From time to time, I find I need a quick way to send a file with sensitive information in it, but don’t want to bother with PGP or some other file encryption method – usually because the recipient isn’t comfortable with PGP.
Enter miniLock. miniLock is a Chrome app and relies on the combination of your email address and a strong passphrase as your key. This is both a positive and a negative.
That’s great because it means you can encrypt and decrypt files on your Chromebook. It’s bad because most people don’t have good passwords – much less passphrases.
Still, it’s a simple way to encrypt files, and can be used by almost anyone without the need for any sort of indoctrination.
At the risk of making the process more complicated than it really is, I took some screenshots and walked through the installation and encryption process below.
Step 1: Install
Installation is super simple. Visit miniLock.io and click the link to the Chrome App Store
Click “Add to Chrome”
Step 2: Launch
Go to your installed Apps in Chrome and click on the light blue padlock
Step 3: Create key
This is done by entering your email address and a strong passphrase.
Step 4: Select file
Your miniLock ID is shown at the bottom of this window. This key can be posted or sent anywhere – and should be if you want others to be able to send you encrypted files with miniLock.
My miniLock ID is UXTFUyqcoM3spXNMtqpZGqqNzjZyZsGiQQwezVH1UYNR5.
Now you can either drag the file you want to encrypt, or click the big square box to find your file.
Step 5: Encrypt
Paste in the miniLock IDs you want to encrypt the file for. I strongly recommend keeping these in a text file or email someplace. Again, they are not sensitive, so it really doesn’t matter where you keep them. A file in Dropbox would work just fine.
You can add more miniLock IDs if you need to.
Step 7: Save encrypted file
Once complete, you can download the encyprted file by clicking on the down arrow. This “.minilock” file can be attached to an email or sent via Dropbox or put on a USB stick or stored and distributed anywhere, really.
Decrypting a “.minilock” file is just as easy. Simply drag and drop the file onto the window from Step 4. The file will decrypt (assuming it was encrypted to your miniLock ID) and you can download and save the original file.
That’s really all there is to it.
While I prefer PGP for encryption, it’s good to have alternatives to work with, so I consider this just another good option.