Dropbox is a great and simple tool for storing a little bit of data “in the cloud” for free.
But you should have no expectation of privacy when doing this – we know that government and law enforcement authorities can read your files and are actively doing so. You may choose to make the personal choice that you have nothing to hide, therefore you don’t mind others snooping around your stuff. But if you handle other people’s information in any way (e.g. you work with client data, pupil data, patient data, research data etc), exposing this data to (foreign) government authorities is not really an option you’re authorised to use. You have a duty to protect other people’s data you handle, particularly when you have been trusted to be a safe keeper of their data.
Therefore, if you want to use something like Dropbox while protecting your data, you should:
- Install the free TrueCrypt encryption software on your computer
- Create a TrueCrypt file container. This will be the file that will contain all sensitive files you need to protect. Let’s call it “private.tc”.
- When you open (“mount”) “private.tc” in TrueCrypt it will appear similar to a USB drive on your computer. Anything you save there, will be protected by the TrueCrypt container and will not be readable to others.
- Save & close (an operation called “unmount”) your new “private.tc” container.
- Now move “private.tc” in your Dropbox folder and wait for it to be uploaded to dropbox.
- Congratulations! Now your private data is “in the cloud”, but readable only by you, with the passphrase you setup for your private file container.