Dropbox, Google Drive get in-browser security boost through BoxCryptor plugin

Here’s one for business or otherwise privacy-hungry users of Chrome: BoxCryptor has released an experimental plugin that makes it possible to encrypt and decrypt files stored in Dropbox and Google Drive without needing to fiddle around with desktop apps.

Cloud storage services are pretty secure but, as Dropbox ably demonstrated earlier this year, a bit of extra client-side encryption is a good idea if you’re dealing with sensitive information. Germany-based BoxCryptor covers quite a range of platforms, including Windows, Windows RT, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android, but this is the first time it’s gone in-browser.

According to BoxCryptor CEO Andrea Wittek, the benefit of that would become apparent if you happen to want to download and decrypt something using someone else’s machine. I can also see the feature coming in handy for Chrome OS business users, down the line at least.

“We call it an alpha version,” Wittek told me. “We’ve been testing it for a while. We definitely recommend people try it, though we wouldn’t recommend it for very sensitive files. It can crash – the worst thing that can happen is you think it’s encrypted a file and it hasn’t.”

It’s so alpha, in fact, that right now you need Chrome dev channel version 25.0 to make it work.

All going well, BoxCryptor hopes to slap on a beta label in a couple of weeks’ time. Wittek said the plan was to bring out plugins for other browsers, such as Firefox, later – Google Drive users tend to use Chrome, she pointed out. (Mind you, most people tend to use Chrome, period.)

BoxCryptor is still pretty well positioned in this space, largely due to ease of use and the range of platforms it supports. That said, there is competition around – a very new Austrian startup called expressFlow is also touting a Chrome plugin – so constant development is a good move.

Here’s a video of how the Chrome plugin works: