Editor’s Note: The development of TrueCrypt was discontinued in 2014 and has subsequently not been maintained. Here is the list of some of the alternatives you can check out.
Dropbox is a great collaboration, file-sharing and backup tool, no doubt about it. Personally, I use it for all of my documents and when I used up the free 2 GB it offers, I gladly expanded my account to 50 GBs.
A few weeks ago, Dropbox revealed that it had a bug, allowing everyone to log into other people’s account using nothing more than a username. It was patched within a couple of hours, but the problem still stands – how to keep your data safe and for your eyes only in Dropbox?
The Right Answer? Data Encryption.
First of all, if you’re using any free (cloud) service, you should know enough to be careful with the data you’re uploading. Yes, they use super-duper encryption and data protection techniques, but none of it is in your control. For all as you know, I could make a Dropbox clone and get all of your confidential files, right? That’s the level of suspicion you must have when dealing with cloud storage apps.
The only right solution, aside from not uploading files into the cloud would be data encryption on your end. Whether it’s just a password protected archive or something more advanced is your decision. After all, you’re the only one who knows how important and/or confidential your files really are. Your contact list might be pretty important, but it’s not as important as those nuclear missile launch codes you have 😉
Using TrueCrypt to Protect Your Data in Dropbox
TrueCrypt is free, open source disk encryption software and you can get it for Windows, MacOS X and Linux. It’s practically a standard for desktop data encryption and even Dropbox itself recommends using TrueCrypt to its users.
One of the best features of TrueCrypt is that you can create an encrypted volume and place it into your Dropbox. Everything that you place inside that volume will be encrypted. If somehow anybody gets its hand on that volume, without your master password, the file will be useless, while still protected.
How To Use TrueCrypt to Encrypt Your Dropbox Data
The first step is to download and install TrueCrypt. Run the application and follow these few steps.
Now choose desired size of the container (should be smaller than your Dropbox account, obviously).
You can open up your Dropbox to see the file inside. It will already take up the amount of space you dedicated to it, although it’s still empty.
Put Your Files Inside the Encrypted Volume
To use this encrypted volume you just created, you’ll need to mount it. Mounting a drive means to tell your computer that this-or-that file should actually be treated as a drive, just like any other hard drive or USB flash memory stick.
Open up TrueCrypt again and click Select File. Find your TrueCrypt volume file in your Dropbox folder and select it. Click Mount or Auto-Mount and enter the password you created earlier in the steps.
Your encrypted file will now be visible in your computer as an additional hard drive and whatever you put inside will be encrypted and uploaded to Dropbox, where it will be encrypted again. Hopefully 😉
Title source image credit: Teamshatter.com