If you’ve ever had some pictures or ideas that are just too important to trust to any old cloud storage service, then you should take a look at McAfee’s Personal Locker (iOS App Store, free with subscription to McAfee LiveSafe). This super-secure app puts layers of protection around each file, using your voice and your face to make sure you’re the only one accessing your stuff.
Login, Login, and then Login
Other cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox are all about ease of access, but Personal Locker is the opposite. Though your files are stored on the cloud, they’re only accessible to other devices you authorize (you can also use the app to de-authorize devices). Only your trusted devices will pass muster with Personal Locker, so forget about web access or pulling down files from a public computer.
You can shoot photos (no videos on iOS) or write a note in Personal Locker, and choose whether to apply low or high security. Low security will just require your PIN to view, but high security will require you to enter your PIN, take a photo of yourself, and speak into your phone. Cleverly, Personal Locker has you say two phrases, one of which is different each time to prevent a Sneakers-esque scenario where you’re tricked into saying your passphrase aloud.
I also appreciated that any photos I took in Personal Locker were not be saved to my Camera Roll—so my secrets were always secure.
In his review of McAfee LiveSafe, Neil Rubenking said that using Personal Locker felt like being James Bond, and he’s right. Face and voice recognition are exotic technologies, and Personal Locker makes it seem so effortless. That said, it can be a bit of a pain to run through all the logins when you just want to get access to something. I recommend using Personal Locker for infrequently used, but critical files—like stolen submarine blueprints or incriminating photos of famous people.
In my testing, I confirmed that each layer worked as advertised. Pictures of me with my glasses on or off passed muster with Personal Locker, but a picture of PC Mag analyst Jill Duffy failed. Voice print identified me every time, but rejected me when I spoke in a funny voice.
I should note that during setup, you’ll be asked to enter even more information than those used to secure your documents. Because these were questions—like what year my mother was born—I presume that they’ll be used in some kind of recovery capacity.
Not Quite Mr. Bond
Though Personal Locker is very cool, it has some annoying limitations. Not being able to add videos is pretty annoying, but you’re also limited to only 1GB of files so video would eat through that pretty quick. Also, the limitations of iOS means that you can only upload files from your Camera Roll. Whatever you can get in there Personal Locker should see.
Also, though Personal Locker has many layers of protection, it doesn’t always apply them. For example, if you’ve recently authenticated a high security file, you won’t have to do so again. If a rival secret agent sees you logging in, he has only to quickly snatch your device to see (at least) one of your files.
But You’re Not A Secret Agent
Personal Locker may not be perfect, but it is a carefully engineered application. It’s clear that the developers put a lot of thought into balancing high security with ease of accessibility. It won’t do everything, but what it does it does quite well.
The big drawback is that Personal Locker is only available to McAfee LiveSafe subscribers, and LiveSafe costs a $79.99 a year. But when you consider that the hefty price tag includes coverage for all of your devices—PC, Mac, Android, BlackBerry, iOS—it starts to look like a bargain. If you’re already going to get a security suite, McAfee’s is a great choice and Personal Locker is the icing on the security cake.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc