File encryption is all the rage these days. You know Apple is doing something good when they encrypt important communication and files on iPhone and iPad and the governments around the world squawk and moan and try to pass laws to force citizens to stop doing what the government already does.
Mac users who want to encrypt files on their Macs (to keep out prying eyes and prevent hackers and law enforcement agencies from finding incriminating evidence) have many choices. Two that I use are free and come with every Mac already. The other is easy to use, has more features, works and shares files on Windows PCs, iPhone, and iPad.
The first is called DriveLock and it’s free. To try. You know, sort of like test driving a Lamborghini. This may be the most complicated and feature laden file encryption utility you’ve ever used. If you can afford to use it.
DriveLock File encrypts files using the common AES-256 bit encryption method and applies encryption on both files and folders, both of which can be dropped onto GoogleDrive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud Drive, or a USB drive and shared with others without too much worry.
At least, you only have to worry about the password getting into the wrong hands. DriveLock works simply enough. Just drag and drop files or a folder of files onto DriveLock. Put another way, ‘Ziehen Sie weitere Ordner hierher.’
The free version of DriveLock has a few restrictions that differentiate it from the commercial versions. First, it’s free. Second, it encrypts files only up to 1GB, and it’s licensed for personal use.
Two commercial versions remove the encrypted file size restriction and offer phone support and a few other goodies. They’re priced about right, but the DriveLock Executive Edition for five users tops out at nearly $765.
I know what you’re thinking. “What about those free encryption tools already on my Mac?”
OS X comes with an option called FileVault which you can turn on in Security & Privacy in System Preferences (how much do you want to bet that Apple changes the name to Settings to match iOS?). FileVault encrypts and secures all the files on your Mac. That’s one password or recovery key you don’t want to lose.
Nearly as easy, especially if you want to share files, is Disk Utility, found in the Utilities folder inside the Applications folder. Open Disk Utility, click on New Image, and follow the options. Each image can be encrypted and secured with a password, and easily shared with other Mac users.
Sometimes I worry about backdoors into encrypted files. When the government rages on about how much more secure we would be if they only had a backdoor into encrypted files makes me paraphrase a phrase from Shakespeare, “The government flack doth protest too much, methinks.” Maybe they already have a backdoor but don’t want anyone to know.