June 21, 2011 at 11:36 AM ET
For a four-hour time period on Sunday, every account on popular file storage service Dropbox was left unlocked — meaning that anyone could access any account by entering any random password. What can you do to make sure that your files are safe if something similar ever happens again?
Now, before we get into what you should do to keep yourself and your files a bit safer, we should point out that Dropbox has made multiple announcements that whatever issues caused Sunday's security troubles have been taken care of and that a similar incident won't happen again. But all that reassurance shouldn't prevent you from taking some steps personally to protect your data — just in case.
Thanks to instructions from tip site Lifehacker, you can easily add a second layer of security to your Dropbox account in minutes:
Windows program SecretSync provides an easy way to encrypt a local folder before sending it to Dropbox. You install the app, it creates a new folder on your computer, and anything you place in that folder is automatically encrypted and then synced with Dropbox. It's actually quite clever.
If the idea of securing your cloud data by putting your trust in yet another cloud service is too much, you could instead encrypt your data yourself with the cross-platform, open-source encryption application TrueCrypt. Essentially you'd manually encrypt your files, then store your encrypted files on Dropbox. It won't be as easy to share or work with individual documents encrypted with TrueCrypt as non-TrueCrypt-encrypted files, but even Dropbox itself recommends using TrueCrypt for your most sensitive documents.
You can head over to Lifehacker for a detailed guide to the process of setting up automated, manual, or blanket encryption to your Dropbox account.