Encrypted USB Drive for Backup

Jan 05, 2021 in #infosec #development

Happy New Year no-one!

As part of my obsession with using low powered computers, I recieved a wonderful Raspberry Pi 400 from Santa last year.

One thing I worry about is the reputation that the SD card can be trashed fairly quickly, so I decided to have a real simple backup onto an external drive, which of course I wanted to be encrypted.

These commands are based on using RaspberryOS, but should work on any debian based Linux distro.

They also might be out of date when you read this, they are really so I can find them again in the future.

Firstly, Install tools to handle encrypting, the libblockdev-crypto2 is to allow the default lxde desktop to mount the drive and show a prompt for the keyphrase.

sudo apt install cryptsetup-bin libblockdev-crypto2

Next, partition the disk, I just created one big partition for my backup drive (all data will be removed).

fdisk /dev/sdX

Optionally we can fill it with random data before using it, which will prevent anyone seeing how much we have used, I rarely do this unless there was something sensitive on the drive that wasn't encrypted.

dd bs=1M if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sdX1 status=progress

Encrypt it using cryptsetup, these may not be the best settings, however in mycase I am happy with the level of protection they find, my threat model is more if I lose the drive.

cryptsetup -h sha256 -c aes-xts-plain -s 256 luksFormat /dev/sdX1

Next up, open the encrypted drive

cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sdX1 private

....and then format it

mkfs.ext4 /dev/mapper/private

You can then mount the drive so that it appears as a regular drive

mount /dev/mapper/private /mnt/private

To unmount the drive use the following commands

umount /mnt/private
cryptsetup luksClose /dev/mapper/private.

I then wrote a script using the above and rsync to provide a simple snapshot backup of my home directory.

Until next time...