Password Protection for Portable Drives
By J.D. BIERSDORFER
Question: Can the data on a U.S.B. flash drive be password-protected?
Answer: Those tiny flash-memory drives that plug into a computer's U.S.B. port are great for hauling large files between computers — but can cause worry if they get lost while storing sensitive information. Anyone who finds an unprotected portable drive could plug it into a computer and browse the files stored on it.
Many new U.S.B. drives, including those made by Verbatim, SanDisk, Kingston and Lexar, include security software to encrypt stored files, and require a password to view data on the drive. (Most of these included programs are for Windows.)
If you already have a U.S.B. drive and want to keep your files safe from anyone who may accidentally stumble across it, you can find encryption programs for external and portable drives around the Web. One free option includes TrueCrypt (www.truecrypt.org) for Windows and Linux systems, and there are plenty of commercial programs available.
VersionTracker (www.versiontracker.com), a site that lists thousands of programs and software updates for Windows, Macintosh and Palm hand-held systems, also has plenty of file-encryption and data-security programs to browse.