I read an article review of an app described as " This MacBook Security App Uses NSA-Approved Technology ." Whoa. Really? Cool. Or, I thought. As it turns out, it was more a marketing item than it was actually NSA-approved technology to secure a Mac Notebook.
The $ 20 app was on sale and heavily promoted by a technology home (they often get a cut from such-called sales ). Anyway, I checked it out. NSA-approved technology turned out to be AES-256-bit encryption available for free. On your Mac.
Embedded vs. added
Personally, I think the cat is out of the bag, the milk has spilled out, the horse has left the barn, and the toothpaste will not go back into the tube. These are ways to say that governments will not be able to stop encryption, despite heavy-handed intervention in Russia, China and other totalitarian states. You know, like the good old United States of A. Here's what good encryption does and why the government wants to stop it or own all the back doors.
Encryption encrypts a file (or files or folders with files or an entire computer with files) so that only authorized persons with the correct password can open and view the files. How do you encrypt files for storage? How do you share encrypted files with others? Fortunately, there are many, many ways to encrypt files. Here are two. Both simple. Both free. One is better than the other. Either will keep the government and hackers in check until the laws are changed that prohibit such encryption.
A free, but not so simple, method to encrypt files for storage or sharing is already built into your Mac. Open the Applications folder, then open the Utilities folder, and then open the Disk Utility app. You create a secure disk image to store files; everything nicely and securely encrypted. Click the New Image button in the top toolbar. Name the encrypted disk image, select the size, file format, and encryption type.
When you are finished, you will be prompted for the important password needed to retrieve the files or share them with others. The step-by-step process gives you an encrypted disk image of files or folders with files that can be sent and shared with others (including Windows PC users) or stored elsewhere for security.
It's free, but full of a few confusing steps for the average Mac user.
Better And Free
Or, if you just want fast and easy, and don't want to wade through Apple's Disk Utility menus, and you plan to send encrypted files to other Mac and Windows PC users, and you have a budget, you can use the free Encrypto app to do just about the same thing, but faster, easier and with similar secure encryption – drag and drop.
I'm not sure you can make encrypted files much easier than using Encrypto, and kudos to the developers for making it free and available on both Mac and Windows.
Encrypto uses highly secure 256-bit AES encryption. Drag any file or folder containing files to Encrypto. Click the large Encrypt button. Add a passphrase to remember or share with others when sharing encrypted files. Then share with the built-in sharing button – Mail, AirDrop, Messages. Encrypted files from your Mac can also be sent to Windows users. All they need is the password phrase to open the file.
The only negative is that no matter where you send the encrypted files – to Mac or Windows users – just make sure they have the Encrypto app installed as well. And there is no iPhone or iPad version. That would be a plus, although transferring files to Mac is a modest step.
That said, simple, secure and free is good.
Here's the problem. Governments around the world do not really want to stop personal encryption. They understand the value of privacy and the need for security. What they want in exchange for letting us encrypt files, folders, devices and communications is access to the back doors . Think of it as a special key that allows state governments to access our encrypted information.
On the surface it sounds like an acceptable way to prevent or track terrorism and terrorists. Here is a short list of problems. First, the government is allowed to decide who and what entities to access. Second, any access to the back door can be lost or stolen, which means no one has security anymore. Third, criminals, hackers and terrorists can write their own encryption, which has no access to the back door, which nevertheless crashes the government.
What we see is a race between Apple and others that promotes privacy and security for individuals and authorities who want access. Already, a Mac, iPhone, iPad (and other devices and platforms) can be fully encrypted and only accessed via a single password. In the future, such encryption may require a combination of voice analysis, facial recognition, fingerprint analysis, and passwords.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep files and folders even more private with free encryption tools such as encryption. In the future, such applications may be banned or required to provide keys to the government as Russia wishes to do in the case of the popular and highly secure Telegram messaging app.