What can you do to keep prying eyes– criminals, foreign hackers, or government spooks– from rummaging through your files at will? What can you do to utterly destroy information or evidence you do not want to fall into the wrong hands? There are two ways.
Encryption & Shredding
Color me a Mac user who believes that a little paranoia goes a long, long way. For example, on my Mac I use FileVault, macOS Sierra’s built-in file encryption option. You’ll find it in System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault. Apple gives you the option of both a login password and a recovery key. Lose both and you lose access to your Mac’s files.
Through the years I’ve become more careful about certain files on my Mac. Those I want to delete get shredded. Those I want to save get encrypted. Again. There are plenty of Mac apps that do the deeds. Here are the two I use. One is free. One is inexpensive. Both are perfect for those of use who maintain a little paranoia (it’s the right attitude to have if everyone is out to get you).
Encrypto – This free utility runs on both Mac and Windows PCs, and secures files with AES 256-bit encryption. Grab a bunch of files and folders you want encrypted and Encrypto does the deed. Add a password and you’re done. Don’t forget the password.
Not only does Encrypto make it drop dead easy to encrypt files, it also makes it easy to manage encrypted files with Hider 2, an add-on utility which puts encrypted files out of sight.
Even macOS Sierra comes with a relatively simple way to archive and encrypt files using the built-in Disk Utility. It’s a few more steps, but still offers good security.
What about shredding files you want to delete but not make them available to recover? Yes, there’s an app for that.
Shredo – Most Mac and PC users know that deleted files are not really deleted. Their visibility flag is turned off when you delete a file (empty the Trash) but the file remains until your Mac reclaims the space. Shredo lets you erase files and folders with one of three and more secure options.
This cleverly designed utility works much like Encrypto. Drag and drop. Grab the files or folders of files you want to erase (securely erase; not just delete), and drop them onto Shredo.
The app uses three data erase algorithms.
- 1-pass: very fast but less secure
- 7-pass: very secure but slower
- 35-pass: ultimate security, takes longer
Shredo also scans your Mac’s system files for browser history, cookies, and other privacy threats that can be eliminated.