4 Reasons Why You Should Encrypt Linux Partitions
4 Reasons Why You Should Encrypt Linux Partitions
It's very easy to encrypt your home folder and other data in Linux. You can do it during installation, or at any time using your distro. But while useful, encrypting your Linux partitions or data is not always a good idea. Sure, that sounds secure, so how can Linux disk encryption be such a bad idea? Let's see why you should encrypt your Linux HDD and why you are looking for alternatives.
Should You Encrypt Linux Partitions?
Most Linux distributions make it easy to encrypt your home folder or even an entire partition, without much trouble. This is a great option to have if you need data to be encrypted. In most cases, all you need to do is check a box, and Linux will take care of the rest.
Unfortunately, some people choose it simply because it seems like a good option to have. While this is clearly true, they don't think about (or perhaps don't realize) the consequences. Indeed, some people don't even know what encryption really is. They just know it's a security option. This disconnect between understanding the technology can lead to the benefits of disk encryption being overstated and the drawbacks being overlooked.
It's smarter to know all the facts before making a decision that permanently changes the contents of your hard disk drive. Reasons to encrypt your Linux disk include:
* Protect personal data from loss or theft
* Prevent theft of sensitive corporate data
* Block remote surveillance
* Protect sensitive data from third parties
Meanwhile, some of the negative consequences of disk encryption are:
* Make data recovery more difficult
* Makes full system recovery nearly impossible
* Hit system performance
4 Reasons To Encrypt Linux Drives
1. Protect Personal Data From Loss Or Theft
For standard users, especially laptop owners, this is a key point. You don't want to risk personal data and potentially accessing your email and cloud accounts, if your device is stolen. Encrypting your hard disk will block access to these items. Whether files, partitions or full disks are encrypted, their contents will be meaningless to anyone without the encryption key.
2. Prevent Theft of Sensitive Company Data
Similarly, if you use your computer for work, encryption is a smart choice. Whether a laptop or desktop computer, the device must enable encryption. The industry you work in can influence how important this is (eg protecting patient data in healthcare). However, it's smart to just use encryption across the board at work. Protecting data from corporate espionage or whaling expeditions is smart.
3. Block Remote Monitoring
Full disk encryption of your Linux system can also allow for remote surveillance. A hacker with access to your computer will not be able to read the encrypted data. Government agencies in charge of monitoring your data will not be able to open your files.
4. Protect Sensitive Data From Third Parties
If you are managing data for other people (whether clients, or someone in jeopardy), disk encryption is one of the answers. This protects them from risk, while letting you off the hook if data is lost or stolen. What you have to remember is that if the data remains encrypted, it cannot be read. Beyond the unlikely possibility that encryption is broken, data should be kept safe.
3 Negative Impacts of Linux Disk Encryption
1. Disk Encryption Makes Recovering Data Harder
Encrypting your data seems like a smart choice. Without decryption linked to your account password, no one can access your data. Even if the device is stolen, your hard drive cannot be read without the decryption key.
But what if something in your system has messed up? Be it the operating system or another hardware component, you may want to move your data to a safe place. For unencrypted data, this can easily be done by running (at minimum) a Linux LiveCD on another computer. Just connect the hard drive to that computer and start transferring your data. But with encrypted data, it's not that easy.
2. System Restore Is Not Possible With Disk Encryption
Meanwhile, if your entire Linux partition is encrypted, it will be more difficult to restore your system when needed. For example, if your system loses power at a critical point, you should run a recovery disc. It's the only way to get things back to normal. Performing recovery on an encrypted Linux system will be more difficult. Without a decryption key, unless you have an unencrypted disk image, you have nothing to hide.
3. Hard Drive Encryption Can Affect Performance
Another thing to note is that encryption may not be the best performance option for low-power devices. While many devices are powerful enough to handle encryption with negligible performance impact, for older hardware it is not.
Installing Linux on old netbooks and other low power devices is fine. But do without encryption. After all, netbooks are slow enough already. With no encryption on your disk, this is a great idea to increase the productivity of your low spec device.
As always, what you end up doing is completely up to you. If you feel the need to encrypt your entire home folder or even your entire partition, feel free. As long as you guys know what you might be up against if something goes wrong. On the other hand, if you prefer to leave your drive unencrypted and secure your data in other ways. Just make sure your data is as safe as promised.