SecretBox: Your Private Data Vault

These days we have so much information that needs safe keeping. With so many reports regarding identity theft breaking on a daily basis, security of digital items is as important as your physical goods. Alleyways across the Internet are at times darker than the real world, and all it takes is a tiny malware in your computer to transfer all your digital data to a basement dwelling hacker.

SecretBox allows you to store all sorts of information – Credit Card details, SSN numbers, Software Licenses, account login credentials, and much more. Let’s check it out.

Setting Up

While there are so many things on the launch screen, Open File or Create a new file are the only two that will get you going instantly. Open a file is for importing a Secretbox database, but I went the other way and decided to create one from scratch. After assigning a name and location for the file, you will have to set up a password to protect the file from prying eyes.

Setting Up

Setting Up

As a welcome addition, there is an option to add the password to the Apple Keychain. This is convenient and will allow the app to autologin so you don’t have to enter the password every single time. However, if you are sharing your Mac with others, keep in mind that enabling this feature may likely defeat the purpose of having Secretbox in the first place.

User Interface

After a snazzy visual effect, Secretbox will unveil your new secret database. The database will come with a bunch of example accounts preloaded to help give you an idea how useful the app can be. If you are not a fan of pre-populated databases, that is fine too, simply choose Create an empty file option when creating a file.

Categories and Listings

Categories and Listings

In my experience, I have always found apps that come with sample data to be extremely useful. So I was naturally delighted that I did not have to spend a lot of time figuring things out on my own through trial and error.

The three column layout of the app is not very visually appealing. Still, considering the flow of the app, this is justifiable. Next up, icons. Similar to the layout, the icons tend to be aesthetically displeasing. Fortunately, for those individuals who really need an icon changed, there are a few alternatives available to choose from.

Customizing a Category

Customizing a Category

To change an icon, simply double click on the category and select the preferred icon from the Settings window that pops up. While you are on this screes, you can also change the name of the category and the fields associated with that template, or use the drop down to select a new template altogether.

Adding a Secret

Adding a Credit Card

Adding a Credit Card

Adding a secret is as effortless as clicking the + icon in the center column. If you have opted for a template category, say Credit Cards, the form comes pre-populated with standard fields like name, card number, CVV, expiry date, etc. A detailed note can also be attached to each entry to ensure that all relevant information is recorded. Alternatively, there is an option to attach files to the entry. This means that you can safeguard things like credit card information along with copies of your credit card statements.

Adding a new custom field to each entry doesn’t take much time either. Hit the + symbol below the last entry and add as many as you need.

Hovering Quick Acccess Screen

Hovering Quick Acccess Screen

For those who frequently use the Secretbox app to search for and find the Credit Card details, login credentials, etc., the Quick Access feature will be immensely helpful. As soon as you select the Quick Access icon in the top right corner of the app, a hovering search window appears. From there, you can search for the data you are looking for. In Google Instant style, results start showing up with each character you type. In addition to this Quick Access option, there is a conventional search field in the app as well.

Securing the App

Do you tend to wander away from your Mac without locking it? Or, do you allow others access your beloved Mac and often worry they might get their hands on your private data? Secretbox allows you to extensively lockdown the app and the database from other users. From the Preferences screen you can set a timer to lock the database and to hide the displayed password after a preset time of inactivity.

Securing the Database

Securing the Database

Clearing the clipboard is a great practice and you can either set the app to clear it when the file is locked or when the app is closed. You do not want to be second guessing yourself when it comes to backing up the sensitive data you have stored. So, set your backup schedule (anywhere from hourly to monthly), sit back, and relax while Secretbox does all the grunt work of backing up everything you have stored. The backup process begins as soon as the app is closed.

Security

It is natural to wonder about the security of an app like this. So, for those of you who find yourself pondering about the security level of Secretbox, the app uses 256 bit AES algorithms to encrypt the files. In case anyone doesn’t quite undertand what that means, it is the standard used by the military to secure data. So, rest assured that the data you store with Secretbox is absolutely safe. In fact, as an additional security measure, Secretbox decyrpts only the files that you open instead of decyrpting all the files at once the way many other apps do.

Final Thoughts

Secretbox is a rock solid app for protecting sensitive information. For those who want to access the data stored in Secretbox while on the go, there are companion apps for the iPhone and the iPad that sync with the desktop app. While a visual revamp would take the app a long way, it seems to have a perfect set of features and is a steal at $9.99. Go grab it from the Mac App Store!


Summary

SecretBox can be used to store all sorts of information - Credit Card details, SSN numbers, Software Licenses, e-mail and other account login credentials and many more.

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  • adnX

    We changed our company name in June 2011. We are now adnx.com

  • http://www.lri.me/ Lri

    Storing a master password in a keychain doesn’t defeat the purpose of having a password — no-one should get access to the keychain in the first place. And the data is still encrypted.

    One essential feature SecretBox missing is browser extensions, or support for saving and auto-filling form data in browsers, like 1Password and Wallet. Neither of those has an equivalent to the Quick Access dialog though, but their main windows can be used to find entries just as easily.

    The most popular free app like this (Pastor) is almost unusable. It relies on RC4 (easily crackable), doesn’t have clients for other platforms, doesn’t support storing files, and doesn’t support auto-lock or clearing the clipboard.

