Encrypting files to secure them from government spooks, hackers, or anyone else who thinks something of yours should belong to them is easy. Turn on File Vault in the Mac’s System Preferences (under Security & Privacy), wait a day or so for the files to encrypt and everything is secured by a very important password.
Not every Mac user needs to encrypt everything because not everything is dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands. The number of ways to encrypt files and secure them from others has increased in recent years. Apple even builds in a free way to encrypt files (more on that in a moment).
One of the easiest and yet most secure methods to encrypt and secure files is with a professional level encryption tool called EncryptStick. There’s a trial version that works for a couple of weeks so you can test it out (Mac, Windows, Linux PCs). What EncryptStick does is rather straightforward.
First, drag and drop the files or folders of files you want to encrypt onto EncryptStick. Select the type of encryption you prefer (128-bit, 256-bit, or 512-bit AES encryption). Click, and you’re done. These encrypted vaults can be stored on your Mac, or Windows and Linux PCs. Even a USB stick, or uploaded to Dropbox or other cloud services for safe keeping.
Each vault is dynamically sized to use only the space needed for the files contained inside. Even if someone steals your Mac with the EncryptStick app on it, they still need the vault’s password to open the files.
There’s much to like here. EncryptStick has a built-in file shredder to securely delete files on your Mac. The app auto locks when you step away from your Mac for a period of time, and the instant lock feature wipes everything from RAM, files, clipboard, cache, secure memory when you lock EncryptStick.
Yes, EncryptStick has a price tag and some limitations on how many machines it can be used. Apple provides something similar in OS X, though not as secure or as easy to use. Open Disk Utility in Applications > Utilities. Select New Image from the toolbar. Give it a name, select the size of the image vault, select an encryption method, click Create, add your files and folders, and give it a password. There are more steps to securing your files but built-in encryption for Mac users is free.