4 Surprising Ways To Encrypt Your Data

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black lock icon   4 Surprising Ways To Encrypt Your DataEncryption is often considered the playground of geeks alone, but it doesn’t have to be. Encryption just means that information is scrambled and you can only access the real information with a special password or key. On an Internet where we don’t want our credit card numbers and other sensitive data exposed to prying eyes, encryption is an important tool.

The four applications here will help you have encrypted chat conversations, hide data in media files, secure your cloud storage, and send secret messages via email. Note however that no service is perfect. If you’re an activist fighting a totalitarian government that’s after you, ensure you do more research before trusting one of these services with your life.

Cryptocat – Chat Privately in Your Browser

Cryptocat has been highlighted in the media recently for offering easy-to-use encrypted chat for the masses. Chat messages are encrypted in your browser before leaving your computer and can only be viewed by the recipient. You’ll have to install the Cryptocat extension for your browser from its website to get started.

Open the Cryptocat extension after it’s installed to start chatting. You’ll only need to enter two pieces of information – the name of a conversation room and a nickname for yourself. Share the name of the conversation with other people you want to talk to and they can easily join it.

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start cryptocat chat   4 Surprising Ways To Encrypt Your Data

After other people join your conversation, you can have an encrypted chat session with them. Messages are encrypted on your computer, travel over the Internet in an encrypted form, and are decrypted on your recipients’ computers. This prevents eavesdropping — not even Cryptocat’s servers can view the messags.

cryptocat chat window   4 Surprising Ways To Encrypt Your Data

For even more privacy, you can use Cryptocat with Tor, an anonymous way of accessing the web. No one will be able to tell that you’re even using Cryptocat.

OpenPuff – Hide Data in Media Files

You could store and send encrypted data by creating an encrypted file. People wouldn’t be able to see your data, but they’d know there’s something there. Instead of creating a standard encrypted file, you can use steganography to hide your encrypted data in an image, video, or audio file.  OpenPuff is a Windows application that makes this easy.

openpuff steganography   4 Surprising Ways To Encrypt Your Data

After downloading OpenPuff, launch it and click the Hide button to start hiding data in a file. You (or someone else) can use the Unhide button to extract hidden data from a file if you have the required information. This allows you to share media files with someone or just store your own secret data in a place no one would think to look.

If you’re not using Windows, you can try one of these two tools we’ve previously covered: iSteg for Mac or mozaiq on the web.

Cloudfogger – Secure & Share Your Cloud Files

Use Cloudfogger to encrypt files and folders that you store online in cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive. To encrypt your Dropbox directory, right-click it in Windows Explorer and use the Cloudfogger context menu to define it as a “Cloudfogger Autofogg Folder.” Files stored in your Dropbox directory will be stored on disk in an encrypted form and only the encrypted copies will be uploaded.

cloudfogger fogg folder4   4 Surprising Ways To Encrypt Your Data

You can also use the Cloudfogger submenu to easily encrypt individual files. For example, you can encrypt sensitive files before taking them with you on a USB stick. If you lose the USB drive, you won’t have to worry – anyone that finds the drive can’t view your sensitive data. Fogg one or more individual files and you’ll see an option to “defogg” it when you right-click it.

cloudfogger defogg files   4 Surprising Ways To Encrypt Your Data

Cloudfogger also includes easy sharing features. Use the Manage Folder Shares option in the Cloudfogger submenu to specify email addresses that have access to the files. For example, if you share the files with someone via Dropbox, they’ll be able to use your encrypted “Autofogg Folder” without needing your password.

Cloudfogger is just one of many ways to securely encrypt your cloud storage.

Lockbin – Send Secret Messages Via Email

Have you ever needed to email someone an important, sensitive piece of information? Email isn’t secure – if you send the information itself in an email, someone could eavesdrop on it in transit. Even if it reaches its destination securely, the data is now stored in someone’s email account – it will be backed up on email servers and buried in email archives where someone can find it in the future. If you’re sending something important, such as a credit card number or other piece of confidential information, this is unacceptable.

