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How to Encrypt Your Cloud Files

How to Encrypt Your Cloud Files

Just a few years ago, keeping files secure was a simple task—you could move them to a thumb drive, delete any duplicate copies, and store the thumb drive in a safe location. As technology has advanced, however, data security has had to adapt to usability, and that means adjusting for Cloud sharing and storage.

Moving your secure documents and files into Cloud storage can feel risky, but you can combat the risk with proper encryption. If you’re new to the realm of data encryption and Cloud storage, keep reading to learn what encryption is and how you can use different encryption methods to keep your Cloud-based files safe and secure.

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What Is Encryption?

Every file or piece of data on a computer exists as a series of characters that gets interpreted by various programs on your computer. In its most basic form, encryption uses a predetermined pattern to change those characters, scrambling them so they can’t be used. Only the user who holds the encryption key—usually accessed with a password—can unscramble the data again.

Once used almost exclusively by security techs, encryption is now a tool that can and should be used by the masses. In the words of Taylor Miller, security expert at ATTSavings, “Encryption is no longer the purview of government officials and hackers; it has never been easier to make your files safe.”

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There are many procedures used for encryption, but Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is among the most secure out there. Files can be encrypted to AES in three ways: native password-based encryption, app-based encryption, or Cloud-based encryption. Here’s a closer look at each method.

1. Native, Password-Based Encryption

If you have ever used password protection on a document with Microsoft Office, you’ve used a form of native encryption. This encryption method is fairly basic, but it can be effective if you’ve chosen a complex, hard-to-crack password. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all have password-based encryption options, as does Adobe Acrobat.

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Pros:

  • Native encryption is easy to use—you don’t have to go through another program to handle the encryption.
  • Native encryption requires no external software, and other users can access your files simply by knowing the password.

Cons:

  • Depending on the program you’re working with, there may not be a native encryption option.
  • Natively encrypted files may run into compatibility problems between different versions of the same software.
  • On certain programs, AES isn’t set as the default encryption standard. In these instances, you may need to change the encryption setting to AES, which ensures maximum security.

2. Application-Based Encryption

If you want to go a step beyond native, password-based encryption, consider using an encryption software application. These apps have become very user friendly in recent years. Some programs allow you to encrypt entire folders or directories, providing automatic encryption for any additional files uploaded to those locations.

Pros:

  • Application-based encryption programs allow you to encrypt most files, regardless of the programs they come from.
  • Depending on the software you choose, you may be able to encrypt many files at once.
  • These programs often allow you to select your level of encryption.

Cons:

  • If you intend to share encrypted files, the users you share with may need to have the same encryption software.
  • While many encryption packages are free for private use, using a program commercially often requires the purchase of a commercial license, which can be very expensive.
  • You will likely need to move files out of your Cloud storage account before editing them to ensure proper encryption.

3. Cloud-Based Encryption

Some Cloud storage services have built-in encryption to protect your data. This method is good to use in tandem with another method listed here, as it effectively doubles up on the protection you’ve already got. Do note that not all Cloud storage providers offer encryption, so you’ll want to clarify what security protocol—if any—your host uses.

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Pros:

  • Like application-based encryption, Cloud-based encryption allows for encryption of any file, no matter which program the file or data originated in.
  • Depending on the Cloud service you choose, encryption may be automatic.
  • You won’t need any additional programs to decrypt the data you access.
  • Collaborators can easily access Cloud-encrypted files without compatibility issues—all they need is the password to access the hosting account.

Cons:

  • Like offline encryption software, using encrypted Cloud hosting commercially will likely require extra money for licensing.
  • Some services store encryption keys internally, which can be problematic if the host experiences a breach.

Cloud hosting makes collaboration—especially long-distance collaboration—much easier than it used to be. But that increased ease of use, needs specialized security to back it up. Fortunately, encryption is a great way to ameliorate some of those Cloud-based risks, so use one or more of the above methods to help ensure your data stays protected.

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Published on September 20, 2018

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

Minimizing Tabs

Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

Incognito Mode

Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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  1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
  2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
  3. Download extension New Incognito Window

This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

Save Webpages as PDF Files

Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

Open Recently-closed Tabs

Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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Solve Mathematical Problems

Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

Play Media Files

Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

Stay Focus(e)d

Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

Grammarly for Editing

Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

Loom

There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

Chrome Calendar Extension

No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

Final Thoughts

Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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