SysAdmin – Quick & Dirty File Encryption For Online Storage

April 21, 2015

It’s tax season and I like to backup my tax files to Dropbox. That way I’ve got offsite storage. To mitigate the fear of putting sensitive information on the cloud I encrypt it using the OpenSSL software available on all OS X Macs via Terminal.

Archive All The Files

I’m old school and use tar to create an archive of all my files.

> tar -cvf taxes-2014.tar taxes-2014-dir/.

this creates a file named taxes-2014.tar that contains all files in the directory taxes-2014-dir

Use OpenSSL to Encrypt and Decrypt

> openssl des3 -salt -in taxes-2014.tar -out taxes-2014.tar.des3.pwh

> openssl des3 -d -salt -in taxes-2014.tar.des3.pwh -out taxes-2014.tar

I like to append a Password Hint (pwh) to these filenames. They only get accessed once a year so I add a 1 to 2 character suffix as a memory jogger.


OSX daily has a brief discussion of OpenSSL file encryption/decryption.