Securing data on flash drive


In response to Dean Ab-Hugh’s query in his letter titled “Paperwork on Flash Drive. Good Idea?” (July ’06, pg. 88), yes, my wife and I have traveled with flash drives containing scans of our passports and files containing our itineraries, important phone numbers, etc. It’s a great way to have everything at hand in something easily concealable and unlikely to be stolen.

For a measure of security, however, I would recommend securing your files in some way. There are many possibilities.

For example, you can encrypt plain-text files (like those that Windows Notepad uses) with LockNote or fSekrit. Image files (like scans of your passport and tickets) could be carried as PDF files, which can also be secured. If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat to create the file, there are online resources that will encrypt the file for you.
Be sure to include the necessary decrypting application on the flash drive as well! And for reading the PDFs (Macs can do so out-of-the-box, but a random Windows computer might not be able to), include the free application Foxit Reader (www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/rd_intro.php).

Lifehacker.com has an excellent article on smart ways to carry around important data on flash drives. Visit http://lifehacker.com/software/top/geek-to-live-carry-your-life-on-a-thumb-drive-or-ipod--179025.php.
A more high-tech solution, of course, would be to get one of the self-encrypting flash drives (some of them use fingerprint readers to help secure them), but a simpler model might be more likely to work in a random computer at an Internet café.

JAIME ONDRUSEK
Redmond, WA