A few weeks ago, I mentioned how we had a Friday the 13th from hell. I started telling the story, but never finished it. Sadly enough, I am not going to finish it. I don’t think there is a way to do it without causing a lot of discussion I’m not in the mood to have. But I will share with you the moral of the story.
As many of you are getting ready for HNT and who have files on your computer you would rather not have people see or read or access, I would like to recommend some security software that encrypts and secures these files. Even if they are buried deep on your computer’s hard drive, the risk of someone seeing them is still there. And, if you have a laptop, this should be just something you do. Period. To all of your files. Laptops are easy to steal, and there are back doors to get to data regardless of what Microsoft or Apple will tell you. (Trust me, I’ve had to use them to recover files!)
Before I recommend encryption options, you must first understand that you can NOT lose the password. If you do, your files are gone. This is the risk of using this software – you forget it, you are out of luck. The software company will not help you. Why? Because how can they tell it is your files and not your neighbor’s files? They can’t, so you are SOL. If you proceed, you had better have a good password remembering strategy. And under your keyboard is not one of them. And, don’t trust your IT person with your password either. I’m just saying. If you have a safe or a lockbox, might I recommend putting a password list in there (you can include the password for encryption).
Lastly, if you go down this path, you must all raise your right hands and repeat after me:
promise not to install any of this software on my work computer. I understand that if I do this, no amount of beer, cookies or other bribes will get me out of the mess I will be in with my IT department. I also understand that yelling, begging, crying, or bribing will not do anything but annoy the IT person called. If I feel I need a solution for work, I will go to the nice IT people and tell them my problem. Then I will use whichever solution they provide me with, without complaint.”
Had to do that just to cover my bases as these are the worst calls to get if you are in IT because you can’t do anything. Seriously, if you feel the need for something at work, go talk to the IT guys. They aren’t all jerks.
For Mac users, I would recommend “goSecure” by GoGoalSoft. It’s $20 and is extremely simple to use. You open the application, and drag the file or folder you want to encrypt onto the “vault”. It will ask for the password you would like to use, then it encrypts the folder. By default, it does not auto-delete the folder you are encrypting. You will need to either check this option before it begins, or you need to delete it afterwards. To open an encrypted folder, double click on the file and enter your password. The program will restore the folder to its original state, but keep the encrypted file in tact too. Very simple. (Just remember to delete the restored folder when you are done.)
I now have personal experience with this application and would strongly recommend it especially for someone who is not necessarily the most adept user.
For PC users, I would recommend EncryptOnClick. A free version is available and it looks as easy to use as goSecurity. Heck, I think there is a chance it is simplier. I did read conflicting reports on its compatibility with Vista, but have not confirmed because I
won’t don’t run Vista. They do have a $30 OnClick utilities with encryption that is definitely compatible.
Full disclosure, I have not used this package as I do not have any files on my home PC that I worry about. It is, however, the one I would download and recommend based on my research.
Another open-source option is TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt has compatibility with Macs, Windows, and Linux. And, since it is open-source, it is free. I should warn you that you should be a little geeky if you want to go this route. The application can get pretty confusing fast without someone who has the patience to go through it. And isn’t scared of things looking more complex than they really are. There is a good quick start guide on the site. The beauty of this program is the fact it can encrypt a files/folders on your hard drive or on a flash drive, memory card, etc. This program is the most flexible of the three if you want to be able to encrypt multiple devices.
Again – not a package I have used, but would use on the PC that only I use in the house.
There you go – go off and encrypt those naked files of yourself – or half naked files of yourself. Trust me, it’s an embarrassment you do not want.