Scrivener for a clinical record logbook

I am a physician and I am using Scrivener for collecting my professional experiences in clinical case management. I collect meaningful data of clinical cases in a specific folder (‘Records’, with the real data of patients) and other folders for pathology, hospitals and so on. Then, I use these data for literary comments on diseases and human cases. Of course, literary drafts are completely void of sensitive data with use of fictional names and references to specific cases.
I wonder if I can strenghten the security of the ‘Records folder’ by encryption or password-protection of this specific folder in the Scrivener Project. At present I am not aware of any method to do this in Scrivener, and if not present, this would be a nice option to add to Scrivener in order to allow Dropbox synchronization of sensitive material in a specific folder.
Maybe this option could be added to the Scrivener ‘Synch panel’ by allowing a folder selection textbox and a password to use for encryption (something like the ‘save with password’ option of Microsoft Word).

Thanks in advance for any help or comments.

If you are on an Apple OSX computer, you may want to consider creating an encrypted disk image and storing your scrivener files plus any related sensitive information there.

A disk image is like a container where you can store data. I think of it as a virtual portable hard drive. You can store disk images in a dropbox folder, on an external hard drive, or on any other storage space on your computer.

To create a disk image, use the Disk Utilities application. Setting the format to sparse or sparse bundle allows the disk image to start off with a small size and grow to fit your data - up to a maximum that you set at the time the disk image is created.

I think that encrypted disk images are a great way to password protect chunks or portions of data on a hard drive, and it seems like this would be particularly suitable for dealing with medical records.

For what thats worth…

There’s a discussion about increasing security of Scrivener projects here. In summary: what Bill said (i.e. use an encrypted disk image) but with some third party options.

I would also encourage you, if you are using a recent version of Mac OS X, to encrypt your entire disk using Apple’s File Vault 2 (built into OS X Lion and Mountain Lion). By encrypting your entire disk it keeps disk use simple and has the added benefit that you can remotely wipe your hard drive if it falls into the wrong hands. This is particularly useful if you use a laptop.

I used to store all my client data on encrypted disk images. The downside was that, eventually, the disk images become too small (especially if you include non-text data). Now I use FileVault to encrypt my entire disk and create separate log-in accounts for other people needing to use my computer. I am still considering creating a separate account for myself just for clinic-related work as an additional security step. Naturally I also inform all my clients, both verbally and in writing, where their information is stored and how I use it before we begin.

In terms of sync options, I suggest investigating Cubby. Cubby is similar to Dropbox except that (a) you can use any folder as “cubby” (unlike DropBox which will only sync one) and (b) it is (or can be) more secure than DropBox. If you sign up for a paid account, then you can encrypt any folder (“cubby”) and this password must be used to access it remotely. The benefit over DropBox is that no-one, not even staff of Cubby, can access encrypted cubbies. On DropBox, everything is accessible.

I haven’t tried Cubby, but I’ve used SpiderOak. It has a linux-like interface, you get 2GB of space for free, but you designate any of your folders for synchronisation, and the documents are encrypted by your machine before uploading. The folders are not encrypted on your machine, but no-one can at all can access them on your SpiderOak space without knowing the password.

Are the folders on your own machine encrypted with Cubby, Nom?


:smiley: Your suggestions are certainly good solutions to my problem and I thank you for answering.

However, what about an encryption process of single folders directly in Scrivener? (It’s for Scrivener people!).This would allow more easy synchronization via Dropbox. Of course, this is simply a suggestion for a wish list of new features. I imagine that one could select a folder in Scrivener and decide to password-encrypt that folder before accessing the File–> sync to Dropbox procedure. I expect this process to be similar to password-protection of files in Word. It would be a highly valuable addition to an already striking product. I am really fascinated by Scrivener now that I am using it routinely.

I read the discussion about additional security in Scrivener. MacOS encrypted disk images have the problem of the size limit (I don’t know how many data I will put in that folder), and the other solutions encrypt the whole content of the Scrivener Project, thus adding additional time to the sync process. Sometimes (as in my case) you don’t need to secure all the data in the project, but only some of them in a specific folder. However, I understand that implementing this feature can be difficult and Scrivener programmers can consider this useless in terms of their product. But, I have to point out, that the wonderful responsiveness of Scrivener people is what makes the difference with similar products like Storymill (which I used in the past!).

No. Local folders remain unchanged, but contents encrypted (as I understand the process) prior to syncing.

I used to SpiderOak, in fact all of my thesis backups were stored using it. However SpiderOak’s interface is, to put it kindly, clunky. In contrast, Cubby is ultra smooth and oh-so simple. Not without issue (see the uproar online when they suddenly stopped their beta) but overall the best cloud service I’ve tried. For the record, I’ve also tried DropBox, SpiderOak, Box, iCloud, Wuala, …and some others that I’ve forgotten. :blush: I still use iCloud and, occasionally when apps won’t support WebDav, DropBox.

You can always submit a feature request on the wish list forum and see what Keith says. He’s more likely to see it there than here.

In the meantime, you have a few suggestions, although I strongly recommend investigating alternatives to DropBox (such as Cubby or SpiderOak) for information where security is essential.

For a Mac user, clunky is the word. It reminds me of a posting when the Windows version was first being trialled and Linux-users were finding ways to use it — before LAP began compiling a Linux version.
Someone suggested to a user who was having problems that they should simply get a Mac and use the already mature Mac version of Scrivener. The reply came back:

“I would never want to use an operating system that I didn’t have to beat into submission.”

I felt a bit that I was having to beat SpiderOak into submission … put it in a separate Space that I used for no other purpose as the window had to be open when it was running, for instance, but I didn’t want that window cluttering up my desktop.

I posted my proposal in the wish list forum on February 27, 2013

At present, no reply has been posted.