Securing your privacy has never been more important than it is now for several reasons. Not only does the average computer user need to protect data from hackers and viruses, but the NSA’s PRISM program is still active and ISPs are now allowed to spy on you, too.
It seems there are endless ways for third parties to capture your data. Even if you use a cloud storage service that encrypts data during transport and storage, it’s possible for cloud storage employees and hackers to access your data (with the exception of zero-knowledge providers).
Unfortunately, some services like Dropbox are notorious for poor security practices that make data easier for hackers to pluck than low-hanging fruit (which is why we offer secure alternatives to Dropbox). In the past, the solution was simple: just use TrueCrypt to encrypt data before shipping it off to the cloud for storage.
The problem with that solution is, however, that TrueCrypt has gone the way of the dinosaur and is now defunct. When visiting the TrueCrypt SourceForge page, you’re currently greeted by the following message:
Warning: Using TrueCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues.
TrueCrypt officially bit the dust in May 2014 after being in service for over ten years. Its developers no longer support the software with updates, so it’s time to find a better alternative with which to encrypt our data.
Fortunately, TrueCrypt isn’t the only encryption tool. There are a several options to choose from, but I’ve collected the five best alternatives to help you find a solution that is not only easy to use, but also offers great security.
One of my favorite TrueCrypt features was its ability to create an encrypted volume. Basically, this feature allowed you to reserve a chunk of your hard drive that was always encrypted, as opposed to individually encrypting each file or folder manually. We have a guide on how to encrypt your hard drive, if you want to know more.
VeraCrypt is probably the best direct replacement for TrueCrypt as it mirrors its functionality almost perfectly. The other alternatives have features that vary significantly, though all provide some form of drive encryption. For instance, some of them only allow individual file encryption as opposed to entire volume encryption.
The most obvious alternative for TrueCrypt is a program called VeraCrypt, as the two encryption tools are closely related: VeraCrypt is a fork of TrueCrypt, meaning that it shares its developmental roots with the TrueCrypt project.
In fact, it just released its latest and greatest update at the end of 2016, and can be downloaded free of charge since it’s an open source project. Like it’s predecessor, VeraCrypt can be used to create an encrypted disk partition.
However, it can also be used to encrypt an entire hard drive –or other storage medium — and force authentication before an operating system boots.
On top of all that, it offers a boatload of encryption mechanisms to secure data. Users have their choice of AES, TwoFish, Serpent and more. Additionally, it uses top of the line hashing algorithms like SHA-256, among others. It is currently available on Mac OSX, Windows and Linux distributions.
It’s the easiest alternative to TrueCrypt for those familiar with that program.
Chances are you’ve heard of Symantec Drive Encryption before, since it’s owned by Norton and produces a wide range of security solutions.
However, this software is rather expensive and may not be the best solution for regular users. A single license currently costs $189.00, and there aren’t really any attractive savings options or discounts.
Symantec seems to be appealing to professional users, too, since it offers bulk license options. For instance, 20 licenses can be purchased at a time, for the cost $3,780.00 (ouch).
Even though it may be a bit pricey, Symantec Drive Encryption offers more features and security than freeware.
Though this version is aimed mostly at desktops, it can be used on servers’ hard drives as well. The encryption is based on PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), a dependable encryption protocol the computing industry has been using since the early nineties.
One of the great features Symantec Drive Encryption offers is its ability to encrypt an entire volume. Some smaller applications only encrypt individual files manually, which leaves many system files vulnerable in an unencrypted state.
However, Symantec Drive encryption will still encrypt operating system files, swap files and other non-data files.
Additionally, it comes with a management console that can be accessed through a web browser. This interface will help administrators oversee large deployments, as well as centralize policy creation and management.
Last but not least, the software even supports SSO to simplify username and password consistency.
If you’re on a system running Mac OSX, then you may want to check out FileVault to encrypt your files. FileVault is a native disk and file encryption tool that provides on-the-fly encryption. Originally, FileVault was created for Mac OSX 10.3 (Panther), and only created a default encrypted folder.
Any data that was manually or automatically stored within the encrypted folder was secured. Unfortunately, this original version wasn’t able to secure operating system files, and could only secure a user’s personal files.
Fortunately, Apple has created an updated version of FileVault, named FileVault 2, which can secure all of the system files as well — including startup files.
This helps protect against hackers, data theft and viruses. Mac users may want to opt for FileVault since it was designed specifically for that OS, while TrueCrypt and other similar encryption solutions were originally designed for Windows.
If you’re only looking for a solution to encrypt individual files, then I would recommend taking a closer look at AES Crypt. This handy tool is available on Windows, Mac OSX and most Linux distros.
As the name implies, it uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) technology to encrypt files so they’re unreadable. More specifically, it uses a type of AES called AES-256, which uses 256-bit encryption keys.
To this day, it’s still impossible to break AES-256 encryption. In fact, mathematicians theorize that it would take billions of years to perform a brute force attack on a single AES-256 key using all of Earth’s latest and greatest computing power.
That’s why it’s virtually impossible to crack. The downside to this tool, however, is that it only offers individual file encryption. If you wanted to encrypt non-user data, system files or an entire disk, you’re out of luck.
I also found it interesting that this tool is based on Java, and can even be integrated into the menu that pops up whenever you right click a file. That means you don’t have to launch a program from your start menu or desktop each time you want to encrypt a file.
Boxcryptor is an extremely well-rounded encryption tool that can support business needs as well as it can individuals’ needs. Like other similar types of software, Boxcryptor operates on a “freemium” model.
Though it does have a free version, it also has a premium version with more features. One of the reasons I had to include this tool is due to the fact it supports both AES-256-bit encryption and RSA.
It even has integration features with many cloud storage services to help encrypt data before uploading it to the cloud.
By encrypting data locally on your computer before uploading it to the cloud, it will be completely safe from hackers, disgruntled cloud employees, governmental agencies and other third parties.
As long as you don’t share your password with anyone else, your cloud data will be secured. Boxcryptor is available on Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, iOS and Android systems.
If you’re looking for the closest thing to TrueCrypt that’s still supported, then look no further than VeraCrypt. As stated previously, VeraCrypt is actually a TrueCrypt fork, and the features these two programs share are nearly identical.
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However, if you’re looking for a different solution, then I highly recommend one of the other four best TrueCrypt alternatives. If you’re not already using local encryption, I highly recommend doing so — even if you use one of the best cloud storage services we recommend. At the very least, do yourself a favor by downloading VeraCrypt. It’s free to use, so there’s no harm in trying it out.