Encrypting can be a difficult task, luckily there's a new app making the skill more accessible for all. Take for example Edward Snowden, the famed NSA leaker, who communicated with journalist Glenn Greenwald through encrypted email. However, even after Snowden made a twelve-minute tutorial video to understand the crypto program PGP, Greenwald could not comprehend the messages. Now, the knowledge is being democratized through an app.
The idea to make encoding accessible came to Nadim Kobeissi at the H.O.P.E. (Hackers On Planet Earth) Hacker conference in New York City. The beta version of the app, called miniLock, will be a free and open-source browser plugin allowing everyone to encrypt and decrypts files with practically seemingly undecipherable cryptographic protection in mere seconds. Although the app is in the experimental phase--not ready to be used for high security files--it is the easiest encryption software of its kind thus far. Simply drag and drop a file into the application program and it will scramble the data so that no one but the recipient it is intended for will be able to decode it. That, in theory, includes law enforcement and intelligence agencies!
There are a few similarities and differences from the conventional Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption program:
MiniLock can be used to encrypt messages in various forms; messages and photos stored on a USB drive, video emails, or files on Dropbox or Google Drive. Similarly there is a "public key" encryption feature which allows two cryptographic keys--a public and private key. This means that one can share the public key with anyone who wants to send the individual files. Those files securely shared and encrypted with a public key can only be decrypted with the private key, which the users guard.
Some innovations to the new encryption app are that in the public key version is less complex, lacking the need to register or log in. Thus every time you launch miniLock, the user merely has to enter a passphrase--albeit, a fairly complex passphrase, requiring up to 30 characters with symbols and numbers. After entering a passphrase the program derives the public key (otherwise known as miniLock ID) as well as a private key--which is never revealed to the user and is automatically destroyed when the program is closed.
What Does the Future Hold?
Although Kobeissi’s previous programs have been criticised for security issues, the future and potential of miniLock may be more promising. The research and process stem from the mistakes he has made in the past and the possibility of an effective encryption program are probable, the possibilities to transform file sharing as well.