Wow! Just Wow! After happily using Free Hide Folder app for the past couple of months, I accidentally found the biggest flaw in it, “It doesn’t hide the files and folders from anyone”. Before I explain how I found the flaw, let me first warn you that if you are looking to actually hide your folders from everyone(including hackers or simple computer geeks) then never use apps that promise to hide your folders in the first place. What these apps generally do is to simply hide the folders so that they cannot be viewed by ordinary people, but beware it can indeed be viewed in every other possible way.
So what should you use to protect your data? Encryption software is the only choice, there are plenty of free ones available. Even Windows 7 comes with Bitlocker Drive Encyption tool that helps prevent data theft.
So What Really happened?
Here is the complete story. I used Free Hide Folder to protect some important documents and files that I didn’t want others to see, but as it happened anybody could access it easily. My hosting contract was expiring for my old website(which I don’t run anymore), so I prepared to make a backup of all website-related files present in the shared server.
Now here is what gave me a SHOCK.
The hosting provider had a build-in FTP tool called ‘Unlimited FTP’, which I used to backup my files. When I navigated to my main drive, I saw something unusual, there it was lying the hidden folder that I hid using the above mentioned tool. I thought it might be empty since most apps show a fake empty folder, but to my amazement all my files were inside available for anyone to grab it.
I immediately opened the app to confirm if the folder was really hidden, and YES it was hidden. But wait, how could it be hidden when the web based FTP can detect it easily. Either the ‘Unlimited FTP’ is way too powerful or the ‘Free Hide Folder’ app is seriously flawed, I expect the latter.
I went back to the hosting control panel to find this written under Unlimited FTP button, “Unlimited FTP is a Java Applet FTP Client to browse, manipulate, and transfer files between your local hard drive on your computer and the server.”.
“SO why am i worried about this app, just use another app”, you say
Go ahead and do a Google search on ‘hide folder’, the first result you will see will be of Free Hide Folder. Thousands if not millions of people are at security risk all because they are using this app. As long as the developer does not come up with with a solution, I will recommend everyone to stay away from this app. In the end I would say, ”Always prepare for the worse”. Do have some similar story to share or just another opinion, feel free to leave a comment.