Dropbox is an extremely popular data backup and synchronization service that is adopted by its users mostly because of its simplicity and performance. But as with any other online storage service you can never be sure about the privacy of data that you are putting in there (despite what the company claims). I know that many of these services does offer enhanced encryption when transferring the data from your computer to the cloud and some even store it on their servers in the encrypted form. This way they avoid the eavesdropping from another third party but what if the service itself becomes a bad guy (any company employee etc.) ? In that case they can see your sensitive data such as login information, passwords, credit card numbers etc. and any other information that you might be storing in the cloud. It is true that the probability of this happening is very thin but still you never know. Only way to achieve a 100% piece of mind about your data to be secure is to take some proactive measures before putting your data in the cloud.
Actually there are many ways you can ensure the privacy of your data in the cloud. One that I am going to recommend is based on the use of excellent free and open source encryption software TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt is a security and privacy software that enforces your data privacy using on-the-fly transparent disk encryption(OTFE). What OTFE means is that, it supports the creation of virtual containers that stores all the files/data that you want to secure and are encrypted with strong encryption algorithms. Data stored in the containers can easily be accessed (Read/Write) by mounting the desired container as a local disk. It appears as any other normal disk drive in your My Computer and all the data written to that disk is automatically encrypted and data read from the virtual disk is automatically de-encrypted on the fly in RAM. I have already written about it in detail and still to this day it has no real competitor in terms of powerful features, customizability and speed.
Real trick lies in creating a secure container for all of your data in the Dropbox folder and then putting your data in that container. Lets take a simple example! First estimate the total size of sensitive data that you want to put in Dropbox (and probably synchronize with the other computers). Say you estimated a size of 400MB then I would recommend to create a container using the TrueCrypt software in the Dropbox folder of at least 500 MB. As a slightly larger size will allow you to put more data in future (just in case a need arises). After creating this container (in the Dropbox folder) mount it. After mounting the container that you just created it will appear in My Computer as any other local drive. Now put all your data that you want to secure in this drive. After you are done just dismount this drive from the TrueCrypt interface. As soon as you dismount it Dropbox client will start to synchronize the contents of this TrueCrypt container with the cloud. For the first time synchronization it may take a bit more time but for the later synchronizations it should be faster because Dropbox uses Delta synchronization technique which ensures than only the modified parts of a file are transferred to the cloud which makes it very fast. Now, whenever you want to update your data (or access it later on) that you just secured, you will mount the TrueCrypt container and it then access it as a local drive in My Computer. Make sure that whenever you are done to dismount the container otherwise Dropbox will not be able to sync the content to your online storage account!
Of course this trick will work not only for Dropbox but for any other cloud storage based data backup/synchronization service as well such as SugerSync. If you want to see a comparison of the Dropbox with the SugarSync take a look here.
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