Encryption and the McLean Hunt Website

Our website is open to the public. No longer are any webpages protected behind passwords. This makes access much easier for Hunt residents, but will also mean that anyone can see our site and web crawlers that index pages will have access to the entire site and all photos and documents. Because we have very few files that are private and intended for use only by the residents, the officers, and the Board, this is largely a non-issue.  We no longer post our directory on the site and any documents specific to individual homeowners are not kept on the website. 

For those few documents that require confidentiality, we are adopting an encryption strategy to keep them safe. Documents that are not in the public domain will be encrypted using 256-bit AES encryption. As of 1 April 2018 we have no encrypted documents on the website, but should we place some on the website in the future, be assured those documents will be unreadable by anyone without the password. 


A word about the public domain; many of the Hunt documents are public--our covenants, by-laws, articles of incorporation, etc. These are not encrypted. However, draft versions of these documents may be encrypted until such a time as the Board determines that general access would not be detrimental to planned actions. Documents not in the public domain could include our guidelines for the Architecture Control Committee (ACC), Board minutes, forms and templates for sellers packets and more.


A great tool for the job: AES Crypt

To encrypt our documents, we are using a small freeware tool, AES Crypt. This tool can be downloaded from the AES Crypt website. Note that this link is for the 64-bit version for Windows. (If you have an older computer or a Mac or Linux computer, you will need to go to the AES Crypt download page by simply clicking the button to the right and obtain the appropriate version for your computer.) Once you have downloaded the ZIP file, open it and find the readme.txt file within. That will contain instructions to complete installation. All the instructions here are for Windows machines. Once installed, the program is extremely simple to use.


DECRYPTING a file, such as the Hunt Directory: To decrypt a file, first place it on your Desktop (recommended). It must have a .AES extension. If it does not, rename it and add a .AES extension. Right click on the file and select "AES Decrypt" and you will be prompted for the password, which you must obviously have. When you are decrypting a file, you will only have to enter the password once and click "OK". A new file will appear on your Desktop, assuming that's where the .AES file is. You can simply delete the encrypted (.AES) file once you have the unencrypted version.


To specifically decrypt the Directory, click the link to the Directory on the Documents page. You must call or send the webmaster an email to get the password for the Directory. Your browser will download the file and perhaps ask you where to save it. Recommend you save it to your Desktop. If it does not ask, look in your Downloads folder. There will be a file with a nonsensical name like "7c68d3683aa71771c7d22ceef4cf8ab5", or something similar. Rename the file to "Directory.PDF.AES". Next, right click on the file and select "AES Decrypt" and you will be prompted for the password. Enter the password and click "OK". A new file will appear. That should be "Directory.PDF" and it will now be unencrypted and ready to view.


ENCRYPTING a file: To encrypt a file (useful when emailing sensitive material to a friend), right click on the file and select "AES Encrypt" from the menu that appears. You will be prompted to enter a password twice. Don't forget it! A new file will appear in this format: FILENAME.EXT.AES. Case doesn't matter. This is the encrypted version of your file. The original file will remain unchanged. If you are encrypting to send information by email, you can keep your original and email the file with the .AES extension. If you are encrypting to keep safe, you will need to delete the original file and only save the .AES file. Remember the password! Once you place the original in the Recycle Bin, don't forget to empty the bin, otherwise someone might recover the original document.


If you have any trouble with these instructions, please send a note to the webmaster.

Keep your files private, too!

Keeping your documents at home safe is just as important as us keeping our documents safe. The AESCrypt tool is free and extremely easy to use. Once you have installed it on your computer, you can use it secure your important documents.

For instance, if you need to send a private document or photo to a friend, you can encrypt the item and send it in email with no fear that the item will be seen by anyone other than the intended recipient. JUST DON'T FORGET THE PASSWORD! If you forget the password, the document is lost. And don't send the password in the email with the document--sounds pretty obvious, but people do it. Get the password to your recipient separately.

The button below will take you to the AES Crypt website.