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How to encrypt a VM in VirtualBox

Sometime OS-level encryption is just not enough, from time to time all of us need to copy a VM to a non-encrypted external disk or a flash drive. Then, after the copy is made, all the hard work and all the security measures go out the window, that’s because when copied, our sensitive data is free to access for anyone who can get hands on that drive. What can be done to create an extra layer of security and help us in this situation? That’s right, you’ve guessed it, it’s VM Encryption, let’s have a quick look at how you can enable it in VirtualBox.

How to enable encryption in VirtualBox

  • First, make sure that you are using VirtualBox 5.0 or higher,
  • Check if you can enable encryption right away in the settings of your VM,

enable-encryption-extension-pack-needed

  • If you have an inactive “OK” button then you have to install the VirtualBox Extension Pack, no worries – I’ve got you covered,
  • Go to https://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/Downloads  and download the latest extension pack, you’ll find it somewhere under the VirtualBox 5.X.XX Oracle VM VirtualBox Extension Pack heading ;),
  • After downloading just install it like every other program, this shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes of your time,

 

  • Now you should have the option to click the “OK” button which will turn on encryption of the VM,
  • But wait! Don’t do it yet – after clicking “OK” the encryption process starts right away and you will have to wait until it’s finished. Now is a good time to make a backup, if you don’t have one already,
  • After the backup’s done please continue with the encryption of your disk,

FYI: My virtual hard drive was around 20 GB and was processed in 10 minutes on my i5 ThinkPad. If your VM is bigger please be patient and don’t be mad at me if it takes longer than expected.

  • After the encryption process has ended check if everything works as it should,
  • From now every time you’ll start your VM you will be prompted to enter your password,

 

Hope I’ve helped.

Till next time,

Mike

 

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