Sneakernet

A talk about old school data transfer techniques, the Sneakernet, now available with upgrades to security, and an explanation why.

The original way of transferring files, revised.

Episode # 4-09 available on : Youtube Blip.tv Vimeo 
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Released: November 10, 2013

A Sneakernet is truly a work of art. It is a lesson in bandwidth and latency. It is a lot more personal. And, it has a lower chance of being intercepted by others. Why? Because it employs the manual transfer of files over floppies, optical discs, USB thumb drives, portable hard drives, etc... The amount of data that can be transferred in the method is dependent only on the size of the transfer medium, and since 4 Terabyte drives are now roughly $150, this means that the potential of transfer is greatly increased, and you won't run into as many issues with data collection because you, or someone else, physically transfers the files from one computer to another.

The benefits today can greatly outweigh the diminishing returns. The amount of files we can transfer in this way is light years more than before. A floppy disc used to hold only 1.44MB when I was younger, to have more, we used CDs, which have about 640MB. We can used multi-terabyte drives now. We can, also, have numerous multi-terabyte drives, the limit being only what we can store or carry on ourselves. Plus, in places like here in Canada, we can carry enough drives that transferring the same amount of the internet would be ridiculously slow and tedious, and if we are only going a short distance, would make more sense to just bring with ourselves.

So, why did the Sneakernet disappear?

It didn't. It just upgraded to something else. Now, we use bigger drives, and we can use our mobile phones for much of the same thing, we can use Bluetooth, or Local Wifi, we can even use software like Apple's AirDrop.

Now, we need to address a newish situation that has come around with the advent of newer data collection techniques from governments and the police. We basically need to upgrade the entire principle of the Sneakernet. We need to encrypt everything in transit. Never mind the fact that in most 1st world countries laws exist that prohibit the acquisition of materials of any kind without a warrant, we have seen time and time again police and government agencies break their own rules and record without permission the content of phones, laptops, etc.... Never mind the fact that the device is hidden, and then forcefully removed from you. Maybe the device is even stolen, or cloned. This is why we need encryption on anything we bring with us, so let's encrypt everything.

Now, how about we create a totally encrypted flash drive that doesn't load as a drive in Windows until the encrypted partition is loaded.

First, open a partition manager, and delete the current partition in the target flash drive. In Windows, you can use the Disk Management feature. Click on the drive partition, and then delete. Click on refresh to confirm. Since the drive has no partition, it has no drive letter, so if it disappeared for the file explorer, that is entirely normal. Now, create a simple partition, follow the instructions, but do not allow it to be formatted. You can now close the partition manager, the rest is done with Truecrypt.

Open Truecrypt, click on create volume, select encrypt a non-system partition/drive, select device, select the partition of interest, now only unallocated space, click on OK. Now, click on next. Select Create encrypted volume and format it, and click next. When presented with encrypted options, which defaults to AES, just click next. Volume size will be grayed out, click next, create a strong volume password, then click next. Unless, you wish to transfer large files, say no to large files, the click format.

Once that is completed, you have a drive that is ready for files to be transferred securely, and prevents unauthorized people at any level from accessing your files without the password to the volume.

To mount the drive, you need Truecrypt, plug in drive, select drive letter, click auto-mount devices, enter password, and voila.

Remember to like this episode if you were interested in today's topic, share if you think someone else could benefit from the topic, and subscribe if you want to learn more. For the show notes of this episode and others, for more information on other ways to subscribe to our show, to subscribe to our weekly newsletter, and how to participate by submitting your questions, comments, suggestions, and stories, head over to TQAWeekly.com.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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Posted by ask
November 10, 2013

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