| By Fred Langa |
Free encryption software lets you use the first 1,024 characters of any file you choose as a gigantic password.
But using keyfiles carries special dangers you need to be aware of — or risk locking yourself out of your own data forever!
Using keyfiles as enormous passwords
Reader Charlie Cohen uses the first 1K (1,024) characters of an MP3 file as a very long password that he doesn’t have to remember.
- “Want a secure password you can’t lose for your encrypted data? Use a keyfile instead of a password. With TrueCrypt, for example, you can pick any file you want, and the first 1,024 characters will be used for the password.
“For instance, you might pick a song on iTunes that you know will always be there, like a particular Beatles song or whatever. Download it if you don’t already have it, and put it in your music files. When you’re ready to decrypt and mount your secure volume, just browse to the song and click. Even the FBI wouldn’t be able to figure that one out.
“If your house burns down, computer is stolen, etc., you can always go to iTunes and re-download the song (or take it off your iPod); with your backups, you’re back in business.”
TrueCrypt (site) is an excellent (and free!) tool for on-the-fly encryption of files, partitions, or whole disks.
TrueCrypt’s ability to use part of a designated keyfile as a long password is very clever. But there are some gotchas with using a keyfile in the way you suggest, Charlie.