Data encryption for the cloud.

Lately I’ve been using SkyDrive and DropBox to keep backups of my files. Before trusting them with my data I reviewed their security policies and was assured that they use strong encryption and security measures in place to protect the data. I thought that was sufficient enough to begin using them as my backup.

Recently it’s dawned on me there’s still that risk of some hacker finding some way to break in even the most secure of servers and helping himself to the treasure trove of data stored within. To counter that risk I decided to see if there’s a way to make my data even more secure in the cloud.

BoxCryptor is one solution I found and it works really well. It seamlessly integrates with DropBox, SkyDrive, Google Drive or your preferred cloud-based file storage service.

When installed, BoxCryptor creates its own folder in your storage service’s local folderĀ  and then sets up a drive letter of your choosing to map to that folder. Anything you copy to the Boxcryptor folder will be encrypted on the fly and synchronized to the cloud-based file storage service of your choice.

I use BoxCryptor on both SkyDrive and DropBox and can easily switch it from one account to the other. I like the extra layer of data security it provides.

I’ve given thought to protecting my data even further by using TrueCrypt to create encrypted file containers for my data and uploading them through BoxCryptor. While that adds even more security, the minor downside to this is typing in my password to open these file containers but it just might work to keep my data even more secure in the cloud.

I know, it’s starting to sound like I’m up to something no good by hiding my data like this. The only thing I’m really up to is giving those hackers such nasty headaches they’ll need aspirin-flavored milkshakes.

UPDATE: Just after posting this I did decide to use TrueCrypt to create an encrypted file container for my files. The file container is 46MB in size and is taking a long time to upload to the cloud. Alas, that could be another downside to this whole thing.

The perils of unsecured Wi-Fi.

This story stresses the importance of securing your wireless router. If left unsecured, not only can your neighbors or anybody within range get on your network, they can also engage in illegal online activities with your Internet connection. Even worse, when the authorities show up at your door, you’ll be the one in trouble even though you didn’t do anything and proving your innocence from that point will be difficult. I can imagine how emotionally draining this must be.
Not surprisingly, there are other wireless networks within range of mine and only one of those is unsecured. I can only hope its owner takes the needed steps to secure it soon.
If you have a wireless router and haven’t secured it already, take a few minutes and configure your wireless network to require a password to log on and use one of the router’s security modes, preferably WPA2-Personal. It may be a hassle to set up a password on your router and then configure your wireless device to use that password, but this only needs to be done once.
I have my own wireless network at home and can appreciate the need to implement security measures to keep my network safe from hackers. I use the WPA2-Personal mode myself and generated the 63-character pre-shared key using KeePass Password Safe, complete with letters, numbers and symbols. I change this pre-shared key every few months.
Your wireless router should have a built-in web site for configuring and securing your network (usually 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.0.254). You should also create a password for logging on the router itself for added security.
For even more security and if your wireless router supports it, enable the Wireless MAC filter and select the option to allow only the listed PC’s to access your wireless network. Then edit the list accordingly to allow only your wireless devices to access the network.
There may be some extra work involved in implementing these security measures, but once everything’s configured and secure, the peace of mind that follows is priceless.

Freeware file shredder.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, just deleting a file doesn’t completely erase it. There are programs out there that easily can recover these deleted files. Not good if the file contains confidential information. If you truly want to delete a program, you need to run it through a file shredder, so to speak. These programs overwrite your file multiple times before deleting it. One program I like is Freeraser. Just drag the file to be shredded to its cool-looking wastebasket icon and it’s instantly shredded as you watch the slick animation of the wastebasket destroying the evidence. The peace of mind it delivers is worth the wait.

Imaginary telnet server.

If you want to keep hackers away from your computer and have some fun in the process, check out the Imaginary Telnet Server. When a hacker tries to connect to your computer via telnet, the server kicks in and fools him into thinking that he’s just connected to a top secret computer network. When he tries logging in, the server responds with some humorous responses at each login failure.
At this point the hacker is likely to use a password cracking program and force his way in, but the server is ready for that too. It sends out fake data until the server “discovers” the intruder and disconnects him.
The documentation does makes it clear that you are not at risk just because you’re not running a telnet server. But some spyware programs are capable of installing a means of allowing hackers to telnet to your computer. In that case you definitely want to be ready. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to make these hackers’ lives a little miserable either.
The assembly language source code is included with the download. Definitely read it for all the wacky responses the server sends out.

Blow up your computer.

If you’re fed up with your computer, don’t just kick it. Send it off to Michigan to have it blown up instead. These guys employ a special technology that can render your hard disk completely unreadable by sending it flying into the trees at extremely high speeds. Then nature lends a helping hand by sending a bear to eat your hard disk to turn your data into bear poop. Truly, there is no stronger method of destroying your data.