer unwillingly. Choose something like NameMycoMputer;14569. Try to use character symbols [email protected]#$%^&*()_+}{:”<> and try to use dIffErent CapItal LetTerS. This will make cracking your password a lot harder. TrueCrypt can take up to a 200 character password, so get typing! Once that is done you will have to enter a blank disk, or something of some sort. This is just in case something goes wrong during the encryption process, so you can revert back to your unencrypted state safely. Once done, you will have to restart. Restart, type in your password if it asks, and then the process will commence. You are a step ahead of the game now. This can take some time. Make sure your computer does not fall asleep during this process. Set your computer to stay awake for hours, or to never sleep while this process is going. Once it is done, restart and type in your password. There you go, you are done encrypting. Every time you restart your computer (fully powered off, not sleep mode), you will have to type in that lengthy secure password you created. Don’t loose it!


Overall you choose whats important. Your work data, essays, pictures unsecured, or encryption? Its an easy answer for me. Always encrypt all your drives. Even external drives. Encryption is extremely important, and some are labeled crazy who don’t encrypt. Encryption scares law enforcement agencies because it shows that the internet is going dark. When the criminal scum don’t get what they want, they start to get scared, and think others might be smart and follow along. Be smart, and choose what you want.

Brandon Stosh
Owner, and writer for a site dedicated to defending your digital liberties, and helping you stay safe and secure online. Collective of other bloggers and knowledge as well.