Android

Andrognito: Hide files and folders with 3-layer encryption on your Android device

If you're looking for a third-party app to hide your sensitive files, Jack Wallen has just the solution for you in Andrognito.

Andrognito

You have sensitive data on your Android device and you want to keep it from prying eyes. There are plenty of ways to achieve this. One of my new favorite methods is with the Andrognito tool. This free piece of software, found in the Google Play Store, allows you to hide and unhide just about anything on your device. What is nice about this software is that, once hidden, not even you can view it. For all intents and purposes, those hidden files cannot be viewed. One they're unhidden, it's as if they never disappeared.

Features

Angrognito has the following features.

  • 3-layer encryption engine
  • Hides file like: documents, images, videos, ZIP, and even apps
  • Supports vault locking with dynamic time-based PIN
  • Stealth mode (to deceive intruders into a fake vault)
  • Hide Andrognito app with Invisible mode (launched from dialer)
  • Automatic app locking for 15 minutes (after three failed login attempts)

The one caveat to using Andrognito is that it's not terribly intuitive. But once you know how to use it, you're good to go. That's where I come in. So, let's get this app installed and put it to use.

Installation

The installation is quite simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
  2. Search for Andrognito
  3. Locate and tap the entry by CODEX
  4. Tap Install
  5. Read the permissions listing carefully
  6. If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
  7. Allow the installation to complete

Usage

Before we begin, you need to know about the two types of hiding: Flash and Normal. With Normal mode, files are securely kept in special containers and cannot be viewed before unhiding them. In Flash mode, files are hidden very quickly, but the security is minimal (and some files can be still be viewed from within applications).

The first time Andrognito might trip you up is at the login screen. Initially, it seems like the app requires registration to be used. This is just to include your name along with your four-digit PIN (to access the app). So, in the registration screen (Figure A), enter your name, a four-digit PIN, and then tap Register.

Figure A

Figure A

Registering Andrognito on a Verizon-branded LG G3.

Once you've registered, you'll have to swipe through some introductory pages. Eventually, you'll land on the main window (Figure B). This is where you add/remove files/folders for hiding.

Figure B

Figure B

The Andrognito main window.

Here are the steps to hide a folder:

  1. Tap the plus sign [+] in the upper right corner
  2. Read through and OK the disclaimer
  3. Search through the file manager to locate the folder that you want to hide
  4. Long-press that folder (Figure C) — it will have a green check when selected
  5. Tap either the lock (for Normal mode) or the lightning icon (for Flash mode)

Figure C

Figure C

Selecting a folder for hiding.

That's it. The folder is now hidden and cannot be seen. I chose a folder of images. Had I hid this folder using the Flash method, the files might still appear in Gallery, only they wouldn't be visible (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

In Flash mode, you can see the file exists, but you can't see it.

Had I hid these files in Normal mode, the files wouldn't even appear in the Gallery app.

To unhide that folder, follow these steps:

  1. From the main window, swipe from the left edge to the right
  2. Tap the Files entry (Figure E)
  3. In the new window, you should see your hidden folder, so tap it to select
  4. Tap the lock icon to unhide the folder

Figure E

Figure E

Unhiding a hidden folder.

Hiding the app

If you want to hide the app from prying eyes (to make it even more secure), do the following:

  1. From the main window, swipe from the left edge to the right
  2. Tap Settings
  3. Slide the ON/OFF button (for Stealth Mode) to the ON position
  4. Tap the checkbox for Enable Invisible Mode

Even if the app launcher still exists on the home screen, if it's tapped, you'll see an App Is Not Installed warning. To get back into the app, you need to open the dialer, enter your PIN, and tap the Call button. This will then take you to the Andrognito welcome screen. Enter your PIN again, and you're in.

Finally, you can add yet another layer of security using the TimelyPIN Lock. This is a dynamic, time-based PIN to protect your vault. The TimelyPIN uses a four-digit PIN that changes, depending on the pattern and modifier you choose. The pattern is either an hour/minute pattern (depends on the hour and minute of your current system clock) or data/month (depends upon the date and month of your current system calculator). The modifiers are:

  • Normal — PIN is unchanged. If the time is 9:20, then the PIN is 0920
  • Reverse — reverses the PIN. If the time is 9:20, then the PIN is 0290
  • Swap — swaps the two portions of the pin. If the time is 9:20, then the PIN is 2009
  • Alternate — completely reverses the PIN. If the time is 9:20, then the PIN is 0290

To activate the TimelyPIN, go back to the Andrognito Settings window and scroll down to TIME BASED LOCK. Tap the ON/OFF switch to the ON position (Figure F), and then tap to select your Pattern and Modifier.

Figure F

Figure F

Setting up TimelyPIN in Andrognito.

Andrognito is a great way to hide sensitive files from prying eyes. It's not overly challenging, plus it's incredibly stable and usable for a beta. Give this app a try, and see if it doesn't give you the added security you've been looking for.

What tools do you use to obfuscate your sensitive data on your Android devices? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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