Google Drive prepares to add support for opening encrypted files

Google Drive prepares to add support for opening encrypted files

Update 1 (11/10/2020 @ 11:28 ET): A tipster has revealed more information about Google Drive’s file encryption/decryption feature. Click here for more information. The article, as published earlier today, is preserved below.

Google is seemingly gearing up to introduce a feature that will allow Drive users to download and open encrypted files. A hint regarding the upcoming feature was discovered in strings of code found in Google Drive for Android version 2.20.441.06.40.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

Here are the new strings that we found:

<string name="dialog_download_and_decrypt_button">Download and decrypt</string>
<string name="dialog_download_and_decrypt_message">Download this file to view it</string>
<string name="dialog_download_and_decrypt_title">"Can't open file"</string>
<string name="dialog_editor_file_encrypted_message">"You'll be able to open encrypted files soon"</string>
<string name="dialog_editor_file_encrypted_title">Upcoming feature</string>
<string name="action_card_download_and_decrypt">Download and decrypt</string>

One of the strings mentions being able to open encrypted files directly in Drive, with another string mentioning it will be an upcoming feature. Other strings mention the ability to download and decrypt files.

Beyond what’s in the new strings, there’s not much more information to go on, such as if Drive users will be able to encrypt files directly on the web or in Google’s apps.

Cloud storage is a great way to back up data and access that data from any device. However, Google Drive doesn’t offer a native encryption feature, although there are add-ons that support encryption and decryption. Encrypting files and other documents is a great way to keep these files safe from prying eyes, whether there’s an account breach or other security issue. Seeing native encryption added to Google Drive would be a nice way to further protect your sensitive information.

Without encryption features in place, there are plenty of steps you can take to keep your information safe on Google Drive, including using a strong password and enabling two-factor authentication. In the event you want to encrypt the files you upload, there are apps such as Boxcryptor, which features Google Drive integration.

With strings suggesting a decryption feature is in the works, maybe we’ll see something soon. Google recently added a paid VPN feature to its Google One service, so perhaps whatever encryption feature is coming could be behind a paywall, too.

Google Drive
Google Drive
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free+

Update 1: More Details & Screenshots

Shortly after we published this article, Android developer and reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi has revealed more details about this upcoming feature. In a tweet, he revealed that the Google Drive app will let you encrypt documents saved on your device (ie. documents marked as available offline). Changing this setting will delete any copies of the file from your device.

About author

Brandon Russell
Brandon Russell

Brandon's love of technology can be traced back to his childhood, when he would obsessively watch Back to the Future. Since then he's followed the industry and its many innovations, from handheld consoles to powerful smartphones. He's still waiting on a hoverboard.