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How to: simple security with Easy Crypt

December 1, 2007

easycrypt-logo

Add some secret ninja power to your Ubuntu system today with Easy Crypt. With only a right click you can open or close a ‘top secret’ file, protected by military grade encryption (AES 512-bit Whirlpool). Easy Crypt is a cute little menu which brings the power of TrueCrypt to your system tray. No terminal commands necessary.

If you produce or store any personal data on your desktop or notebook that needs privacy, you should set this up (himmm… that’s just about everyone, isn’t it?). It takes only a few minutes and just might save you from financial fraud, divorce, or getting fired. If ever your notebook is lost or home robbed, you’ll be wishing you had secured those precious files. TrueCrypt creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk. The encrypted file system is cross compatible with Linux and Windows, which is advantageous for both portability, and file recovery in case of a system crash. TrueCrypt has been around for a few years, but lacked an easy to use graphical interface on Linux until recent (a slightly more complex GUI is forcefield). I tried using TrueCrypt on Ubuntu in the past, but found it annoying to be entering terminal commands several times a day to access the encrypted file. I find Easy Crypt to be a speedy, practical, and easy to use interface on a daily basis.easycrypt menu

With the basic Easy Crypt setup, your locked files are saved as a hidden file in your user directory, located at /home/username/.easycrypt-crypt (although using the ‘expert’ mode you can choose to use a crypt saved at any location, including a usb key).

What I like about using Easy Crypt, not only is it easy to set up and use, but it’s simple to frequently make a backup copy on a CD-RW or DVD-RW on a regular basis. Just drag and drop the file. You may however wish to rename the backup file to something less descriptive than ‘.easycrypt-crypt’.

You can keep a copy of your important personal documents on CD (insurance documentation, financial spreadsheets, and so on) at another location than your home, in case of fire. Keep it at work, or another family member’s house. If anyone takes the CD and tries to open the files, you can be confident it’s secure.

Easycrypt Setup:

You’ll be finished this easy 5 step setup in less than 5 minutes. For the current version (0.2.1.16), here’s what to do:

1) Launch Synaptic and enter the following repository:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/stevenharperuk/ubuntu feisty main restricted universe multiverse

Click reload and search for ‘truecrypt'; mark both truecrypt and easycrypt packages for installation, then apply, and quit Synaptic. (If you don’t know how to use Synaptic Package Manager, the author has posted some installation instructions on his website here. You could also just instead install the .deb file from the author’s website, but this way it will also auto-update to newer versions in the future. )

2) Next, find Easy Crypt in your Applications –> Accessories menu, then run it. The icon will show in your system tray; right click to bring up the menu. You may wish to set the preferences to ‘auto start’ on login so it will always remain in the system tray.

easycrypt setup

3) If you’ve never used it (or TrueCrypt) before, you’ll need to create a new crypt. Click ‘recreate crypt’, and it will come up with a warning about “destroy the contents–are you sure?”. Since this is our first crypt, this doesn’t apply to us, so click yes.

4) Choose a good password, better yet use a good passphrase. The more random the better. But make sure you remember it well– once you’ve locked yourself out, the information you’ve saved is as good as gone. Try using 7 or more characters mixed with various case letters and numbers. Make up an acronym to help yourself remember, for example “1mnstB4n” could mean “one must not spill the BEANS for now”. If you’re worried you’ll forget it, you could write it down and keep that in a safe place… treat it like your house key…. just don’t write what it’s for beside it!

5) Choose your file system size. If you’re planning on frequent backing up on CD-RW you should choose 700MB. For a DVD (-R / +R / +RW / -RW) sized file, use 4480MB (I understand all DVD media will hold up to this size). I find using the keyboard arrow keys easier to get it exact. Click new to start generating the encrypted file system and wait a few minutes until it’s done. It takes about 3 minutes on my Pentium 4 system to make a 4480MB sized crypt.
easycrypt password

Now your encrypted file system is set up! Using it daily is easy peasy. With a mere mouse click on the Easy Crypt logo, the password entry window pops up. You enter your pass and the file system appears as a drive mounted on the desktop. You might consider making a ‘Places bookmark’ in your nautilus side pane for convenience. Start copying those important files over to your encrypted file system now! Be sure to always close crypt when finished, and make burn your backup after you’ve copied a bunch of new files over to it.

