14 thoughts on “Weekend Hacker: Make A Secret Encrypted Drive

  1. Pingback: Hide Your Most Private Files In A Secret Encrypted Volume | Lifehacker Australia

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  3. Mark says:

    This video is OK as far as it goes, but there’s a little bit more you have to know about setting up a hidden volume.

    When you have a TrueCrypt vault which has a hidden volume, you’re not supposed to use the outer volume in any serious way.

    Here’s why: Suppose you create a 5 GB TrueCrypt vault, and within it you create a 3 GB hidden volume. When the outer volume is mounted, even TrueCrypt itself doesn’t realize that there is a hidden volume. TrueCrypt thinks the entire 5 GB is available to store files. If you start piling files into the outer volume, at some point — when you exceed 2 GB worth of files — TrueCrypt is going to start blithely overwriting your hidden volume, and the data therein will be permanently lost.

    The idea with hidden volumes is that you’re supposed to use the outer volume only to store “decoy” files. That is, in the outer volume you might put a few tax returns, personal letters, etc. — documents that are just private enough that someone would believe that you might create a regular TrueCrypt vault to store those documents. Then you put the plans for the revolution inside the hidden volume.

    When the Palace Guards hold a gun to your head and demand that you enter the password for the TrueCrypt vault, as the video says, you enter the password for the outer volume. The guards see the tax returns and letters, and assume that’s all there is.

    The crucial nugget here is that it’s up to you to be careful that you don’t store too much data in the outer volume — in the example above (5 GB outer volume, 3 GB hidden volume) you must be very careful not to exceed 2 GB in the outer volume, or you’ll corrupt your hidden volume. The hidden volume is stored in the outer volume’s unused space, and if that unused space becomes used, there goes your hidden volume.

    To make sure that no one ever suspects the existence of a hidden volume, it’s important that the hidden volume not be too big. If the guards find a 100 GB TrueCrypt vault and see there there are only 6 MB used in the outer volume, then if they know their stuff they’re going to suspect a hidden volume, because nobody would create a 100 GB vault and only put 6 MB of data in it. Unfortunately, that means you’re going to have to waste some disk space. If you want to create an 80 GB hidden volume to store your revolutionary videos, then to maintain the illusion you’re going to need to create an outer volume of, say 140 GB, and load the outer volume with 50 GB or so of decoy files. When the guards make you unlock the 140 GB outer vault and find a very reasonable 50 GB of data therein, they’re more likely to accept that the remaining space is just for future expansion.

    Before you entrust your really sensitive data to a hidden volume, be sure to read the TrueCrypt documentation on hidden volumes so you understand how to make sure you don’t lose it accidentally.

    Hope this helps!

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