Older versions of Ubuntu included a space for each user, encrypted by default and decrypted as that user logged in, under the home area within the folder hierarchy. The most recent version of Ubuntu (9.04) does not include this feature out of the box.
I rather like this implementation. Each user has a secure folder-space which is continually encrypted and protected from access by even other local users (though administrators would still have the power to access the user’s account by changing the password and then logging in as that user). Its simplicity is where this shines.
Essentially, for those unfamiliar, under your Home directory there will be a folder called Private. That folder and its contents are stored in an encrypted format (using a special file system) and are only decrypted as that user logs into the machine. Simple and effective, I was rather surprised to see it removed from the latest release.
As fortune would have it this feature is very easy to re-implement for anyone using the newest release of Ubuntu. It’s merely two lines of code into a terminal (Applications —> Accessories —> Terminal):
- sudo aptitude install ecryptfs-utils
(Thanks to this page at Ubuntu for the information.)