For Mac users with sensitive files, incriminating files or photos, or who are just a little paranoid (the right attitude to have if everyone is out to get you; and they are) encryption is an easy and inexpensive way to get a little more security.
Cheap, Cheaper, Cheapest
Mac, iPhone, and iPad users have dozens and dozens of apps that claim to secure files– documents, photos, audio, video, PDFs, et al– by encrypting them.
Recently I came across a couple of such apps with less than nominal price tags; one a more experienced and feature laden brother of the less expensive which is easier to use.
First on the list is Crypt, an inexpensive utility which encrypts files. 99-cents won’t get you much, though. Select a file in the Finder, drag and drop it on Crypt, click the Encrypt button, add a password, add a file name for the encrypted file, and you’re done.
It doesn’t get much easier than that. The password lets you open the encrypted file, ostensibly full of files you don’t want anyone else to see, and which won’t allow them to see the files without the password.
Second on the list is Cryptix, which packs in many more useful features to justify the truly nominal $3.99 price tag. You get encoding, encryption, compression, and hashing options, along with a wordlist and password generator. Cryptography options include AES, both 128-bit and 256-bit, Blowfish 447, Twofish, MD5 C and many others.
Cryptix has been around many years and does not get updated often. Maybe it doesn’t need to, but you won’t find a similar utility at a similar price that performs the same functions on a Mac.
Finally, there’s free. And not free ‘as in beer’ or free as in ‘donationware’ but truly free encryption that comes built in to OS X. Click Applications > Utilities in the Finder and open Disk Utility. Click the New Image icon in the Toolbar and add a file name for your encryption.
Near the bottom of the drop down window you’ll see this.
You’ll be creating a Mac disk image so select the name, size, and file format as needed. Then select the Encryption option. You’ll be prompted to enter a password. What you get is a secure disk image that’s encrypted and password protected. For free. It doesn’t have the options of Cryptix but it works well; fast, easy, free. Move the disk image file wherever you wish. Without the password no one is getting access to the files.
Encryption utilities come in many flavors with a laundry list of capabilities, but success usually depends upon a good encryption scheme and a good password.