That’s where Lockbin comes in. Use the Send Message feature on the Lockbin website (no registration is necessary) to create a secret message. This message is secured with a password the recipient will need to know – for example, you could decide on a password ahead of time in person. Once you’ve entered the information, a notification will be emailed to the recipient. They’ll have to click the link in the email and provide the password. After they view the message once, it will be deleted from Lockbin’s servers. You can even attach a file to your secret message, which can be downloaded when the user accesses the message on Lockbin.

lockbin email notification   4 Surprising Ways To Encrypt Your Data

For more ways to send secret messages by email or instant message, check out our list of ways to keep sensitive data out of your emails and chat logs.

What other tricks do you use to encrypt your data and keep it secure? Leave a comment and share them!

Image Credit: Lock Icon via Shutterstock

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24 Comments -

André Kamara

If I use ClouFogger, would anyone be able to open the files stored on my DropBox when I send them a public link?

Giggity Goebbels

If the viewers share it

Hunbuhbhuygb Ygygbgybygb

Lol

Igor Rizvi?

I like OpenPuff,its like some secret agent stuff lol :D

Lisa Santika Onggrid

It’s good as long as your file isn’t too large. 2GB omage file will arouse anyone’s suspicion.

Achraf Almouloudi

But in a movie file, it probably won’t be suspicious.

Douglas Mutay

Agree

Tim Schluter

CryptoCat and LockBin sound good to me. I too question how to encrypt DropBox files and still be able to share them as well.

James Hudson

cant you just encrypt them and then upload to dropbox?

ipgmail

Sure, but then you cannot share them unless you also share the key to decrypt them. Or use PGP and encrypt it with all of the public keys for the people you want to share with (see http://ipgmail.com).

ipgmail

Why wouldn’t you mention PGP for really secure email? There is no middle man website holding the key, as long as you and the recipient exchange PUBLIC keys (which are secure for sharing and public exposure, by definition), email and files can be encrypted and exchanged safely.

http://www.ipgmail.com

ReadandShare

As a home user, I backup everything onto an external drive next to my computer, and I use the cloud for offiste backup. I think I am fine with 99% of my files (music, photos, videos) being protected by just the cloud website’s sign-on ID and password.

I do have a small handful of files that I’d like to keep more securely private — my password “vault”, tax files, and such. All of them are in Office XP docs and spreadsheets — password protected using the 128-bit RC4 Microsoft “strong Cryptographic Provider” option. So in the clouds, this encryption provides a second layer protection.

I wonder how secure the above compares to the newer options in this article? When on the road (traveling, etc.) — I know I can always access my files since my tablet and internet cafes the world over all can open Office files. My fear is that Boxcrypt, etc. might not be available to decrypt when needed??

ReadandShare

I wrote Boxcrypt but I meant Cloudfogger. But same issue — when on the road, cafe computers likely won’t have your brand of decryptor installed. But every computer has Office.

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I’ll try Cloudfrogger. Sounds like it has tight integration with Dropbox. But I have similar question to Andre. Would anyone else able to view/download my files later?

Shahbaz Amin

All options are worth a look, thanks for informative article.!!

Alexander

Openpuff is looking interesting. Great article.

Xantes

What a pity for the “cloudfogger”… says it’s free but… it doesn’t say it’s limited: you can’t encrypt a limitless number of folders, or a limitless volume of files!

ReadandShare

Reading Cloudfogger’s website, you can sync up to 5 folders with a free account. However, you can create as many subfolders as you like under each of the 5. Shouldn’t be a problem… esp. considering that Dropbox allows just one folder with which to build subfolders under.

Adriel Tan

same question here…

Ă‚dil FarĂ´Ă´q

Very informative thanks for the article

Thehunting Lion

Used cloudfogger, and found it really worth giving a try.. !
Cheers.

Hunbuhbhuygb Ygygbgybygb

This article is very useful

Asim Ali

i will try to use them more frequently from now on …

Danijel Cukaric

great article, but it would be great to specify on which platforms it works…