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Encrypton tools: PGPdisk™

What is PGPdisk™?

PGPdisk is an easy-to-use encryption application that enables you to set aside an area of disk space for storing your sensitive data. This reserved space is used to create a file called a PGPdisk volume.

Although it is a single file, a PGPdisk volume acts very much like a hard disk in that it provides storage space for your files and applications. You can think of it like a floppy disk or an external hard disk. To use the applications and files stored in the volume, you mount it, or make it accessible to you.

When a PGPdisk volume is mounted, you can use it as you would any other disk. You can install applications within the volume or move or save your files to the volume. When the volume is unmounted it is inaccessible to anyone who does not know your secret passphrase, which is a longer version of a password. Even a mounted volume is protected: unless a file or application is in use, it is stored in encrypted format. If your computer should crash while a volume is mounted, the volume’s contents remain encrypted.

The PGPdisk program:

• Allows you to create secure volumes of encrypted data which function just like any other volumes you are accustomed to using for storing your files.

• Provides fast and secure encryption of your data with minimal impact on the amount of time it takes to access your programs and files.

• Uses a strong, military-grade encryption algorithm known as CAST, which has a solid reputation for its ability to withstand unauthorized access.

• Stores the contents of each secure volume in an encrypted file which can easily be backed up and exchanged with colleagues.

While other products offer the ability to restrict access to disk files through permission attributes and simple password protection, these safeguards can easily be breached by those truly intent on examining your data. Only by encrypting your data can you rest assured that even with the most sophisticated technologies known today, it is nearly impossible for anyone to decipher the content of your files.

Here are a few reasons to use PGPdisk to secure the contents of your files:

• To protect sensitive financial, medical and personal information that you simply do not want others to have access to. This is particularly important in today’s networked environment where information on your personal computer is exposed to the world while you are surfing the net.

• To set up personal work areas on a shared machine where each user is guaranteed exclusive access to his or her own programs and files. Each user can mount his or her own volumes while using the machine and then rest assured that nobody else can access the files once the volumes are unmounted.

• To create volumes of material that are accessible only to designated members of a given workgroup. A volume can be mounted when members of the team want to work on a given project and can then be unmounted and stored in its encrypted format when they are finished.

• To prevent someone from gaining access to proprietary information stored on a notebook computer. In general, if you lose your notebook (or someone steals it), all of your personal information (including access and passwords to on-line services, business and personal contacts, financial records, and so on), are subject to misuse by those with criminal intent and could end up costing more than the price of the missing notebook.

• To secure the contents of external media such as floppy disks and storage cartridges. The ability to encrypt external media provides an added level of security for storing and exchanging sensitive information.

adapted by Rafal Swiecki, p. eng. email
November, 2004
This document is in the public domain.

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