About two years ago, I bemoaned the fact that Evernote–free or Premium–lacked built-in support for GPG public/private key encryption. Although many have shared that Evernote offers many encryption/privacy options for the notes, the truth is, some may not be satisfied with that because Evernote controls the encryption key(s).

Online at http://www.paranoiaworks.mobi/

In a previous blog entry a year ago, I shared how you can encrypt Evernote notes using a free Chrome add-on, Mailvelope

This blog entry explores using two tools I have grown fond of–Paranoia Text Encryption (PTE) and Secret Space Encryptor (SSE)–to encrypt Evernote notes  and attachments, respectively. 

I use these tools quite a bit and have shown everyone I work with how to use them as well. That’s important given how often confidential data falls into hackers’ hands due to un-encrypted communications and/or files on USB flash drives, or in the cloud (e.g. Dropbox).

An overview of the tools:

  • Text Encryption and File Encryption solutions for most platforms.
  • Securely encrypt your private and confidential files or whole folders. Wiping (secure delete) feature is included for computer and Android versions.

In this short walkthrough, you’ll see how to accomplish the following:

  1. Get PTE and SSE for Your Computer or mobile device
  2. Encrypt and Decrypt Evernote Notes with PTE
  3. Encrypt and Decrypt File Attachments with SSE you can place in Evernote.

Step 1 – Get PTE and SSE for Your Device

Note that Secret Space Encryptor isn’t available for iOS devices, so you’ll need to take that into consideration.

Step 2 – Encrypt and Decrypt Notes with PTE
Encrypting text is pretty easy. You can type it up in a word processor, text editor, then copy-n-paste it into the PTE window (the top one, as shown below, with unencrypted text). 

Tip: You wouldn’t want to type up your secret to-be-encrypted text in Evernote or any cloud service since it’s automatically saved on Evernote’s or cloud servers.

To accomplish the encryption, click on ENCRYPT and you’ll get the encrypted text. Note that although there are various choices for encryption algorithm, I’m going to use AES (256 bit) for the purposes of this example. You can get higher level encryption on the Android and Windows version if you pay for the Pro (really, a donation) version. However, to take advantage of the cross-platform version, you’ll have to stick with what’s available “for free.”

Copy-n-paste the encrypted text into an Evernote note…

To decrypt, open up your Evernote Note where you saved your work (for example, here’s what the web version of Evernote looks like) and paste it in:

To decrypt, paste your encrypted text in the bottom half of the PTE window then, after entering your top secret password, click DECRYPT button:

Note that throughout this, I’ve chosen to “show” my password. You can actually choose to “hide” the password and it’s gone when you quit PTE.

If you are on an iOS device, here’s what it looks like decrypting:

a) Open up PTE on your iOS device. You’ll be prompted for a password, so enter the one you used to encrypt text earlier:

Click SET and PTE is ready to go (it will go to the more familiar split screen for encrypting/decrypting text)

b) Copy-n-paste text from your Evernote app windows, as shown below:

c) Paste encrypted text into the bottom window, then tap on the Decrypt button. That will show you the decrypted text in the top window.

This process looks a bit different on Android…here’s an older screenshot via Man Versus Technology Blog:

Message Encryptor Screen

The Android version also includes a Password Vault, as well as the SSE feature. I have encrypted files on my computer, transferred them to my phone for portability, decrypted them on my phone, and vice versa. The ability to do that provides another layer of security for mobile devices.

Speaking of SSE….

Step 3 – Encrypt and Decrypt Files with SSE
To encrypt files–that you add or attach to Evernote, you can use the Secret Space Encryptor (SSE). You can choose to encrypt files individually or drop them all into a folder and encrypt them all at once as ONE file.

All encrypted files have the filename extension of enc so you will know.

The process is similar once you launch Secret Space Encryptor (SSE) and see this:

Essentially, you type in your password then drag the file you want to encrypt into the SSE window (as indicated by instructions, Drag and Drop File(s) or Folder(s) into the Red Bordered Area). 

Once the file is encrypted, it will appear in the same place as the original un-encrypted file:

Remember, you can drop an entire folder onto SSE and it will encrypt the whole folder…it works exactly the same way. To decrypt, simply drop the “enc” file into the SSE red bordered area and it will decrypt the encrypted file.

You can do the same thing in Android, making this an ideal, cross-platform tool for file/folder encryption. iOS is the only unsupported platform.

Once the file is encrypted, you can add it to an Evernote note the way you would any other document.

A few quick warnings:

  1. Encrypt data in an Evernote note with this approach, you won’t be able to search it. To offset this drawback, take advantage of Notebook placement and tags to better describe what you have without giving it away.
  2. Both iOS and Android are supported by Paranoia Text Encryption (PTE), but only Android has Secret Space Encryptor (SSE) for file encryption. If you’re just encrypting notes, then PTE should be sufficient on iOS and Android.
  3. Pay attention to what algorithm (e.g. AES256, Blowfish, etc) you use to encrypt your notes with PTE. You’ll need to be consistent across platforms.
  4. File attachments will need to be encrypted with SSE.
  5. None of this happens automatically. Simply, don’t put anything into Evernote unencrypted (it’s so easy to make that mistake these days).
  6. Think of something else? Leave a note in the comments.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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