It’s some good kung fu for you and looks like Easy Crypt has a bright future in Ubuntu. It will become included in the upcoming Ubuntu release 8.04. Kudos to Steven Harper for coding this lovely gem! For further discussion, the main Easy Crypt thread on Ubuntuforums.org is located here.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Easy Kill permalink
    December 3, 2007 7:03 pm

    Maybe I’m just not doing something right but when I try to create a crypt volume I can’t create anything larger than 2000MB, despite the fact that I have 15GB free. Also, at the completion of creating the volume I get an error that incorrect password is entered.

    I have used truecrypt for quite some time and have little problem creating volumes and using simple aliases to simplify mounting and umounting of volumes. I like the idea of this but so far I’ve had less trouble typing a few commands than I have trying to use easycrypt.

    Also, I don’t like the lack of configuration options easycrypt gives you. I’d like it more if the configuration panel gave you more than normal/expert modes that seem to make little difference (creating versus recreating volume).

    This seems like a nice polished app, but the functionality is too limited for me to use it to replace the terminal functions of truecrypt.

    just my opinion.

  2. dimeotane permalink
    December 3, 2007 8:38 pm

    Check out forcefield for an alternative GUI. I haven’t tried it yet, but would love to know your opinion on it. You should share your comments on the Ubuntuforums thread or email the creator Steven Harper, he appears quite open to suggestions.

  3. Easy Kill permalink
    December 3, 2007 9:53 pm

    I’ve used forcefield in the past, it is far more configurable than easycrypt. My complaint with it was it wouldn’t reliably create volumes larger than 2GB.

    This was about 6 months ago so I decided to try it again, it didn’t work well for me. I kept getting an “OverflowError: long int too large to convert to float”

    On easycrypt, I looked at .easycrypt.conf thinking maybe it would have more config options but it doesn’t. If you find any similar experience/solutions I’d be interested.

    Also, if you try forcefield I wouldn’t let it adjust the sudo options for you – I’ve read it can cause some problems.

  4. @#@# permalink
    December 5, 2007 2:08 am

    mwahaha : “protected by military grade encryption”

  5. December 6, 2007 8:49 am

    You can make Crypts greater than 2GB, you cannot create files greater than 2GB on Fat file systems. Try Creating a crypt on an NTFS or EXT3 partition instead.

  6. Idetrorce permalink
    December 15, 2007 6:27 am

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  7. December 24, 2007 7:17 am

    Very nice app – thanks Steven! Seems like the current version (0.2.2.1) doesn’t allow for hidden volumes, though? That would be a nice addition assuming I’m not just missing it somewhere.

  8. February 12, 2008 7:31 pm

    This application has really helped me, thank you!

  9. benux permalink
    April 26, 2008 8:03 pm

    @Easy Kill: I’m having the same problem as you (can’t create crypts larger than 2GB). I had no problem doing this until I upgraded to Hardy. Anybody have any idea what’s going on? And no I’m not trying to create them with FAT file systems, I’m using EXT3.

  10. Thierry B. permalink
    April 29, 2009 11:44 am

    Hi,

    Has easycrypt any interest now that Treucrypt has a GUI?

  11. dimeotane permalink
    July 23, 2009 3:08 pm

    Thierry, thats a good point. Since I wrote the entry, Truecrypt has come out with a gui and easycrypt took a while to update the task bar app to be compatible with the newest version. So I stopped using it for a while. An announcement 2008-11-08: Truecrypt 6.x – 6.1 now supported. I’ll take another look sometime soon!

  12. sandrar permalink
    September 10, 2009 7:44 am

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  13. alex permalink
    October 7, 2010 11:32 am

    Compliments for your blog.

    ……… i’m sorry but the comment to truecrypt is broken “you have one more ‘C’ in the domain suffix”.

    uvula thanks for the information and the details of the crypt.

    Bye Alex

  14. Glen permalink
    October 30, 2010 12:13 pm

    Anyone know how i can use truecrypt/easycrypt in Ubuntu to open a crypt file on a network samba share.
    even though i’ve set up bookmarks ot my network shares in the file manager, in easycrypt i can only see local files and folders

  15. March 15, 2013 7:06 am

    What’s up to all, the contents existing at this web page are genuinely amazing for people knowledge, well, keep up the nice work fellows.

Trackbacks

  1. [HowTo] Seguridad f├ícil en Ubuntu Linux con Easy Crypt [Ing] // menéame
  2. Using TrueCrypt to protect your data - masuran.org

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