In light of the recent debacle with the iCloud hack, it's nice to find out you can find some easy-to-use third-party tools on Android to encrypt your more sensitive files and folders. One such tool is Encdroid. This particular encryption tool creates volumes that are compatible with EncFS, so they can be read from Windows, Linux, and Mac. With Encdroid you can:
- Create new volumes
- Importing existing files into volumes
- Open files inside volumes by launching the chosen viewer application
- Create directories
- Cut/copy/paste files and directories from one location to another within a volume
- Rename files and directories
- Export files and directories from a volume onto the local device
Encdroid allows you to encrypt your files/folders with Dropbox, Google Drive, or the local storage of the device. The app is free and quite simple to use. Let's walk through the process of installing and using Encdroid to encrypt files and folders within Google Drive.
Here's how to install Encdroid:
- Open the Google Play Store on your Android device
- Search for Encdroid
- Locate and tap Encdroid by Mark Pariente
- Tap Install
- Read the permissions listing
- If the permissions listing is acceptable, tap Accept
- Allow the installation to complete
Upon completion of the installation, you should find a launcher for Encdroid on your home screen and/or your app drawer. Tap that launcher to open the application.
Using Encdroid is very intuitive. The first thing you must do is associate Encdroid with your Google account. To do this, follow these steps:
- From the main window (Figure A), tap the menu button (three vertical dots)
- Tap Accounts
- Tap Link to an account under Google Drive (Figure B)
- Select your Google account from the list and tap OK
That's it. Go back to the main Encdroid window, and you're ready to start using the tool.
Now, let's create an encrypted folder within the associated Google Drive account. Here's how to create an encrypted folder:
- From the main window, tap the menu button
- Tap Create Volume
- Select Google Drive from the list
- Tap the plus sign [+] in the upper right corner (Figure C)
- Give the folder a name and tap OK
- Enter a password for the folder and tap OK
At this point, you should see the newly created folder (Figure D). To navigate into the folder, tap it, enter the password, and tap OK.
Your encrypted folder ready to work.
You can now add files to your encrypted folder. This folder will also show up in your Google Drive account (from wherever your access). To add files, tap the menu button and then tap Import files. You can also create subfolders by tapping the menu button and then tapping Create folder. Give the folder a name and tap OK. Note: You do not have to add a password to the subfolders.
Once you've entered the encrypted folder, you'll notice the lock icon is open (Figure E). This means you can re-enter the folder without entering the encryption password. Do not leave those folders unencrypted. To secure the folder, long-press the folder icon and then tap Lock Volume.
An unlocked Encdroid folder.
When you add a file or folder to the encrypted volume, it can't be viewed outside of Encdroid without an encf decryptor. In Google Drive and Dropbox, the file will show up with a random string of characters for a name. How you decrypt the file will depend on the platform that you're using. For most platforms, you can decrypt with OpenSSL (you'll have to install it first on Windows). A sample command for decrypting an enc file using OpenSSL would be:
openssl enc -aes256 -d -in ENCRYPTED_FILE_NAME -out file.jpg
Where ENCRYPTED_FILE_NAME is the name of the encrypted file. You also have to enter the password used to encrypt the file or folder.
It's also possible to create encrypted volumes locally (on the Android device). These are done in the same manner as the Google Drive or Dropbox volumes, only you select Local. Once created on the local storage, you can add items into the volume and delete them from the standard folders. These files and folders are then only accessible through Encdroid. Make sure you lock your Encdroid volumes when you're finished using them — otherwise, they can be opened by anyone with access to your device.
Note: In the Settings, you'll see an option to Save passwords. Do not enable this. If you do, locked volumes can be re-entered without first entering the encryption password.
If you're looking for a solid way to secure your files and folders on your Android platform, give Encdroid a try and see if it doesn't fit the bill.
Do you use encryption on your mobile ecosystem? If so, what tools do you use? Share your experience in the discussion thread below.
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.