Why and How to Encrypt Your Files on mac OS – Encrypting files may seem like something trivial and unnecessary for everyone to do. But it’s something we all need to do to keep our data safe.
Why is it necessary to encrypt files?
If you don’t hide any important data or files, why would you worry about your privacy? The fact is that we all have something we must protect our privacy. It is very dangerous if our important files are not properly protected, because now everyone is connected to the internet, data theft can be done anytime, from anywhere and by anyone without knowing it.
There are other factors besides personal privacy to consider with encryption. If you store proprietary information on a laptop, it would be foolish to protect it with just your login password.
What is Encryption?
Encryption is the process of hiding data so that unauthorized parties cannot read it. The principle is the same as writing a message to your friend in code. Encryption is a way of scrambling data so that only authorized parties can understand the information. In technical terms, it is the process of converting plain text to cipher text. In simpler terms, encryption takes readable data and transforms it so that it appears random.
In its modern incarnation, computational encryption relies on mathematical operations that can be performed quickly in one direction but are extremely difficult to perform in reverse. If calculations can be done quickly toward “forward” when encrypting files, the algorithm will be fast. If running the “backward” math to decrypt files without the key takes a large scale of time, then the encryption will be difficult to break.
Commonly used encryption algorithms include:
- RC4, RC5, RC6
FileVault is a part of every Mac. Since Yosemite arrived, FileVault is enabled by default for every new installation. FileVault works by encrypting your entire hard drive. The key to unlocking this encryption is your password. This means that without your password, your data cannot be read. You will also have a recovery code, and you can also sign in with your iCloud account. If you lose all that, your data will be encrypted forever.
To check if you have FileVault enabled, visit the “Security & Privacy” panel under System Preferences. Then, click on the FileVault tab. If the button on the right says “Turn On FileVault”, you have disabled it. Unlock the panel and click on that button to start the encryption process.
VeraCrypt is an open source file encryption software on Mac OS that creates encrypted volumes. This can be a non-boot physical volume, such as a USB drive or disk partition, but it can also be a logical volume, such as a disk image (DMG). You can choose from a wide variety of encryption standards, including AES, which is the method currently approved by the US government.
Veracrypt is powerful and widely used by users, but it does require some setup. The program itself relies on another utility, MacFUSE, to run, which needs to be installed separately. And once you’ve created a volume with VeraCrypt, you’ll need to mount it inside VeraCrypt to view files.
Concealer basic functions are similar to VeraCrypt. It creates logical volume encrypted files on Mac OS to which you can add files to it. It is slightly more user-friendly than VeraCrypt but offers significantly fewer options. As with most encryption programs, once you have created an encrypted volume through Concealer, you will always need to access it via Concealer.
Concealer also offers additional functionality as a password manager / payment info. It provides an easy way to store passwords and encrypt credit card or bank account numbers.
Encrypto is the most user-friendly file encryption software on Mac OS that I have ever used. It encrypts a single file with a password – that’s all. You drag and drop files into the Encrypto window, and they are encrypted with the password you choose. To decrypt, drag the file back into Encrypto and enter your password. Behind the tarpaulin, Encrypto uses AES-256, which is robust and standard. There’s no option to change anything, but the simple nature of the process makes it easy to use. And the best encryption is the encryption you actually use.
Keka / 7Zip
You know about ZIP files, and you might even know you can add passwords to them. Here’s the thing: it’s basically useless as security. Attackers can see the names and metadata associated with files in a standard, password-protected ZIP archive. The 7zip encryption mode helps solve this problem by encrypting the filenames of the archive constituents along with the files themselves.
The default compression tool on your Mac can’t handle 7zip, so you’ll need a separate program to implement it. The best option currently available is called Keka, and it’s really easy to use. You pre-configure the security settings you want to apply, drag your files into the window, and boom: you get an encrypted 7zip archive alongside your original files. To decrypt a file, open it in Finder and enter the password in the small Keka window that appears.
Encryption is still possible to solve, but at least it is very strong to protect your important data files from irresponsible people with non-professional abilities. And you should always use this easy-to-do encryption to protect every important file to keep it safe and quiet. And that’s some software for file encryption on mac OS and an explanation of encryption. Hopefully useful and good luck 🙂