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Pre-Boot Encryption for a USB Flash Drive

Last response: in Windows XP
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October 30, 2009 2:42:45 PM

I have a USB Flash Drive that I customized with NLITE and WinSetupFromUSB so I can install a Windows XP SP3 image unattended.

That works, but now I would like to encrypt this so that when I boot the machine from this USB Flash drive, I just need to type in a password and proceed with the installation.

TrueCrypt is giving me issues, and I don't think it'll work out.

Any suggestions?
November 2, 2009 5:27:54 PM

Seriously? No one ever tried this?
August 22, 2011 7:43:34 PM

I have a similar situation:

I am a hardware technician and need to boot from an encrypted USB stick to keep software and client information away from prying eyes until I can put it on my server. How can I encrypt my flash drive so that it requires a password on boot and upon access from a workstation as well?

Does anyone have any suggestions?
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August 23, 2011 5:54:55 PM



Thank you for the response but it's still not quite what I am looking for. The software you suggested does not support boot-able devices.

I would like to boot, say Linux distro from my usb flash drive (like you would from a live CD) but it have a pre-boot security password for my flash drive so no one else can boot from it or access anything on said flash drive without the password. Basically I don't want people messing with my tools and\or information.

I am not sure that such software exists yet but, then again that's why I am asking.
August 30, 2011 2:24:44 PM

I don't know if you can decrypt a drive before you boot from it...

Its sort of a long work around, but perhaps set up 2 partitions on your USB drive, encrypt one partition and leave the other unencrypted. You would then have to put in a password to decrypt, transfer your tools to the regular partition, and restart.

I know its far from ideal, but I don't think there exists something like what you are talking about.

OH! Actually just had another idea! These aren't in production yet, but keep an eye on this page, and when they start producing these cryptex drives, you can keep all your tools and info safe the old fashioned way. :sol: 
August 30, 2011 3:23:04 PM

You can't encrypt the drive and try to boot from it. The boot process happens in the computer, not in the USB drive. It needs to be able to read the files on the USB drive to start to boot. When you encrypt the PC, the encryption software does the adjustments to the comuter hard-drive so when the boot sector is encrypted, the software can decrypt it. When the computer hits the encrypted file system on the USB stick, all it sees is garbage files because it has nothing in it that knows how to decrypt it. The best you can manage is to encrypt the PC, and then the USB stick, using the same software. Then when you boot, it should read the USB stick, and ask for the encryption user/password.

As the above poster suggested, you should be able to boot off the USB drive, and keep an encrypted folder on the drive for utilities, which can be decrypted with TrueCrypt or something after you are in the boot OS.
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