This is the latest in our series of articles highlighting essential system tools. These are small, indispensable utilities, useful for system administrators as well as regular users of Linux based systems. The series examines both graphical and text based open source utilities. For details of all tools in this series, please check the table at the summary page of this article.
For this article, we’ll look at VeraCrypt, free and open source cross-platform disk encryption software that builds on the discontinued TrueCrypt. There’s support for Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, and Windows. VeraCrypt adds enhanced security to the algorithms used for system and partitions encryption. It also resolves many vulnerabilities and security issues inherent in TrueCrypt together with a ton of modifications.
The software establishes and maintains an on-the-fly-encrypted volume (data storage device). On-the-fly encryption means that data is automatically encrypted immediately before it’s saved and decrypted immediately after it’s loaded, without any user intervention. No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password/keyfile(s) or correct encryption keys.
VeraCrypt treats an encrypted file as a virtual disk. Files can be copied to and from a mounted VeraCrypt volume just like they are copied to/from any normal disk. Files are automatically decrypted on the fly (in memory/RAM) while they are being read or copied from an encrypted VeraCrypt volume. Similarly, files that are being written or copied to the VeraCrypt volume are automatically being encrypted on the fly in RAM.
There are no extra memory (RAM) requirements for VeraCrypt.
If you want to compile and install the source code, download the latest bz2 file. But popular Linux distributions provide their own package.