Fibbing on the internet is as easy as stealing candy from a baby. So, when a Kim Komando Show listener wrote to me and said he was a world-renowned fashion photographer, I raised an eyebrow. Then he asked me for advice on storing nudes safely, and both eyebrows shot up.
Thanks to the magic of simple computer forensics, I verified his identity. His IP address matches where he says he lives. He’s shot photos of some of the top models in the world. And he’s taking some … shall we say private photos of his wife.
And he’s worried about some stranger getting their hands on those photos. His concern is well-founded: A few years ago, hackers leaked 400 naked pictures of celebrities.
Beyond that, he wondered if it’s safe at all to upload nude photos to a cloud service. The answer? It is if you know what you’re doing.
It all comes down to encryption
When you’re storing sensitive photos, you need to take extra precautions. Saving the files on your phone or computer leaves them unsecured. Cloud-based storage is the way to protect your privacy — with a caveat.
Just make sure you’re avoiding public digital archives hackers can invade. I’m talking about Google Drive, iCloud and Dropbox. They’re pretty obvious targets, so you’ll have to manually set up encryption protection if you use those. This means no one can look at your photos without knowing the secret passcode.
The easiest way to do this is with a cloud service that automatically comes with a private encryption key. That means only you know how to unlock the content you store. It just so happens our sponsor IDrive checks that box.
Encrypting your private photos is easier than you think
Using IDrive as an example, here’s how you would set up private key encryption:
- When installing this cloud storage program onto your device, select Private Key Encryption.
- Then, provide your encryption key. This will encrypt all the data on transmission and storage.
- Upload your photos onto IDrive to ensure no one but you can see them. You’ll have to enter your private key to view these photos.
You can reset your encryption key settings, but that automatically deletes all the data from your account. It may sound intense, but it’s also reassuring. There’s no way a hacker will be able to see the private photos you uploaded since they’ll disappear when the key changes.
IDrive also backs up your entire computer, including your documents, pictures and apps. It helped one woman save her data after a computer crash.
Losing your data can be devastating. Many threats can take your computer down, from tech issues to ransomware. That’s why you should use IDrive to protect your private files and back up everything important.
If you want to try this for yourself — for private photos, financial documents or anything else — I have a special deal for my listeners. Use this link and the promo code “Kim” at checkout to save 90% when you sign up at IDrive.com.
You can also compress and encrypt images
Here’s another solution if you want to stick with the cloud storage option you’re already using and it doesn’t allow you to set a private encryption key. You can compress and encrypt images with a free service like 7-Zip.
ZIP files are special because you can encrypt them. First, though, you have to compress them. As an example, here’s how to compress a file on 7-Zip:
- Open 7-Zip.
- Select the file or folder you want to compress.
- Then, click Add.
Just like that, your file is compressed. You can find it in the same place as your original file. To encrypt it, do this:
- Right-click on your file or folder.
- Click Properties.
- Select Advanced.
- Select the box that says Encrypt contents to secure data box.
- Select OK > Apply > OK.
After that, the files should be safe when stored on other cloud services. No one can open your pictures without the encryption key.
How to protect photos on your phone so no one else can see them
You can also encrypt photos with your iPhone’s native Notes app. You just have to use the Lock Note feature.
Setting it up can be a bit of a journey, but once you do, you can start taking personal photos through the Notes app, so they don’t appear in your camera roll. Go to Settings > Notes, then slide the toggle next to Save to Photos to the left to disable it.
Next, you’ll want to make sure your phone has the Notes app widget installed. This is easy. Head to your widget list by swiping left from the home screen. Scroll to your Notes app widget, and if it isn’t here, tap Edit, then the plus + sign and scroll through the widget options and tap Notes > Add Widget > Done.
From there, open the Notes app and inside a note, tap the camera icon > Take Photo or Video. From here, you can take private pictures that are saved in the Notes app instead of your camera roll.
What if you’re trying to secure pictures you already took? Select the image in your camera roll and hit Share (it’s the square with an arrow pointing up), then scroll through the app options until you see More and select it. Now, scroll down and tap Notes. The image is now saved in Notes.
Here’s how to create a password to secure the image:
- Open Notes and go to a note that you want to lock.
- Tap the More button, then tap Lock.
- Enter a password, then give yourself a password hint. If your device supports it, enable Face ID or Touch ID.
- Tap Done.
Next, you’ll want to delete the image from your camera roll. Now you can see it in the Notes app and no one else can see it unless they have the special password. Tap or click here for seven ways to privately share your photos.
Maybe that didn’t work for your iPhone. This may be the case if you’re using an older iPhone or outdated software. In this situation, create a hidden folder.
You could also save yourself a lot of time and just download an app that does the heavy lifting for you. Our IT genius John recommends AlbumLock. You can get it for 99 cents for iOS devices.
How to compress and encrypt photos on your Android
You’ll need an extra app if you want to password-protect sensitive photos on Android. First, install the Keepsafe photo vault onto your device. It will request permission to encrypt your photos and videos.
Select Grant access and create an account. Set up a Pin and tap the + button, then Import photos > Import. Now your private pictures won’t show up in your camera roll. You’ll only be able to view them in the KeepSafe photo vault.