Mobile Computing is becoming more and more common these days, with Apple leading from the forefront. With the MacBook Air and Retina Display MacBook Pros being the headline Macs these days, it’s extremely comfortable to own a portable computing device rather than a desktop. Security becomes a paramount concern with such devices as they are prone to loss or theft when carrying around.
Even when using an iMac, data security is vital to keep sensitive information private. Using Filevault for encryption is one way to go, but it encrypts the entire drive. If you plan to secure only certain folders, you’ll have to look at third party alternatives. And there are quite a few free and premium apps that help solve this problem.
I’m a vocal advocate of TrueCrypt, yet, I found Espionage’s offering very interesting. Is it as good at securing my Mac and simple to use as they promise? Time to check it out!
Since our last review in 2009, Espionage has gone through many changes including a complete rewrite. I started using TrueCrypt to secure my portable drives and I’m a big fan of the app. It’s open source and is cross platform. I juggle between a Mac and PC, so a cross platform encryption app made a lot of sense.
There are a few downsides to using an app like TrueCrypt though. It’s definitely not the prettiest app around and the workflow can be a bit cumbersome. Beginners and casual users might find the steps involved to be confusing at times. That’s when apps like Espionage comes in to make our lives easy.
Espionage combines the ease of use and elegance Mac apps are known for. If a Mac is your primary computer and if you are looking for an app to simplify the process of securing files and folders, Espionage is what you need. It hardly needs any ground work or heavy lifting from your end. A quick drag and drop is all that you need to do to secure your content.
As you might know, the journey to encryption universe begins with the creation of a master password. Make sure it’s strong with a combination alphanumerics and special characters for obvious reasons. If you are in doubt, the app has a password strength indicator and warns you when the password you have chosen isn’t secure enough.
Not having to deal with the creation of secure containers and stuff is a big relief for me. Nothing beats a simple drag and drop. The app sits on the menu bar and the encryption process starts as soon as you drop a folder. As you might be aware, the duration of an encryption depends on the volume of data and the processing power of the system. During my trials, I found it to be pretty decent.
Announcing the various stages of the encryption process as and when they happen is a nice touch. At the end of the encryption, the folder and the files located in the drive are moved to the trash. You’re alerted to this fact with a detailed growl style notification.
Predictably, the files and folders secured by Espionage won’t be visible in the finder. You can quickly access encrypted files by way of a quick toggle action. To manage the settings of individual files and folders, click on the info icon right next to them. Again, a fabulous GUI works wonders when it comes to tackling otherwise complex actions.
In a single click, spotlight accessibility to files and folders can be managed. Enabling spotlight access will result in secured files showing up in search results. So, you might want to think twice before opting for it.
Are you a forgetful person? Then use the timer feature to auto lock folders after a preset duration. The fine grained nature of the auto lock settings is an example of the extent to which Espionage has simplified securing data.
For the paranoid amongst us, the ability to set and use multiple master passwords should help rest easy if and when the unlikely event of forced disclosure at gunpoint occurs!
I simply love Espionage. It’s simple, affordable and does a fabulous job of taking the pain out of securing private data. The elegantly designed user interface plays a great deal in making Espionage such a pleasure to use.
The use of the fairly standard info icon for accessing the advanced features section is an interesting design decision though. For me atleast, it appeared to be another useless shortcut for help section or a tip. Replacing it with a new icon that actually evokes curiosity would be great.
I am in the process of moving data from a couple of my computers around and as soon as that’s done, I’m gonna entrust the task of protecting my files to Espionage!