Just how safe is the data that you store in cloud-based services like Dropbox? While they claim to use SSL and AES-256 standard encryption on your files, there have been many complaints about the validity of their data security claims.
Needless to say, to be on the safe side you need to take matters into your own hands for extra protection. For Linux, we have discussed encryption such as the SecretSync and Encfs. For Mac, BoxProtect will provide the similar encryption service.
BoxProtect is a free encryption service for Mac, though also compatible with Linux, that can be used to encrypt your cloud storage data. Currently they only support Dropbox, but more cloud-based services will be added in the future.
There are three different versions of BoxProtect for Mac. You’ll need to choose the version compatible with your Mac OS (Snow Leopard, Lion or Mountain Lion).
Once you run the dmg file and open up BoxProtect for the first time, it will attempt to automatically detect where your Dropbox folder is located. If it can’t find it, you’ll have to select it manually.
Next, you’ll be prompted to setup a protected folder within Dropbox. Of course, BoxProtect won’t find one at first since this is your first time using the service.
Your protected folder will be called .BoxProtect (notice the period at the front of the name? That means this is a hidden folder) – you can’t change the name of the folder. You’ll need to enter your desired password for the folder and then click on Create. Make sure you jot down the password just in case you forget it.
Lastly, you’ll see a message letting you know that your protected folder is mounted. You’ll then be able to view it under Devices in Finder.
You’ll notice that there is a new icon on your menu bar. From here you can access “Settings and Info” for BoxProtect. You can also see the status of your drive (mounted or unmounted).
Whenever you want to encrypt a file, all you have to do is drag it to your BoxProtect virtual drive. Everything stored here is “automatically encrypted and then written into a hidden subfolder of your Dropbox folder.” So don’t expect to see the folder in your Dropbox; you can only see the data in your BoxProtect drive.
You can mount and eject the BoxProtect virtual drive whenever you want to. When mounting, you’ll have to enter the password and once you do that, anyone with access to your computer can see the files. However, once you eject the drive, your files are hidden and inaccessible.
BoxProtect also has an iOS app for the iPhone and iPod Touch, which you can use to access your protected files from your mobile device.
You’ll need your password to access your protected folder and then you’ll be able to browse, add and modify your files just like on your Mac.
It’s really convenient to have a mobile app, however, do you think it’s an inconvenience since the app is separate from Dropbox?
BoxProtect definitely meets a need that all Mac users will have at one time or another: data protection. Not only does it protect your private data and sensitive files, it can also completely hide them from your Dropbox account and computer.
It’s a good idea to keep BoxProtect ejected when not in use; this is a great way to keep your personal information completely safe. You never know when you may have to step away from your computer or if/when your computer may get hacked. Keeping it ejected means keeping your information away from prying eyes and imposters.
Do you use a data encryption service on your Mac or with your Dropbox account? If so, which service do you use? Do you prefer to encrypt your entire computer or just specific files (like with BoxProtect). Please share in the comments.
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