    Keychain Access doesn’t support storing files, and it’s fairly inconvenient to search and access entries manually.

  • James

    Umm, yeah it’s a “steal” alright! $9.99 for something you already have built into OS X!

    Keychain can store notes and honestly, who needs custom fields or columns when all you need is a text area and the ability to secure it? You could keep the password in your login keychain or you can create a new keychain and set options for it to timeout, requiring the keychain unlock password after a specified time period, etc.

    You can even password protect any PDF file and anything you can print can be turned into a PDF file.

    As far as securing editable files, you can create sparse DMG files with AES-256 encryption right inside Disk Utility. You can store the password for that encrypted disk image inside keychain. You mount the disk image just like a real disk and unmount it when you are done. Time Machine can back it up as well as any other online backup service. The file is heavily encrypted so that means you could put a DMG file onto DropBox or any other file sharing service without fear.

    Alternatively, you can download and install TrueCrypt which has it’s own encrypted volume file that is very much like a DMG file. However, TrueCrypt is cross platform (Linux, Mac, Windows). It’s security features are top of the line. It’s also completely open source and free.

    Apps like this remind me of those memory clearing apps, ya know, the ones that merely run the “purge” command behind the scenes and claim to free up your RAM? The purge command is built-in to OS X (maybe the dev tools) and all it really does is destroy the disk cache in RAM. This could actually slow you down rather than speed anything up. But it looks like you just free’d a whole bunch of RAM (which you did) but you sacrificed the dynamic disk cache which was trying to speed up your frequent disk reads!

    I don’t mind paying for Apps, I just want to spend my money on things of substance that are more than a pretty substitute to existing built-in solutions. The App stores are flooded with lame Apps and that makes it harder to find the real gems. The end user rating system is horrid and unreliable. I have to rely on blog reviews to decide which Apps to purchase. The developers don’t even bother putting up a support page or discussion forum, etc. Many apps, even really good ones have a terrible online presence that would be very beneficial to them for marketing to and supporting their customers. i.e. post App documentation, more screenshots, embedded YouTube videos of the app in action, etc. The App store doesn’t provide enough detail in many cases. You hit that link for the developer or support and you get some lame web page with hardly any information short of an email address.

    • Mike

      This is a great post – regardless of whether “beginners” don’t understand what you’re talking about, I agree with every word you said.

      I don’t use the App Store, and I’m storing all of my information in sparse disks using AES – I also use an applescript app to mount a few sparse disks so that I can just click one button and mount them all (hdiutil will do almost everything for you).

      It sucks that people are making so much money off of the people who don’t understand computers and assume that a “RAM Clearing” app will fix all, and they don’t understand what RAM is, or that wiping a cache won’t help you (unless you understood that, and wanted to wipe your cache). All sorts of apps like this are popping up now, and people are buying them like hotcakes.

      I’d love to have a chat sometime, lol.

  • adnX

    You should not forget beginners. You talk like a geek and a Mac expert. Most people will not understand half of your comments. SecretBox is simple to use and safe. Some people need customization. People want choice.

  • TRY

    @adnX: I would like if SecretBox would have passwords attempt logs and some kinda of monitoring feature to keep eye on any process or intruder trying to view or break password through brute force.

    Regards

  • http://www.jonesxray.com Chris Jones

    That would be $29.99 on the Mac App Store

  • http://www.keepassx.org/ iDiabloX

    Better use KeePassX, its free, its open source, you can store your password’s vault in a USB and DropBox, it supports key files in addition to master passwords (Two Factor Authentication to protect your password’s vault) and you can use the new MiniKeePass for iPhone (also free) to take your passwords on the go.

    I just don’t understand people who pays big bucks for products such as 1Password or SecretBox- which actually cost as much as the new Lion Operating system. Don’t waste your money like that!

    KeepassX is just better and more secure and it is Free!

  • Anonymous

    I think that this application is doing what many other applications already do. If you Google Mac applications that will secure your information or act as a ‘vault’ there are about 20 different ways and programs that will do this for you.

    I am also wary of introducing third party softwares to keep my private information safe – NOT because they harvest data in any way, but because of the concept that if there is a bug, glitch, or other way for somebody to take the files and get access to them then I’m totally shafted – I have no idea how they have secured the data I am putting into the software. What if they missed something and someone can take the program, re-write, and get rid of the password function? I prefer to encrypt my own files using native OS functions rather than getting as much software as I can. Also, how much stuff are you storing that can’t live in a text file or spreadsheet? Likely not much.

  • Jim MasterGeek

    I feel bad for geeks that get stuck in ADD mode and bash entrepreneurs for their great efforts and great products that allow the “end-user” to use their freedoms to “choose” and “explore” and (I’m starting to cry… lol) “spend” their money on apps that make life a little more interesting… oh, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a handicap like “geek-hood”… we still love you, because we are geeks, too – or we wouldn’t be making cool apps for you to get pissed about – only difference is we actually took something we know how to “do-well” and made money at it… sorry if it makes you upset – maybe you’re really upset at your 1st grade teacher for not letting you go to the bathroom soon enough? (just guessing… “Anger Management- with Adam Sandler” really does have a message in it…) lol

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