Privacy, Secure Messaging, and File Sharing

By Patrick Baker ~

Safeguarding your privacy in the world of technology requires knowledge and effort. Persons who utilize text messages, email, and social media need to be cautious about sharing personally-identifying information (PII) like your birth date, Social Security number, and other highly confidential information.

How can you securely send passwords, PII, other highly confidential information, or documents containing personal information to someone? Using encrypted messaging and secure file sharing apps and services reduces your exposure to possible fraud and identity theft.

Send Secure Messages Instead of Texts
Several free and paid apps allow you to send confidential information securely. Encrypted messages can’t be intercepted and read as easily as SMS (text) or email messages.

Sharing user accounts and login credentials is not something I recommend to my clients. However, if you must share an account login or other confidential information, use encrypted messaging to ensure you’re sending it securely.

iMessage, the standard messaging app on iPhones and iPads, uses end-to-end encryption and is a secure way to send confidential information. However, if you are sending a group text that includes people who aren’t using iMessage, those recipients receive standard text messages that are not encrypted.

If you are using an Android phone or the recipients of a group text have a mixture of iPhones and Android phones, consider using one of these encrypted messaging apps:

  • Signal
  • WhatsApp
  • Telegram

Use Secure Document Sharing Instead of Email

Sending documents over email is a common practice. However, email and text messages are among the least secure options for sending confidential files. There are some encrypted email services available, but most common email platforms are not encrypted.

Suppose you are sending confidential, sensitive, or proprietary documentation over email or text. You could be exposing yourself to identity theft by anyone with the means and determination to capture your data.

Fortunately, there are several free or low-cost options for securely sharing your files with others. 

  • Dropbox
  • Box
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Google Drive
  • Apple iCloud Drive

All of the services noted have free and paid versions of their products. Among the free versions, Google Drive and Box offer the most storage space – 15GB and 10GB, respectively. If you’re using Google’s free software equivalents (Docs, Sheets, and Slides) of the popular Microsoft Office programs Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the documents you create don’t count against your 15GB of free cloud storage.

Fraud and identity theft against older adults has risen significantly during the past year. Using secure messaging and file-sharing apps and software to share PII and confidential information reduces your potential exposure to fraud and identity theft.

Patrick Baker is an IT consultant and the founder of Prime of Life Tech. To learn more about his services, visit primeoflifetech.com, email info@primeoflifetech.com, or call (720) 319-7145.

Do you have technology questions? Send an email to questions@primeoflifetech.com. Patrick will follow up with you and may use your question in a future edition of this column.

Comments

  1. Nice article. However, using these free service create compliance problems in certain industries. Since these service require you upload/send your confidential documents to a third-party company, it is difficult to guarantee no one in between will be able to look at the data.

    A better solution is to invest in an inhouse solution that not only does end-to-end encryption but can also large files. Sure, this won’t be free but is secure and often the only option for enterprises.

  2. Thanks. The article was intended for consumers and older adults, both of whom want a low or no-cost solution for transferring files and messages securely. Enterprise users should seek enterprise-grade solutions.

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