Follow-Up: How Private is Your Genealogy Information?

Yesterday, I published an article entitled How Private is Your Genealogy Information? That article is still available at: http://bit.ly/2r4m26g. In that article, I strongly suggested encrypting any sensitive information stored in your computer’s hard drive, on flash drives, or in any cloud-based file storage service. Encryption keeps your private information private.

A newsletter reader then asked a very simple question: “How do I encrypt my info?”

The question is simple although the answer is a bit more complex. I decided to post my answer here in a separate article so that everyone could read my reply:

Good question! The quick answer is: “It all depends upon your computer.”

For instance, every Macintosh includes an encryption program that will encrypt part or all of the disk, called FileVault. It is turned off when you first receive the Mac but can be turned on at any time. You can read more by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=filevault&t=h_&atb=v66-7&ia=web

Anyone using Windows Home (the version used by most home users of Windows) do not have any encryption program included with their copy of Windows. However, many other companies do offer encryption programs for Windows. Some of the programs are free while others cost money. For more information, go to Google or to DuckDuckGo.com and search for: windows encryption

Anyone using Windows Pro (the version of Windows used by most corporations) already has an encryption program included that will encrypt part or all of the disk. It is turned off when you first receive the Windows Pro system but can be turned on at any time. For more information, look at: https://www.howtogeek.com/234826/how-to-enable-full-disk-encryption-on-windows-10/

Anyone using Linux has several free encryption programs to choose from. For more information, start at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=linux+encryption&t=h_&atb=v66-7&ia=web

Anyone using an Apple iPad or iPhone already has excellent encryption. In one recent, famous case, even the FBI could not crack into an encrypted iPhone. For more information, look at my recent articles by starting at: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aprivacyblog.com+fbi+iphone&t=h_&atb=v66-7&ia=web

For anyone using an Android cell phone or tablet, Google introduced full-device encryption back in Android Gingerbread (2.3.x). In addition, several other companies also provide encryption products for Android. To find them, use your Android device to go to the Play Store and search for: encryption. Android users also should read the article at: https://www.howtogeek.com/141953/how-to-encrypt-your-android-phone-and-why-you-might-want-to/

For storing your files in the cloud (a file storage service in the Internet), the answers are a bit more complex. File storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, and others have either no encryption or mediocre encryption. In most cases, the employees of those services can view your files. Of course, if a government agency or a law enforcement agency asks for your private files, those companies will provide anything that is requested. Hackers may or may not be able to access your files on services that use weak encryption.

HOWEVER, a few cloud-based file storage services include heavy-duty encryption. Even the employees of those services cannot see the contents of your files, nor can hackers. If a government agency or a law enforcement agency asks for your private files, those companies will not be able to provide anything. These encrypted file storage serviuces in the cloud are MORE SECURE than saving information on your own computer’s hard drive! Some examples of cloud-based file services with heavy-duty encryption include: Mega.nz, SafeSync, SwissDisk, Tresorit, IDrive, SpiderOak, and undoubtedly some others that I have never heard of or cannot remember at this moment.

How important is the security of YOUR information?

3 Comments

Thank you!

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So, if I understand correctly, if I have FileVault turned on, I only need to log in to my computer with my password, and everything is decrypted right away so that I’m not spending time decrypting each individual file I want to access on the computer?
But when I am logged out of my computer or it sleeps, thus logging me out, everything is immediately encrypted again?
And I assume it’s better to use some sort of application to encrypt files BEFORE I save them to the cloud?? I just wouldn’t be able to view them on the cloud storage, but I’d have to download and decrypt them to view them again, correct??

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    —> I just wouldn’t be able to view them on the cloud storage, but I’d have to download and decrypt them to view them again, correct??

    FileVault ONLY encrypts files stored on the computer’s hard drive. If you copy those files to anything else, such as a flash drive or to a file storage service, those files are first automatically decrypted by FileVault, then copied IN PLAIN TEXT.

    Like

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