Encrypting the cloud

The opportunity to use free cloud storage is becoming easier and easier, with services such as Dropbox, Google Drive to mention but two.  The convenience of having your information easily available where ever you are and on multiple devices such as Android, iOS, Windows Desktop, Apple Mac is a tremendous boost to productivity.  The main downside is that your data is no longer within your full control, storage providers can promise full backups and file versioning (keeping old versions of a current file) they also tend to have terms of service that mean they make no promises about what might happen to your data.

If the information you are storing is non sensitive then there is no problem, but if you’re using it to keep contact info, personal information or anything else you would like to keep personal then you should consider encrypting your data prior to uploading it to your cloud storage.

I’ve had a look at two encryption options,  TrueCrypt and BoxCryptor.

Truecrypt is an open source system for Windows 7/Vista/XP, Mac OS X and Linux.  Ir provides a high degree of security.  In effect you create a volume, ( a portion of your hard drive) and anything you put in that partition is encrypted.  Anyone looking at the volume will just see apparently random data.  Truecrypt was not design specifically for cloud storage so it can be problematic to setup.  For example if you want to encrypt files you will need to create a big enough volume to contain the files.  Say you select 3Gb as encrypted storage then you have to load that 3Gb volume up to your cloud storage even if it only contains a few Kbytes of your files.  Subsequent transfer size depends on your storage provider, some will only upload the changed parts of the file some may upload the entire 3GB each time.  Either way I would say that truecrypt is not the solution for managing cloud stored files.

BoxCryptor works on Android, Mac, iOS, Linux and Windows, and for free you can have one encrypted cloud drive.  If you want to use multiple cloud storage providers you need to buy the software for a one off payment of around US$ 40.  The one thing that the paid version of boxcryptor gives you is that file names are also masked, i.e. if you save david.txt to the drive it will appear in the encrypted folder as a random string of characters, eg “iubnkj;osyuf” so the information is completely masked.

I would recommend that you consider encryption, but beware, you take responsibility for your data, if you forget  your encryption password there is no recovery.  You lose the encrypted data.

If you want to explore the intricacies of encryption then download Truecrypt and read the extensive documentation.

If you want a straightforward way to encrypt your data go for BoxCryptor.

If you feel that the added security of having filenames encrypted is useful buy BoxCryptor.

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