For many people security is one of the major issues when it comes to sending your files into the cloud. They worry about their files being seen or even compromised by other people because that’s what happened in the past. User accounts have been hacked, cloud storage systems failed, files and personal data were exposed. Here are some of our recent articles covering the vulnerability of Dropbox and other cloud storage systems:
- Is Dropbox’s Security Truly Poor?
- Snowden Slams Dropbox’s Lack of Privacy, OK’s SpiderOak
- Almost 7 Million Dropbox Accounts Compromised
- A Look into the Aftermath of The iCloud Hack
A part from this guide we’ve covered TrueCrypt in our Ultimate Guide in Using TrueCrypt For Dropbox. However, TrueCrypt is no longer developed therefore there may have opened security holes that are not being fixed.
So how can you effectively prevent that from happening even if your account gets hacked or something happens to your cloud storage provider?
The answer is encryption
Encryption is the process of making your files unreadable with an encryption key or pass phrase so that even if somebody gains access to your files – it doesn’t matter because the only thing an intruder sees is gibberish. Only with the key you can properly see what’s in a file.
In this article we’ll show you how you can make your files secure and use cloud storage safely without any worries.
Your two options
Basically, when it comes to encrypting your files in the cloud you have two options you can choose from:
- you go for a cloud storage service with built in (local) encryption
- or you use a service that encrypts files or folders for you
Dedicated, secure cloud storage service with built-in local encryption
Service for encryption only
BoxCryptor – Basic version free, pro tier $44.99
BoxCryptor is a powerful encryption service for all your files that you plan to store online with a cloud storage service such as Dropbox or SugarSync (Editor Rating: 40, 100 GB for 74.99 $/year). It is available for all major operating systems (including Linux) and mobile devices. The best part: it is absolutely free unless you need to encrypt multiple drives or if you’d like to encrypt file extensions as well. For the purposes of this article we’ll show you the free version which is more than enough for the majority of users.
Getting started with BoxCryptor
Choosing your encryption password or passphrase
Moving your files to your secure Box
BoxCryptor – Encrypted file view
If somebody was able to get your Dropbox login information, this person could enter your boxcryptor.bc folder – absolutely. Also, this person could download your files – BUT without your decryption passphrase the only thing this person sees is a jumble of numbers and letters.
Dedicated, secure cloud storage solution
If you don’t like the idea of installing another software on your computer just for encryption purposes, you might find the idea enticing to sign up for a dedicated cloud solution that will have built in local encryption for all of your files. Now, there are a couple of those solutions available: there is Cubby, Wuala and SpiderOak (Editor Rating: 40, 30 GB for 84 $/year). In this article we’ll have a look at SpiderOak because it won our Online Backup Security Award.
What makes SpiderOak secure?
SpiderOak is not only a cloud storage service. It can also be used for online backup (read here what’s the difference). They have established a zero-knowledge privacy which basically means they can’t read your data even if they wanted to. That is done via local encryption with a passphrase of your choosing. Just like Dropbox SpiderOak (Editor Rating: 40, 30 GB for 84 $/year) gives you 2GB of free storage to play around with it.
With SpiderOak you can:
- back up your files
- share and sync your files
While SpiderOak is not as easy and intuitive to use as Dropbox it’s local encryption feature combined with server side AES encryption makes it very secure for your most important files.
Getting started with SpiderOak – Selecting files for backup
Start syncing your files
Create multiple syncing folders
What should you do?
If you are a heavy Dropbox user and are very used to its benefits as well as limitations probably the best way is to go with BoxCryptor. It integrates well with Dropbox or other syncing services like Livedrive (Editor Rating: 40, Unlimited GB for 48 $/year).
If you’re just starting out with cloud storage but worry a lot about file security we highly recommend you trying out SpiderOak for free. If you don’t like it you can switch to BoxCryptor any time because it’s free. At first, it’s not that easy to wrap your head around SpiderOak’s security and file syncing concept but once you ‘get it’, there are quite a lot of possibilities there.
What solution do you prefer? Share you experience with out community!