Google Drive is one of the most popular cloud storage services for personal and business data. It’s a great place to store your photos, videos, documents, and sensitive business files for convenience and backup.
It is not, however, the most secure and private way to manage your files. Despite Google's claims that it encrypts your files in transit and at rest, Google's guidelines state that it “processes” your stored data to enhance the user experience, which could mean anything from analyzing your files to using them to target you with advertising.
This implies that Google has access to your files and can view them at any time at its discretion. You cannot afford to take any risks when it comes to your sensitive data – you need to have complete control over it.
Encryption secures your sensitive files in Google Drive by transforming the contents of a file to an unreadable format. It does it by utilizing encryption algorithms and cryptographic keys to rearrange, shift, replace, and divide the contents within the file – kind of like a key and padlock combination, where you would use a unique padlock and keys to secure your house.
Just as the unique key that unlocks the specified padlock, only the unique cryptographic keys used to encrypt the files can decrypt them. This ensures that only the authorized users who have access to those keys can read and decipher the contents of the files.
To better understand the encryption process, let's consider a simple example. Suppose you have a text file with “I Love Encryption” written in it. After encrypting the file, the sentence would appear as “U2FsdGVkX1+Ww/kwN8Bn”.
The encrypted contents of the file transform into random strings of characters, which cannot be deciphered to make sense of it. This makes encryption a top-notch security method when it comes to data protection.
AxCrypt automatically encrypts files within folders on your local computer and then synchronizes them with your Google Drive account. This ensures that only you have the absolute access to encrypt and decrypt the files before they’re uploaded.
The entire process goes through the following flow:
When a File is Encrypted: Folder with Files > AxCrypt > Encryption > Uploading Encrypted File (Sync) > Secured File in Google Drive
When a File is Decrypted: AxCrypt > File in Google Drive > File Downloaded to Your Computer > Decryption > View/Edit the File
Steps to Automatically Encrypt Google Drive Files on Windows and Mac
STEP 1: Install and sign in to Google Drive desktop: https://google.com/intl/en_in/drive/download
STEP 2: Install AxCrypt and sign in or sign up: https://axcrypt.net/download
STEP 3: Click the ‘Google Drive’ icon on the top-right in the main menu, and select the folder that you want to encrypt the files within. This adds the folder to the ‘Secured Folders’ list. You can choose the entire main Drive or specific folders.
STEP 4: Create or add new files to the folder to encrypt and sync them. All existing files will be automatically encrypted and synced.
This set-up creates an automatic file security workflow, allowing you to seamlessly work on the files and re-encrypt them automatically.
Double-clicking or using the ‘Open Secured’ button will open an encrypted file with temporary decryption, allowing you to securely work on them. Modified and new files in specified folders will automatically be encrypted after signing out from the AxCrypt or clicking the ‘Cleanup’ button on the top right.
To permanently decrypt a file, click the ‘Stop Securing’ icon on top-left in the main menu strip and select the files that you’d like to decrypt.
Steps to Encrypt Google Drive Files on Android and iOS
Watch the step-by-step video tutorial:
STEP 2: Tap the ‘Secure’ button with a padlock icon and select Google Drive and sign in to your account.
STEP 3: Browse and select the files that you’d like to encrypt, tap and hold to select multiple files. Once done, your files will be encrypted and secured with their icons changing to AxCrypt’s logo and file extension to .axx.
STEP 4: To view or edit a file, tap on any of the files from the main screen to open, or tap the ‘Open Secured’ button and select the files.
Viewing or editing a file only initiates a temporary decryption process, and any changes made to the files will automatically be re-encrypted and synced.
To permanently decrypt a file, tap on the ‘Stop Securing’ icon and select the file with the .axx file extension that you’d like to decrypt. Files encrypted and synced from your desktops and laptops can be easily viewed on the mobile app.
Automatic encryption and syncing from your Windows and Mac to your Google Drive account, along with on-the-go access to those files from your Android or iOS, create a secured and protected environment for your files with greater access control and data breach protection.
1. ☁️ Extra Layer of Cloud Security: Encryption adds an additional strong security layer to your files before they reach the Google Drive storage, providing a secured space for files and reducing the risks associated with storing data online.
2. 🔒 Data Privacy: Encrypting your files in Google Drive adds an extra layer of privacy, making sure that only authorized users with the decryption key can access the sensitive information.
3. 🛡️ Data Breach Shield: In the event of a devastating data breach or a hacking attempt, encrypted files in Google Drive are unreadable to attackers without the decryption key, saving you from unprecedented time and financial losses.
4. 📝 Compliance with Data Regulations: Encrypting your files in Google Drive helps you meet and comply to data protection regulations like GDPR, HIPAA, FERPA, and CCPA, which require safeguarding personal and sensitive data.
5. 📤 Secure File Sharing: Encrypted files allow secure sharing, ensuring only authorized recipients can access and decrypt the content.
Encryption acts as a first line of defense against your sensitive files in your Google Drive storage. It’s the recommended method of data security by renowned institutions like NIST, IBM, Microsoft etc. to protect valuable data at rest.
Selecting a robust file encryption software ensures that your Google Drive files are equipped with the powerful measures to protect your sensitive data effectively. Whether it's personal files, financial documents, or sensitive business data, encryption ensures that even if unauthorized access occurs to your Google Drive storage, your data remains unreadable and protected.