For a long time I’ve used services like Google Drive and Dropbox as a way to backup files from my computer for protection from loss and easy access while away from my apartment. The problem with putting your files “in the cloud” is that “the cloud” is actually just some one else’s computer. When you put your data on some one else’s computer, they can look at that data without you knowing or consenting.
This is especially problematic when you consider people like Condoleezza Rice are on DropBox’s board of directors and Google mines through all the data you give them in order to build a profile of you as a person so they can better target advertisements towards you.
The solution is to host a cloud you control. Ultimately this is what I want to do. I’d like to setup an instance of OwnCloud that I can then use to host my own data. That’s another weekend project though, and one that might take some planning. In the meantime, I’ve implimented a temporary solution that allows me to host my data on Google and DropBox’s services for backup, but that prevents them from accessing my data.
In the Autumn 2015 edition of 2600, Alva Ray wrote an article titled “A convenient method for cloud storage with preserved privacy.” In the Article, Ray described how using built in Mac OS X utilities, one could create an encrypted drive to store files and upload that to the cloud.
I don’t currently run and Mac OS X machines, so I decided to take the same concept and do it a little differently.
I downloaded a copy of VeraCrypt which is a fork of TrueCrypt. VeraCrypt allows you to create a file that you can mount as a virtual hard drive on your computer and place files into to be encrypted on the fly. VeraCrypt has a very easy to follow step-by-step picture tutorial here on how you can do this.
When you’re done adding files into your secure volume, it exists as a singular file that can then be added to your DropBox or Google Drive account. This file will then be uploaded to “the cloud” where it will exist as an unreadable black-hole on Google and DropBox’s servers.
The big downside to this arrangement is that your data is no longer quickly and easily accessible on mobile, and needs to be downloaded again before you can add or remove files to it, before re-uploading. Furthermore, you can’t easily share data from within this encrypted file.
Like I said, ultimately I’d like to host my own OwnCloud instance, but this is a temporary measure. (And was fun to try out)