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Mortgage Madness

I refinanced again–once again with no closing costs while sacrificing some on the rate.  Interest rates are again at historic lows which meant I had to take avantage of two great opportunities–lowering my rate by three quarters of a percentage and shortening the length of my loan to a 15 year term.  With no out of pocket costs involved (or closing costs financed), there was nothing to lose.

The upside is that I keep making the same payment I’ve always made and more money goes to driving the principle balance to zero because of the lower rate and shorter duration of the loan.  Two great sites I found for following rates and the mortgage process are:

Collecting and Sending all those statements

Usually I rely on my tried and true fax machine, but this time I decided it was time to join the rest of the world and managed to collect everything as PDFs. After gathering them all in a folder I realized I didn’t want to send them unencrypted over the wire.

Next I searched for a way to zip all the files and lock the archive with a password that couldn’t easily be hacked and read on Windows. From what I could find on Google, the regular linux zip password protected algorithm was not secure, however encrypting with AES was.

I discovered that 7zip could do strong AES encryption and store in a zip format–presumably most Windows users (and my loan officer) would be able to read the archive, however the instructions I found to do so were horrible.

After google failed me I turned to the powerhouse of Red Hat engineers on an internal list… and in less than 24 hours I had a solid answer–thank you Norman Mark St. Laurent!  There is very little coherent information on Google about using 7zip with RHEL–the package names are confusing, the man pages are incomplete, and none of the examples I found for other platforms worked.  This post aims to remedy that.

Creating an AES encrypted archive with RHEL 6 and 7zip

1) Make sure EPEL (Extra Packages for Enterprise Linuxe is enabled)

2) Install the 7zip package (note the package name is not the same as the executable).

$ su -c 'yum install p7zip'

3) Create an encrypted archive readable by WinZip.

$ 7za a -y -tzip -pMY_PASSWORD -mem=AES256 /path/to/directory-of-files

Image by Alexander Stielauvia flickr used under a Creative Commons license.