Siwicki

Three Ways To Get Started with Encryption

March 16, 2016

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Your data is yours, and you should be able to do whatever you want to do with that data. For example, if we use a Google product we opt into a certain amount of tracking and such to allow certain things to be free. However, with all of that tracking and data scraping they do things that we simply don’t know about. Although we are okay with Google getting into our data, we are not with other company or even law enforcement agencies.

We use cloud-based software for nearly everything these days. If there is not a sync or a backup option, I don’t want it. I am writing this in an app that syncs all my writing to iCloud on my Mac.

The encryption and privacy of our digital lives has been in the news a ton lately with the iOS encryption case.

If I was going to break down all of the cloud services that I use on a regular basis, the list would be stupidly long. I have at least five different cloud storage accounts and who knows how many different chat apps.

There are a ton of apps that focus on encryption and other types of security that don’t track everything that you do. A lot of them have to charge, and that might be something that is a deterrent which prevents people from making a switch. For example, we have been trained for the last ten years to expect email to be “free.”

For this roundup of apps we will see what we can do for email, storage, and chatting. These are probably the most used functions on a daily basis.

Email

When it comes to email it is almost impossible not to use Gmail. Gmail has become the standard in email. They feature list is long, storage space is plentiful, and it integrates nicely with Drive and anyone with an Android phone.

This is going to be one of the hardest things to give up. However, I have been in a beta for a new email product called ProtonMail.

ProtonMail uses client-side encryption to protect emails and user data. When you login, you have a username and password and then a password to decrypt your mailbox.

ProtonMail also has a cool feature that allows you to set an expiration time on email.

Storage

If you have a Google account, you have a Google Drive account. There are a lot of people out there who most likely have a few different accounts. There are even startups that position themselves as combining all of your free cloud storages into one account.

One app that is worth looking at if you want to get away from the cloud storage is BitTorrent Sync, which takes the angle of being a personal cloud. The sync and the access depend on your storage sizes. This is a perfect app to run on a NAS hard drive or a home server that you always live on, because if there is no access to the files then you can see them in the other apps.

There a ton of different options and use cases for Sync. I like that Sync allows for placeholder files for your big files, and you only have to download them as you need them.

If you are looking for something closer to Dropbox, Tresorit is a cloud storage provider that claimed that “Data is encrypted before it leaves your device. Only you and those who you share with can access your data.”

They even offer up a bounty for hackers to gain access to their systems. According to their website, nobody has yet achieved such a thing.

Chat

When it comes to chatting there are not a whole lot of options. As many companies are aiming to control this space, there is one app, Signal, that is a leader in encryption and privacy. I only heard about this app when it was mentioned that it was the app Edward Snowden recommend.

Signal is the only private messenger that uses open source peer-reviewed cryptographic protocols to keep your messages safe.

Now, I am not sure 100% what that means, but it sounds very solid. The app also allows for making calls as well,

Convenience, Price, and Sign Ups

There are some amazing apps out there that could provide a quality level of privacy to your online communication and day-to-day process, however, a lot of these apps don’t have the firepower behind them. Everything down to the design, the UX and even the price of them is all something that is going to be hard for some of us to swallow.

I have had the same email address for ten years, so the process of changing these apps is a pain. Getting buy-in from your friends and family to change apps is another thing that is a huge pain for some.

However, I definitely do want to support companies that take this issue and privacy seriously.


John SiwickiWritten by John Siwicki who lives and works building interesting things. You should follow him on Twitter