One way to secure your data is to encrypt your /home partition. Please note that you must backup your data to another disk before trying this. If you don't you will have no data left. I use Ubuntu as my operating system but the basics will be the same for other distro's as well. If you have any questions please contact me before you begin. In this setup I encrypt the whole /home partition and use a USB Flash Drive to store the password on. I've used this type of encryption for a few years no without any problems but s##t can happen.
You need a separate partition for your /home directory. I'll use /dev/sda3 in this setup. To encrypt the partition follow these steps:
The easiest way to do this is to reboot into recovery mode and unmount /home
Remove the line that mounts the /home partition from /etc/fstab
Add cryptoloop to /etc/modules on a separate line (This will enable you to use loopback encryption)
Now to encrypt the partition run as root:
losetup -e blowfish /dev/loop0 /dev/sda3
and enter the password you want to use for the encryption. You can also use twofish, aes or any other sypher for encryption. Next you need to make a filesystem on the partition:
You can use any type of filesystem. Now mount the encrypted partition:
mount /dev/loop0 /home
Create your user directory:
Change ownership of the directory:
chown yourusername:yourusername /home/yourusername
Next you need to make some changes to /etc/rc.local so the partition is mounted during boot. Add the following above the exit 0 line:
/bin/mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt
/bin/cat /mnt/yourpasswordfilename | /sbin/losetup -e blowfish --pass-fd=0 /dev/loop0 /dev/sda3
/bin/mount /dev/loop0 /home
Save the file and close it. In the above example /dev/sdb1 is the USB Flash Drive. Change it to whatever it is supposed to be. Next you need to save the password to a file on your flash drive. Mount the drive and create a new file with the same filename that you've used above for yourpasswordfilename. Type the password that you've used to setup the encryption into the file. Save and close the file. Make sure there are no extra spaces in the file otherwise the password will be wrong.
Now you can reboot (into recovery mode again) and check if the encryption is working. Type mount and you should see the following line if everything is OK:
/dev/loop0 on /home type ext3 (rw)
Make sure that you see the /home/lost+found and /home/yourusername directories. If you do then the setup was a success. Reboot again with the USB Flash Drive plugged in and log into your user account. Copy some files from your backup and reboot once more just to make sure it is all working. If you don't plug the USB Flash Drive in during boot you should not see all the files you just copied.
If you don't see it make sure your USB Flash Drive is unmounted and run /etc/rc.local .If you get a message that you need to specify a filesystem type then your password is wrong. The quickest way to solve it is to uncomment the last two lines in /etc/rc.local .Make sure the USB Flash Drive is not mounted and run losetup -d /dev/loop0 to remove the loopback device. Run /etc/rc.local again and make a filesystem on /dev/loop0 once more. Follow the steps earlier to mount it and create you /home/yourusername directory again. Uncomment the last two lines in /etc/rc.local again and reboot.
That is more or less what it takes to complete the setup. If you want to see all your files just have the USB Flash Drive plugged in when you boot the computer. Please make a backup of the password file (especially if you use a very long password) and keep it in a safe somewhere. if you need more info please feel free to contact me and I'll do my best to help. Also remember that you follow these instructions at your own risk and I'm not responsible if anything goes wrong.
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