Will partition of my hard drive help me to protect my essential files?

I want to divide my 1 TB Hard disk drive into 4 partitions and store my files accordingly. For example I am keeping my movies in one partition and software setups in another. If my partition of movies gets infected will my other partitions get infected as well.

Is there any way to protect the partition with software setup?

Note :

  1. I am dividing the same HDD into 4 partitions.
  2. I have to keep using the same drive for backup of my software, my academic works and for data transfer as well.
  • Short of using a write blocker, the only way you'll mitigate your concerns is by maintaining proper backups. Infection aside, have you given any thought as to what you'll do if this single drive fails for any reason? – Ivan Sep 20 '16 at 18:40
  • I have heard that there is a way to make HDD write proof but don't know how to do it . Though I have made one of my partition read only from properties . But if I am connecting It in different PC's it seems to be not working. I can`t copy or delete files from my laptop but from my Desktop I can . I use Linux in desktop and I set permissions from Windows in Laptop. Isn't there any permanent solution , at least up to some extend like by coding . @Johnny – VoidOfLimbo Sep 25 '16 at 10:54

Your external HDD can get infected in at least 3 ways:

  1. Executable files stored on the ext. HDD can get infected, meaning that what they do when executed is changed.

  2. Your ext. HDD can be made to boot a mini OS which then goes on to boot your normal OS. The infection for this can happen at any time though policies of your operating system can prevent unprivileged of doing the according changes. At least on Linux you should be fine as long as you don't give the malware root rights. Actually harming you, however, can only happen this way if your ext. HDD is connected while you boot your computer.

  3. The firmware of your ext. HDD can be changed in such a way that it makes malware stored on it persistent. Then even overwriting your entire HDD doesn't get rid of the malware. This includes of course formatting existing partitions, deleting them, creating a new partition table, etc. Exploiting this requires vulnerability of your ext. HDD's firmware.

None of these ways of attack can be prevented by simply partitioning your ext. HDD into 4 partitions.

However, the first one can be partially prevented by partitioning your ext. HDD into 4 encrypted partitions and only decrypting the ones you're planning to use. If for example you only need access to the backups partition, only decrypt this one. Malware then can't infect your executable files stored on a different partition. If you want to transfer files from or to a computer which might have malware on it, only decrypt the file transfer partition. Make sure to never execute files from there.

Exploiting the second way of attack can as I already said be foiled by simply having your ext. HDD disconnected when you boot. If this is too inconvenient for you, maybe disabling booting from USB is a better option for you as this also renders this way of attack impractical. Make sure, though to not only change your boot order to put HDD first. Disable booting from USB all together in your BIOS settings. Otherwise malware which also uses the 3rd way of attack can trick your computer into booting from the ext. HDD anyways, however, it's very unlikely that this happens. I've never heard of a malware doing this.

The only ways the 3rd way of attack can be prevented is through OS policies or having an ext. HDD which makes in nearly infeasible to change its firmware. However, if you connect your HDD to a different computers, it might have different OS policies. And if that computer has a a malware with systems rights running, OS policies are useless.

  • Thank you @UTF-8 But I am not aware how to encrypt a partition. I googled it but was not able to find the answer. Can you provide me some link where I can learn it from. – VoidOfLimbo Sep 25 '16 at 11:04
  • Copy everything on it somewhere else. Download VeraCrypt. Launch VeraCrypt and choose "Create Volume", then create a VeraCrypt volume on that partition. Make very sure to choose the correct partition. After that's done, mount the partition and copy all the data you want on it onto it. You might have to set the access right correctly before copying your data onto it depending on the FS you use. So if you use ext4, navigate to the mounted partition in the terminal and execute sudo chown yourUsername .. – UTF-8 Sep 25 '16 at 11:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.