Encryption toolkit for media makers: A VeraCrypt guide

Before following the step-by-step instructions in this guide, check out our general introduction to encryption for media makers for pro-tips and a technical glossary.

Looking for our guide to encrypting external storage devices and containers on Disk Utility? You can find it here.

What is VeraCrypt? How can I use it?

VeraCrypt is an open source volume management tool compatible with macOS, Windows, and Linux systems.

If you’re not already a VeraCrypt user, download the software from the developer’s website. Just like a physical signature, the developer leaves files that only they can sign using cryptographic keys on their website. To ensure we have a legitimate installation file (and not one that’s been tampered with) we should confirm that these files correspond to their encryption keys and signatures. It's easier than it sounds. Learn how in this guide from Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Because it is available on all major operating systems (macOS, Linux, and Windows), VeraCrypt is an ideal tool for teams geared towards cross-platform sharing (e.g. sharing encrypted storage in a mixed team of macOS and Windows users).

MacOS users listen up — If your team is composed entirely of macOS users, you don’t have to worry about sharing across different operating systems and can stick with Disk Utility, which is already installed on your device. You can refer to our Disk Utility guide to get started.

If you are a macOS user concerned about cross-platform sharing, or have otherwise decided to use Veracrypt, you’ll have to install one dependency before you can start using it. Download and install an additional piece of software, OSXFuse, in order to manage some file formats in VeraCrypt that aren’t natively supported in macOS.

So you want to protect the data on your external hard drive, and other storage devices…

Let’s imagine that we are starting work on a feature-length documentary film. We will be capturing footage for the next couple of years for the project. Some of this footage contains first person interviews with sensitive sources. We want to take extreme care to make multiple copies, or backups, of this integral footage. Likewise, we want to protect our source with added technical safeguards placed on the backup hard drives.

Your solution? Creating encrypted external storage for medium- to long-term storage

During every stage of a film project, there remains unused footage, cuts, and other material that require safekeeping. For some film teams, the risk of confiscation of storage devices is extremely likely while shooting in the field. When we encrypt storage media, we are protecting the data it will hold, erecting barriers that make it difficult and costly for unwanted third parties to access.

Encrypting external storage devices on VeraCrypt

Step-by-step workflow:

When you start up Veracrypt, you will be greeted by the Veracrypt volume manager, your one-stop-shop to mount, manage, and unmount up to twenty local and external VeraCrypt volumes.

We’ll circle back to managing your volumes at the end of the demo, but for now let’s hit the Create Volume option.