Store data securely in the cloud with Cryptomator

Opening and Closing

After unlocking the vault, Cryptomator opens a window with a file manager containing the virtual drive. At the same time, the padlock symbol in front of the relevant vault opens. You can quickly see which vaults are open, even if there are several (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Cryptomator also manages multiple vaults simultaneously.

You can drag and drop to move, or simply copy, the files to be encrypted to the virtual drive. In the main window, you will also see a graph in the right window segment that shows the transfer rates for encryption and decryption in megabytes per second. The red line indicates the encryption throughput, while the green line depicts decryption throughput (Figure 3). The software also opens several vaults simultaneously if required. In our lab, Cryptomator showed no weaknesses, even when encrypting and decrypting files with a size of more than 15GB.

Figure 3: Cryptomator visualizes the transfer rates during encryption and decryption.

As soon as changes (due to users storing and encrypting new files) occur on the virtual Cryptomator drive, the cloud client synchronizes the data with the server. This ensures that only encrypted data are sent to the cloud server. The files can be viewed and downloaded in the web interface. However, Linux identifies them as binary data; the content is not revealed either by name or file size. To stop working with Cryptomator, click Lock Vault on the right side of the main window. The software then closes the vault, which is indicated by the locked padlock icon.

When you open a vault again, you can immediately work with the decrypted files on the virtual drive. When loading and saving, the software then displays the data rates again in the graphical interface. If you close Cryptomator without closing the open vaults, the window is minimized to the taskbar, where you can access it at any time.

To remove a vault, click the minus icon in the lower left corner of the main window. If the vault is open, it is grayed, and the action cannot be performed. If the vault is closed, a window appears to inform you that the software is not removing the vault (the actual directory containing the data) from the system, but only the link from the graphical front end. You therefore need to manually delete the target directory from the system afterwards (Figure 4).

Figure 4: The software only removes the entries for vaults; the data contained in the vaults are retained.

Resource Hog

We noticed some unusual behavior when running Cryptomator in our lab. For inexplicable reasons, the processor load and memory consumption of the system increased until the computer almost came to a standstill.

On launching Cryptomator, the resource consumption was normal. The same was true of mounting a vault and for as long as the vault remained open. But after closing a vault, the load on a multicore CPU increased to over 50 percent on all cores. The memory consumption increased continuously until the system started to swap out and became virtually impossible to use. We noticed that Cryptomator was eating up about 2GB RAM per minute (Figure 5). This started as soon as the application prompted us for the password for a suspended vault. Closing the software released the resources immediately.

Figure 5: A possible bug in the software causes the system resources to go completely out of control after closing a vault.

Further research revealed the following: This peculiarity occurs if you use the cryptomator-1.4.15 AppImage offered by the project on openSUSE. On Ubuntu 19.04, the processor load increases permanently to 100 percent, but without depleting the RAM. This is primarily due to the gnome-shell process, which immediately returns to its original value of one to two percent CPU load after closing the AppImage.

We also observed this behavior in the Windows variant. Although it did not use all of the CPU capacity, the load on our test system still increased permanently to about 30 percent.

Conclusions

Cryptomator significantly increases your data security in the cloud. It relies on intelligent encryption to not only modify the content by cryptographic means, but also abstract the file details and metadata. The software is extremely stable and can also handle large files.

The very simple front end is noteworthy. It does not present any surprises even for inexperienced users, which makes transparent encryption easy to handle even for beginners.

Annoyingly, what appears to be a bug in the software causes the CPU to use up to 100 percent of its capacity when displaying the password prompt on Ubuntu. On openSUSE, the CPU consumption doesn't increase that much, but the RAM is depleted relatively quickly.

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