ICEmaker is a guide and tool for easily organizing, encrypting, accessing, and extracting sensitive, personal information on a small USB flash drive. The USB flash drive can be attached a keychain, carried everywhere, and inserted in laptop or desktop computers for updating and accessing personal health records (PHR) and other information needed In Case of Emergency (ICE).
Both personal health records (PHR) and information needed in case of emergency (ICE) should be available on a timely, need-to-know basis, yet secure from casual or accidental disclosure. Most of us carry very abbreviated forms of such information in our wallets or purses; but should we lose or misplace them, their contents is there for anyone in possession of them to see. Small USB flash drives attached to keychains can contain volumes of information—more than any wallet or purse ever could or would. We can update the contents, periodically as information changes, and family members and healthcare works can have timely access to important healthcare and personal information. Unique passwords enabling access to the information secured on the USBs may be known by or available to family members and on cards carried in wallets, on MedicAlert IDs and brackets, and in other locations routinely checked by EMTs and healthcare workers. All in all, these little gizmos are ideal for vital, timely, and accessible PHR and ICE information.
Free Encryption Software
The least expensive methods of securing electronically stored information is software encryption with password-protected access. Many brands of USBs now come with free encryption software, either already on the USB or downloadable. Much more expensive USBs employ hardware encryption solutions. ICEmaker offers three options for preparing USB flash drives for encryption and extraction of PHR and ICE information. The first two may be used with any USB flash drive, while the third may only be used with SanDisk USBs.
The first, featured option uses SecurStick*, a free, cross-platform technology which is quite simple and easy to use. SecureStick is available in versions running on Macintosh, Windows, and Linux platforms, and meets national security encryption standards.
The second option, uses a ubiquitous Zip encryption technology called 7 Zip, or simply 7z. 7z is cross-platform, with hundreds of implementations on Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and other systems. ICEmaker mixes and matches 7z software, with Keka for Macintosh and PeaZip for Windows. One shortcoming of Keka is that it doesn’t provide viewing of encrypted content without extraction.
The third option, SanDisk SecureAccess 2.0, is for use only on SanDisk flash drives. Like SecurStick, it is easy to use and includes versions for both Macintosh and Windows platforms. What is noteworthy is that with these three options is a USB’s content, encrypted and passworded on one platform, can be easily accessed and extracted on another. I.e., the encrypted content is cross-platform, even though the software isn’t.
Recommendation: ICEmaker features SecurStick, as the best, all-round choice. It is very simple and easy to use, both by those creating and maintaining an ICE USB and by endusers–healthcare professionals and support personnel in emergency situations. The second option is the most difficult option to learn and use. The third option is easy to use, too, but can only be used with SanDisk USB flash drives.
In sum, using ICEmaker will make the job of organizing, encrypting, extracting PHR and ICE information free and relatively easy; much easier than trying to figure it all out on one’s own. With your USB always at hand—well, at least handy, on your keychain–your PHR and ICE information will be secure and readily available when needed by those who are there to help in times of health and medical emergencies. Of course, you can help, too, by preparing, maintaining, and carrying with you at all times on your keychain, your PHR and ICE information on an ICE USB.
Overview of ICEmaker
You may get a general idea of what ICEmaker is and how it is organized by looking over the file structure represented in this screenshot. My ICEmaker is the top-level folder containing ICEmaker 1.0 and folders for any individual for which an ICE USB is created and maintained. Two folders, for Buster and Betty Boop, are included in My ICEmaker as examples and for practice. Incidentally, encrypted information for two or more persons may be stored, separately, on a single ICE USB.
ICEmaker offers three options for preparing an ICE USB: two in the folder ICE 4 Any USB and one in the folder ICE 4 SanDisk USB. Once you have decided which option to use, you will copy the option’s content–software and documentation–unencrypted, to the ICE USB (or to the folder ICE USB (proxy), in My ICEmaker). Then that software is used to add/encrypt the information to be secured on the ICE USB (or proxy), e.g., the content of ICE 4 Betty Boop.
Important Note. One thing that ICEmaker does not do is address the content of the the USB drive, i.e., patient health records (PHR) and information needed In Case of Emergency (ICE). The focus in ICEmaker is on the nuts and bolts of encrypting, extracting, and password-protecting USBs.
For an introduction and guide to personal health records, Microsoft’s free HealthVault and PHR on mobile device apps, visit other parts of this PHR4us weblog. For information about ICE programs and useful mobile ICE apps, google ‘ICE In Case of Emergency’ or visit the prototype for a personal ICE website.
If and when you are ready, continue on to Using ICEmaker →