Security

How to encrypt a USB flash drive with GNOME Disks

If you use Linux and need an easy method of encrypting data on your USB drives, GNOME Disks has you covered.

Security is tantamount to keeping your data safe. We jump through all kinds of hoops to ensure that information is secure from prying eyes. From the Linux desktop, there are many ways to make this happen.

I want to walk you through the process of doing just that with the help of the GNOME Disks. Thanks to this very powerful GUI tool, you won't have to work from the command line in order to encrypt USB flash drives that may contain sensitive data.

I will demonstrate how to install the necessary tools and then how to encrypt a USB drive, using only GNOME Disks. I will work with the Elementary OS distribution, but the encryption process is the same using any distribution that GNOME Disks can be installed on.

SEE: Encryption policy (Tech Pro Research)

Installation

First, you must install two tools. To do this, open a terminal window and issue the command:

sudo apt-get install gnome-disk-utility cryptsetup -y

Once that command completes, you are ready to work.

Encrypting the USB drive

Plug a USB drive into your machine, and then open the GNOME Disks from the desktop menu. When the tool opens, locate and select the USB drive in question (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

The USB drive has been selected.


If the drive in question is mounted, you'll see a square icon under the Volumes section. If you see that, click the square to unmount the drive. Once it is unmounted, click on the gears icon. From the pop-up menu (Figure B), select Format Partition.

Figure B

Figure B

The GNOME Disks Utility format menu.


In the resulting window (Figure C), you'll want to configure the options as needed, however, make sure to select Encrypted from the Type drop-down, and type/confirm the passphrase to be used for the encryption.

Figure C

Figure C

Configuring the encrypted drive.


Once you've taken care of the configuration, click the Format button. You will then be asked to verify that you want to continue with the process (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

Confirming the encryption.


Click Format and the encryption will begin.

When the process completes, you can then remove the drive. The next time you plug it into the system, you will be required to enter the passphrase you created during the encryption. Without that passphrase, the drive will not mount, and the data cannot be accessed.

Simplified USB encryption

You won't find an easier method of encrypting a USB drive on Linux. Thanks to GNOME Disks, anyone can enjoy the security of encrypting their flash drives on Linux. Give this a try and see if it doesn't make securing your USB data significantly easier.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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