Carrying files on a flash drive is an easy method of transporting files to and from the office; BUT, did you ever stop and think; what the consequences would be if you lost the drive. Would you be exposing sensitive files and data to someone that found the drive that ultimately could come back to haunt you? Portable flash drives are small and can very easily lost or misplaced.
There are numerous methods available to encrypt files but most of the those methods can be time consuming, still can expose or give hints to the nature of the file data, and in most instances cannot be fully used on other PC’s due to limited access rights. As always, prior to transporting data to/from your home PC to another site (e.g. work), make sure you have permission to do so (e.g. consult with your network administrator).
I have experimented with many software utilities that will encrypt data on a drive to deter and prevent exposure of the data. If you do not know what encryption is, do not let the term scare you.
encryption is the process of transforming information (referred to as plaintext) using an algorithm (called cipher) to make it unreadable to anyone except those possessing special knowledge, usually referred to as a key. [ source: WikiPedia ]
An utility that I recently started to use and have been quite impressed with is called “FREE SafeHouse Explorer”. FREE Safehouse Explorer is a FREE (never expires) product that is offered by a company called PCDynamics, Inc. to promote their other commercial products and to promote the importance of data privacy.
FREE SafeHouse Explorer is initially installed on your PC, BUT there is a menu option in SafeHouse to copy the program to your flash drive or any external media. Once on your flash drive you will be prompted to create a volume storage area. The volume storage area can be any size up to 2000 Gigabytes… In my case I have an 8 Gig flash drive and I created a 2 Gig volume area to store my sensitive files. Once your volume has been created, the actual program on the flash drive, called “SafeHouse Explorer” is the program that you use to move, copy, and delete files in the protected volume; thus, it makes no difference if you have administrative access rights on the PC or not. Basically, in summary, the files that you intend on protecting are hidden inside this volume file that gives no hint of what the data may or could be. You can also backup these volume files; and to open them, you only need the “SafeHouse Explorer” program. SafeHouse Explorer is very similar to Windows Explorer in appearance and operation. There are many features to this program, requires a minimal learning curve, and in the end I feel comfortable with the protection if offers in the event my drive is lost or stolen.
SafeHouse Explorer In Action
SafeHouse Explorer makes your secret files invisible and hides them from snoopers, intruders and anyone else who doesn’t have your permission to view them.
SafeHouse Explorer uses passwords and maximum-strength 256-bit advanced encryption to completely hide and defend your sensitive files, including photos, videos, spreadsheets, databases and just about any other kind of file that you might have.
SafeHouse Explorer can protect files residing on any drive, including memory sticks, external USB drives, network servers, CD/DVDs and even iPods. Supports U3 Smart Drives.
SafeHouse Explorer creates hidden private storage areas on your local hard drive or external media to hold your confidential files. Your files are completely invisible until you enter your password. After you enter your secret password, you access your files using SafeHouse Explorer’s familiar drag-and-drop Explorer-like interface.