There are mainly two ways: encrypt the hard disk (partial or total) of the USB stick or set a password for the single file
We often talk about being careful with the data saved on the computer, protecting the access to the device with passwords or biometric security systems (fingerprints above all). Just as it is recommended to keep the PC updated against the latest threats, little importance is given, however, to USB flash drives.
All USB flash drives are very convenient, especially since they allow you to easily transfer information between two devices, but they also constitute a real risk. The reason is quite simple. Compared to a traditional computer, due to their small size, the danger of them being misplaced and ending up in the wrong hands is very high. As a result, anyone might be able to get hold of everything stored on the lost USB flash drive. In order to avoid such dangerous situations, it is essential to act in advance and obscure the files stored on the portable storage device.
There are mainly two ways: encrypting the USB flash drive's hard drive or setting a password for a single file.
Protect Data with Word
Most writing programs allow you to apply a protection key to each file. Let's consider Word, Microsoft's software. Setting a password is very simple. Just open a document, go to "Info" and from there to "Protect Document". Then, from the dropdown menu, just click on the "Encrypt with password" option and choose a security key. At this point the document is protected and cannot be opened without knowing the password.
The second solution, as we have seen, implies the use of specific programs.
The software, also available for free, creates an encrypted partition into which you can put your files to be protected. It should be noted that, in some cases, you need administrator privileges to open the virtual hard drive.
One of the most widely used programs, and one that does not require any special permission, is Rohos Mini Drive. The software, which allows you to encrypt up to 2GB of data, uses the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) 256-bit encryption system. The tool creates a password-protected virtual disk. An element not to be overlooked about Rohos Mini Drive is its accessibility. In fact, the security tool can be opened from any computer. To use it, it is enough to download the tool to the USB flash drive.
A program similar to the previous one is VeraCrypt. The software combines different encryption standards and algorithms together. Again, the security tool allows at most to protect 2 GB of data. Compared to Rohos Mini, VeraCrypt also gives the possibility to encrypt the entire hard drive of the USB stick. The program must be downloaded to the external memory storage. Unlike Rohos Mini, this software needs administrator rights to work. This means that VeraCrypt cannot be used to open the encrypted files on other computers.
An alternative and very simple solution is to use 7-Zip, one of the most popular file compression programs, to protect the data stored on the USB flash drive. It is sufficient to select the file in the external storage unit, press the right mouse button or the touchpad and then click on "Add to archive" among the various entries. Next, all you have to do is look for the "Encryption" box, enter and repeat the password protection and press "OK".