Cloud Storage: To Encrypt or to Not Encrypt

Recently Google Drive launched which for some people like myself who already subscribed to Google’s yearly plan of 20GB of storage turned out to be a wonderful thing. The reason being that this meant we were grandfathered into their lowest tear plan at the old price of $5.00 a year. Score! However while I was putting my files on Google Drive I had a feeling that I was doing something wrong. But what could it be? Did I subconsciously feel I was taking advantage of Google? Nah.

The funny feeling I was having was my common sense telling me “are you serious, why are you doing that?” I didn’t see the harm in what I was doing for a few days and I kept thinking “what, I want the drive space, I like Google, I (kinda) trust them.”

After some further thinking I summed up my uneasiness of the thought with this analogy. Let’s say your cool neighbor had a shared drive for the whole block to backup their data to. Let’s say he made sure each person couldn’t see the other person’s stuff, would you be cool with it? Yeah after all you like him, he’s your cool neighbor, right? Well you shouldn’t be and here’s why. First the obvious, why in the world would you trust your neighbor with your data no matter how useless you think your data is? Second how do you know that neighbor has taken the correct precautions to ensure your data isn’t looked at by others? And last how do you know that neighbor doesn’t have an evil brother that looks through all you and your other neighbor’s stuff to get the information to take out credit cards in your names? Don’t do it without taking precautions yourself. Encrypt!

So with that in mind I armed myself with some tools to make sure my data was encrypted before I uploaded it to Google’s servers. I downloaded TrueCrypt (free) and created a 300MB volume for my super private data. The limitation of this is that once your encrypted volume runs of out of space you would have to create a larger volume and transfer your files over which could be time consuming. So in addition to a TrueCrypt volume I also encrypted some standalone files using GPGTools (free) which in addition allowing me to encrypt standalone files, it also allows me to store keys and send encrypted emails. This time I think Score! is appropriate.

Check out this video showing how simple encryption is using GPGTools.

Though these methods for protecting your data can be time consuming. It will be time well spent if it means keeping your identity from being stolen and having to deal with the hassle, or keeping a rogue Google employee from sifting through user data in search of some valuable information, or keeping the government off your back for something you are writing which pushes free speech.