Secure Smart Working with VeraCrypt

Smart working has never been more popular. Even if it’s been out of a temporary necessity, it doesn’t seem to rollback anytime soon.

But, when it comes to working with confidential data remotely, a lot of privacy and security problems arise. Some modern and organized companies, with efficient IT departments, were already prepared to face this challenge, but the vast majority is not. So, if no other efficient tool is available or mandatory in your situation, VeraCrypt can help in uncharted territory. Not to mention that it’s a great tool for private use also.

The premise is that you are allowed by the company policies to keep certain data with you, which is apparently obvious, when it comes to smart working, but don’t take this for granted. We all know that those policies do not always cover all the cases, with all the risks that we can easily imagine. So, using a secure tool is extra welcome safety.

Before you start wondering, VeraCrypt (based on the discontinued but great TrueCrypt) is absolutely free. It’s open-source. For Windows, Mac, and Linux.

In short, it allows you to create a single file, encrypted, which is seen as a drive, exactly like a USB drive. You open that file, create/edit any folder/file you want inside it, you close it, and nobody can peep in, even if the container file is stolen.

Now, a bit of background.

If your company already provides you with a secure solution, like a VPN, you’ve not the problem, at least for the official and consolidated part of your data and, likely, while you’re connected. But if this is not the case, or doesn’t cover all of your use cases, you’re left with two options: the cloud or local copies.

The cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, …) is popular and great for collaboration, but when it comes to sensitive data or particular industries, it could not be a viable option. Also, most popular cloud services are designed for security in the storage of the data on the server, and the communication with the client, but security on your PC is delegated to you.

Local copies, besides the obvious problems of duplication and collaboration, have similar issues, even if they don’t have copies in the cloud. If those data are confidential, you need private and secure portable storage.

Some tools let you encrypt/decrypt files, one by one, or in groups. But they may not be as practical as they seem. Also, the files may still be someway visible, at least in their name, or remain indefinitely visible if you forget to encrypt them back after working on them.

Enters VeraCrypt.

Only one file, encrypted. You can keep that single container file on your hard disk, or a USB drive or pen.

You open it with VeraCrypt (by just clicking on it and little more, then providing a password), and a virtual volume is added to your PC resources, which behaves exactly like a USB drive.

Now, the files in that drive can be viewed, edited, and managed precisely as if they were not encrypted. Except that they’re still physically encrypted, inside the container file, the whole time.

VeraCrypt in action

If you’re at work, you get the files you worked on during your last smart working session and then put in it all the files you want for the next session.

At home (or park, mountain, boat, whatever), you open the container file (“mount” the virtual volume) and work on the files in it. When you’re done, you just “dismount” the drive, and all of your files stored in the VeraCrypt container file, without exceptions, become inaccessible without the password.

Do you forget to dismount? After a configurable timeout, VeraCrypt does it for you, and that’s key for the security of your data.

Of course, the complexity of your password is essential for real security, but the same would be for any other tool, unless you’ve been provided with devices like smartcards, tokens, and so on.

A tutorial, with step-by-step instructions on how to create, mount, and use a VeraCrypt volume, is available on the VeraCrypt website. It’s easier than it seems.

Of course, the use of VeraCrypt can go beyond smart working. You can use it for any confidential data, be it professional or private. It’s worth investing some minute in giving it a try.