Tutorial Thursday

Securely sending files to friends and family is becoming a chore these days. Some people ZIP up a file and add a password, or post it to a password-protected website, but today I’m going to show you a more unique way to encrypt files.

Some people have taken a liking to hiding files in an image. It’s a pretty cool trick, but anyone with some knowledge of computers will notice when an image has a filesize that’s abnormally large. If your just stuffing a small file in the image it might not be so bad, but how about encrypting a file or folder using an image? Yep, that’s completely possible using a free application called PixelCryptor.

With PixelCryptor you give it a file or folder, and an image to use for the encryption process. The result will be a single file that is encrypted using the image you provided, and the only way to decrypt the file is for someone to have the same image that you used (PixelCryptor is also needed for decryption).

–How it works–

  1. Start PixelCryptor after you have installed it:
    PixelCryptor: Encrypt Files with an Image
  2. Select the file(s) and or folder(s) that you want to encrypt:
    PixelCryptor: Encrypt Files with an Image
  3. Select the image you want to use for encryption. This is almost like providing a password, except it will be much harder for a hacker to break.
    PixelCryptor: Encrypt Files with an Image
  4. Pick the destination for the encrypted file, and the encryption process will begin. It took about 30-seconds to encrypt a 14MB file with a 20KB image.
    PixelCryptor: Encrypt Files with an Image
  5. It’s now ready to send off!
    PixelCryptor: Encrypt Files with an Image

–Why it’s Useful–

One of the reasons I love this so much is that it requires little memorization. In my example above, I encrypted the file using our site’s logo. When I decrypted the same file on another computer I re-saved the image from the site, and named it to something different this time. PixelCryptor didn’t care about the picture’s filename, and had no troubles decrypting the file.

This is awesome because you could point someone to a particular image on the Internet: a logo from a website, an image from Flickr, or any image you have on your computer. You could pick your favorite photo to encrypt personal information, and then you never have to worry about forgetting a password. Nor do you have to worry about what they choose to name the image.

–Making it Better–

The only downside to the program is that the person doing the decrypting also has to install PixelCryptor. If there was a portable version that didn’t require installation it wouldn’t be so bad, but a message in their forum says that they are working on a standalone decryption utility which would also be nice.

PixelCryptor Homepage