Cryptomator is an excellent software package that allows users to secure their files and folders using 256-bit AES encryption. Without first decrypting the folder, an attacker cannot obtain sensitive information on the data contained within. Your files, file names and folder structures are entirely encrypted and invisible to onlookers, ensuring that your documents remain protected when falling into the hands of miscreants.
Encrypted folders can be created anywhere a traditional folder can, including flash drives, memory cards and cloud storage, and be easily decrypted from any machine with a Cryptomator installation. As an open-source project, the source code is public for all to test and verify, making this a very trustworthy piece of software and a great addition to your toolkit.
Privacy has become a primary concern for those regularly using cloud storage platforms like Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox. There have been multiple cases of leaks and hacks, as well as instances of cooperation between cloud storage platforms and law enforcement. I don’t advise storing sensitive documents on hosted cloud storage platforms, but by using folder encryption, you are at least keeping your data secure should anybody gain access.
Creating a strong and unique password to encrypt your folders will make them near impenetrable. Brute forcing AES-256 with today’s technology is unfeasible. The weakest point of failure will be how and where you store your password and whether or not your device is infected with malicious software.
Cryptomator is available to download on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS. More details can be found on the Cryptomater Github repository.
When opening Cryptomator, you are presented with the main application page.
To create a new encrypted folder (vault), start by clicking “Add Vault” from the lower left-hand side of the window.
You can now choose whether to create a new vault or to open a vault previously created from a different device. Select “Create New Vault” to begin.
Now give your vault a memorable name. The green tick below the box confirms that your vault name is valid.
You now need to choose a storage location for your vault. You can store the vault anywhere, including USB drives and cloud storage. Depending on your device and whether your cloud storage is integrated, you may be able to save there directly. Still, if not, you can manually upload the file to your cloud provider upon completion.
Next, enter a password for your vault. This will be required whenever you want to unlock the vault so ensure that it is strong and securely backed up. Also, choose whether or not you would like to generate a recovery key for your vault.
Choosing to create a recovery key will supply you with a long list of words list that can be backed up separately for an emergency scenario where you lose access to your primary password. Whether or not you choose to use this will depend on the value of the files stored within the vault; however, some may argue that having extra decryption credentials may decrease security.
And that’s it; your vault has been successfully created and is safely encrypted. You can find it safely stored at the location you previously selected, and you can choose to unlock it immediately or click “Done” to come back to it later.
You will see nothing other than a single file named “WELCOME.rtf” when you open your empty, locked folder. This file has no use and can be safely removed if desired.
To unlock your vault, select it from the list on the left. Once selected, you can press the large “Unlock” button to continue.
You will be prompted to enter your vault password to decrypt the folder. Enter it in the box and select “Unlock“.
Your vault has now been successfully unlocked. If you want Cryptomator to open the folder for you immediately, using your file manager, press “Reveal Drive“. Otherwise, click “Done” if you prefer to locate your unlocked folder manually.
Adding Files & Encrypting.
When you open the folder for the first time, it will be empty. Open up a new window with your file management software and begin copying or moving all the files you wish to encrypt to your newly created Cryptomator folder.
Once you have finished, close the folder window, head to Cryptomator and then press the “Lock” button to encrypt your folder safely.
When you open the folder without first unlocking it, you will notice that the contents have been replaced with new files, which Cryptomator uses to decrypt the folder’s actual contents. Do not worry; your files are safely encrypted and hidden away from snooping eyes.
You can choose to remove a vault from Cryptomator at any time you wish. However, this will not delete the actual folder, which can be found in the exact location as before, so that it can easily be added again and decrypted at a later point.
If you want to delete the folder from your system entirely, this is accomplished in the same way you would delete any folder; however, if you do not have the folder backed up elsewhere, it will be permanently deleted and unrecoverable.
Adding Existing Vaults.
When accessing an encrypted folder from a different device, or restoring a previously removed vault, press the “Add Vault” button from the lower left-hand side of the window. This time, select “Open Existing Vault” from the step that follows.
Press the “Choose” button to open your file manager and locate the encrypted folder you want to add. Inside the folder, search for a file named “vault.cryptomator“, which you must select to add the vault to Cryptomator successfully.
And that’s it; your vault is added and is ready to be decrypted with the usual method explained previously.
Cryptomator ships with great default settings; however, you may wish to fine-tune them based on your environment.
Cryptomator is a great tool, and best of all, it is 100% free; however, the time and labour required to keep the project updated come at a personal cost for the developers. You can support the project by purchasing the “Dark Mode” option whilst also supporting the developers financially.