My recent article on cloud computing has sparked quite a discussion about how realistic the scenario is, and how no one is going to use cloud computing as a standard way of working because it puts their privacy and security at risk.
The truth is, everybody with a computer and internet access is already performing cloud computing. When in need for information, do you go to the library or do you use search engines and wikis? Do you still send letters or do you use online eMail accounts? Even if you use Outlook (beware!) or Thunderbird, all your eMails pass through the cloud, are temporarily (hopefully!) stored on mail servers, and can be intercepted at various points during their journey. That’s the reality.
If you are worried about privacy and if you need to transmit confidential information quickly, you should think about encryption. There are multiple ways to automatically encrypt eMails through the program you are using. The advantage is comfort, the disadvantage is that it’s quite predictable. Here are a selection of encryption tools to add some variation.
This very simple tool comes with a number of different not so serious encryption and decryption methods. To me the highlights are l33t encryption, pig latin and backward spelling. Since not even a password or key is required to decrypt messages, Cybermachine should be used for fun only.
This is the best tool for quick and thorough encryption. As can be seen in the screenshot below, the interface is plain and simple, Encodor supports up to 400 characters, with up to 30 characters the password can be very strong, no sign up is required to use Encodor, and there are no limitations of how often it can be used. Nothing is revealed about the encryption method used.
If 400 characters for your message and 30 for the password are not enough, Info Encrypt provides more space. The interface is a tad less stylish, but not a bit more complicated to use. For safety reasons the password has to be entered twice for encryption.
Encrypting plain text messages is all fair and easy, but what about files? The partner site to Info Encrypt provides a file encryption engine which is just as easy to handle as the previous tools. Files of up to 10MB can be encrypted and optionally secured with a password. The files are not stored online, but rather must be downloaded and shared by other means.
The last tool in the list is the most comprehensive one. This service stores your encrypted and password protected WYSIWYG message, and informs the indicated recipient via eMail about it.
Lockbin takes us through five stages:
- Agree to the terms and conditions.
- Prove that you are not a robot.
I failed twice, but I swear it was an o!
- Finally begin to edit your message.
It may contain formatted text, different containers (paragraphs, headers, etc.), lists, links, images, tables or any html code you wish to enter directly. Copy and paste from a text editor to Lockbin works just fine.
- Enter your Secret Word.
- Enter information for both yourself and the designated message recipient(s).
And that’s it, now you’re all set for online message and file encryption. For more information about encryption check out Simon’s article Keeping Under the Radar and Securing Your PC Files, Aibek’s piece on 2 Ways to Hide “Important” Files and Folders in Windows, how to Encrypt Your USB Stick, and finally my article on how to Become a Secret Steganographer.
How safe do you feel using online communication for more or less sensible data?