Best Windows Phone Apps: Boxcryptor

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Heartbleed, the most catastrophic bug in recent memory and the catalyst for plenty of controversy, is serving as a strong reminder that even seemingly secure systems are always vulnerable to attack. Users of cloud storage services are no exception, even if those services give the impression that they’re impenetrable. They aren’t, and you shouldn’t assume they are.

Windows Phone, Microsoft, Boxcryptor, Heartbleed, SSL, AES-256While Dropbox boasts “modern encryption methods” using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and AES-256 bit encryption, Microsoft OneDrive only offers in-transit SSL, and Google Drive has nothing of the sort altogether. Adding a buffer of protection when using your Windows Phone to upload and access cloud-stored data is a no-brainer.

Enter Boxcryptor, the brainchild of a company named Secomba GmbH, to presumably save the day and keep all the tasty bits of your private information safe from the clutches of would-be hackers and NSA employees. It definitely wins the award for Best Timing of a Windows App Release — it’s been around on Android, iOS and desktops for a while, but just arrived on the Windows Phone Store this month — but is it really all that? Yes and no.

Both on the surface and in demonstration, Boxcryptor’s got all the makings of a killer security app. It works by encoding data with AES-256 and RSA encryption before it even leaves your phone for the cloud, adding an additional layer of security that could mean the difference between a secure transfer and a compromised one.  It’s a so-called “zero-knowledge” app in that doesn?t store your username or password, which is both good and bad. It’ll keep your stuff secure, but it also means that if you forget your password, there’s no way of retrieving it.

Boxcryptor is functional on a healthy cross-section of cloud storage providers, including Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Box.net and SugarSync. It’s relatively easy to use too: simply pick the cloud provider of choice from that practically endless list of options, key in your credentials and go. Once encrypted uploading is complete, you can even share access rights with other people. Encrypted files are displayed with green filenames.

Windows Phone, Microsoft, Boxcryptor, Heartbleed, SSL, AES-256Unfortunately, Boxcryptor suffers from a bit of disingenuous advertising. Marketed as a “free” app, the only thing you really get for free is a test drive to see how you like it. Buried deep in the description of the app are a couple of mentions of “Boxcryptor Unlimited” and “Boxcryptor Company Package,” but it’s not until you actually try to add more than one cloud storage provider that you’re hit with the buzzkill of having to pay for expanded features.

It wouldn’t be so bad so bad if you could fork over a single payment of $1.99, or even $9.99, to gain access to the full version. Your privacy is probably worth more than that to you. But Boxcryptor asks for recurring yearly subscription of $48 per year for personal use, or $96 per year for business use.

Is that worth it? That depends on your budget. For the average Windows Phone user, it might be a tough sell. Boxcryptor’s expanded pay features also include the ability to encrypt filenames, use the app across an unlimited number of mobile devices, and create groups of authorized users — all things that only someone who’s doing a lot of sensitive data uploading from their mobile device would really be able to benefit from.

If that sounds like you, though, we recommend giving Boxcryptor a look. It’s available in the Windows Phone Store now as a free download.

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