I’ve long been a fan of Linux, not because of the security, or the customization or any of the more traditional reasons, but because I can dig around in its guts, break it and start over again with no worries. There’s long been something called destructive testing, and it boils down to doing your best to completely booger up whatever product your working on. In this case we are talking about a full-on operating system with associated software. Now, you may ask “why would you do that?” The answer is that you can learn much about something by finding what causes it to fail, you can also find out what works really well.
Linux can be adapted to do a lot of things, it runs routers, printers, cameras and even for our uses here: a portable operating system for secure computing.
Linux features a whole slew of security options and protocols for the the slightly paranoid or utility minded. For several years now I’ve kept a USB drive with a bootable copy of a Linux distribution on it. It has allowed me to crack windows passwords for my family members, access files when a virus kills the OS, find registration keys for software and otherwise recover of fix all sorts of issues. And it fits in my pocket.
What does this mean for you? Well, with a portable OS you can not only keep your files on a USB Drive like you normally would, but you can keep them on an encrypted partition with the files separately encrypted making reading them virtually impossible. Furthermore you can keep a huge assortment of software on the drive that allows you to carry on business as usual, or preferably in a way that prevents people from being able to see why your doing. This is ideal when traveling overseas where the networks may be less than trustworthy. Surfing can be encrypted using TOR, and other communications can be bounced off proxy servers or otherwise redirected so that you can conduct business anywhere. Now you still need access to a computer, but it can be anything from your laptop to a cafe computer.
This may come across like a whole lot of cloak and dagger but industrial espionage is rampant in some countries and no one should take the risk of having their data scanned, rifled through or otherwise distributed by a foreign business, government or hacker. It’s also kind of neat party trick to be able to do all kinds of tech wizardry before IT can even think about addressing the problem.
If this sounds interesting to you there are a whole lot of resources on the internet you can check out. Maybe even start here: http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/linux-and-open-source/how-to-install-a-fully-portable-desktop-on-a-usb-for-on-the-go-access/