Category Archives: Encryption Software Alternatives

Lock Your Computer’s Folders With Free BuduLock

imageIf you’re on the hunt for a free privacy application designed to password protect folders on your drives, including USB drives, then you’ll be interested in BuduLock.

As a bonus, BuduLock will protect your PC from unauthorized USB flash drive access by implementing password protection – password protection which effectively disables USB operations on your system. Considering that malware infection by Flash Drives, is the second leading cause of system infection ….

This small application is driven by a self explanatory tabbed interface, which even less experienced users will find easy to follow. Simply choose the folder to be locked – enter a password – and you’re done.

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Browsing to the selected folder in Windows Explorer reveals that the folder has been successfully locked, as indicated by the “lock” icon – shown in the following screen capture.

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Unlocking the folder is the process in reverse. Launch the application – highlight the selected folder – enter your password – done.

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Flash Drive Blocker:

When you disable the USB port, unauthorized users (those without the password), will be denied access.

Flash Drive Blocker Requirements:

UAC setting (User Account Control) feature must be disabled to use this feature. (Go to Control Panel > User Account > Turn UAC On or Off)

No password is required during the initial setup – (blank password). To setup and change your password, go to “Change Password”.

BuduLock will only disable the USB port for flash drive for that particular computer. It does not disable your flash drive.

System requirements: Windows Vista, Win 7.

Download at: Developer’s site.

The application is slightly more cumbersome to use than it needs to be – no access is available by way of the context menu. The addition of context menu access to the lock/unlock function is an improvement the developer should consider.

Other than this convenience issue, I found BuduLock very easy to use and perfect for locking folders on shared machines.

Last in a series:

Additional articles in this series on encryption and privacy:

Free AxCrypt – Encrypt, Compress, Decrypt in Windows Explorer

TrueCrypt – Free Encryption To The Max

EncryptOnClick – Encrypt and Decrypt Files and Folders With A Few Clicks

Free Secret Disk – Keep Your Secret Computer Files “Secret”

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Filed under Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Encryption Software Alternatives, flash drive, Freeware, Privacy, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

TrueCrypt – Free Encryption To The Max

imageSophisticated and  aware computer users know, that financial data and other confidential information, can easily be subject to intrusive viewing by those not authorized to do so.

Some examples of how this might occur:

Internet malware attack: Increasingly, statistics reinforce the fact that financial data continues to be targeted by hackers/information thieves, for the purpose of identity theft.

Contrast that reality with these facts; there is no such thing as a totally secure Internet connected computer. All Internet connected computers are subject to attack and compromise.

Lost or stolen Laptop: How often have we read the following – 200,00 (insert your own number here), bank account numbers, Social Insurance Numbers, names, addresses and dates of birth were on a laptop stolen/lost earlier this week.

In too many of these cases, negligently, the data is unencrypted. Certainly Laptop theft or loss is not restricted to organizations; it can just as easily happen to you.

Lost or stolen USB drive: Since USB flash drives are so portable, you can take a drive virtually anywhere. Just like most items that are portable and that you carry with you, this type of drive can be lost, or stolen.

To reduce or eliminate the security threat of sensitive data exposure then, the most prudent course of action is data encryption. Essentially, data encryption is a secure process for keeping your sensitive and confidential information private. It’s a process by which bits of data are mathematically jumbled with a password-key. The Encryption process makes the data unreadable unless, or until, decrypted.

TrueCrypt is an outstanding free open source software application (one I have been using for years), for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volumes.

On-the-fly encryption simply means that data are automatically encrypted, or decrypted, just before they are loaded or saved, without any user intervention.

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TrueCrypt uses 11 algorithms for encrypting private files in a password-protected volume. You can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or on a portable storage device such as a USB flash drive.

Once your encrypted files are mounted to a local drive with your password or key, you can manipulate those files, i.e. you can open, copy, delete, or modify them. When you have completed working on those files, you then dismount the volume and the files are then safely secured from unauthorized access.

Indicative of this application’s popularity is the fact that it is downloaded tens of thousands of times each day, across the Internet.

Fast Facts:

Creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk

Encrypts an entire hard disk partition or a storage device such as USB flash drive

Encryption is automatic, real-time (on-the-fly) and transparent

Provides two levels of plausible deniability, in case an adversary forces you to reveal the password – Hidden volume – No TrueCrypt volume can be identified (volumes cannot be distinguished from random data)

Encryption algorithms: AES-256, Serpent, and Twofish. Mode of operation: XTS

Ability to encrypt a system partition/drive (i.e. a partition/drive where Windows is installed) with pre-boot authentication (anyone who wants to gain access and use the system, read and write files, etc., needs to enter the correct password each time before the system starts

Pipelined operations increasing read/write speed by up to 100% (Windows)

Mac OS X version

Graphical user interface for the Linux version of TrueCrypt

XTS mode of operation – XTS is faster and more secure than LRW

As I said, I have been using TrueCrypt for a number of years, and I have developed a lot of confidence in this outstanding application. If you determine that encryption of your sensitive data is a priority, I highly recommend that you give TrueCrypt a try.

How effective is TrueCrypt? If you have any doubts as to how effective TrueCrypt really is, then read this article. FBI hackers fail to crack TrueCrypt:

The FBI has admitted defeat in attempts to break the open source encryption used to secure hard drives seized by Brazilian police during a 2008 investigation.

System Requirements: Windows 7/Vista/XP (64 bit), Mac OS X, and Linux

Download at: TrueCrypt

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Encryption, Encryption Software, Encryption Software Alternatives, flash drive, Freeware, Open Source, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Free Secret Disk – Keep Your Secret Computer Files “Secret”

imageThe days of privileged information, and personal privacy, have gone with the wind. Private information concerning you is accumulated, bought and sold, and then manipulated for profit. If you’re like most people in developed countries – you probably don’t care. After all, you have nothing to hide; right?

In the broader sense, you are probably right; not that there’s much you could do about it, in any case. We really do live in the era of “Big Brother”.

Privacy though, can be a real issue when it comes to your computer, and the information stored on your Hard Drive. Something, I’m sure, you do not want compromised.

Most of us have information on our machines that we consider privileged information – sensitive financial data readily comes to mind. As well, many of us have additional files that we may consider sensitive and confidential. Files that we don’t want a spouse, girlfriend, a child, or others, to have ready access to.

Recently, I’ve noticed the unusually high number of child pornographers (those with child pornography on their Hard Drives), who were caught (including in my own community), following maintenance work on their computers by computer technicians.

Possession of child pornography is a heinous crime, and we should use all appropriate methods to root out both its production, and possession; applying the most severe criminal sanctions for those convicted.

Having said that however, I’ve always had an aversion to computer technicians inappropriately searching through customers’ Hard Drives. Something which occurs much more often than the average user might suspect.

Hint: Don’t keep what might be considered embarrassing personal pics on your computer unless they are encrypted, or otherwise protected. You wouldn’t want that type of pic copied by someone (and they frequently are by those having unrestricted access), for their own uses – would you?

I’ve long been a strong believer in encrypting information that needs to be restricted, and there are many free encryption programs available for download, that do a great job.

Encryption though, is not the only way to restrict access to private information on a computer. Last year, I came across a neat little program – that’s since been updated – which handles the privacy issue in an non-encrypted way. A way that is effective in ensuring private files remain private.

Secret Disk 1.27 (updated January 23, 2011), does one thing, and it does it very well. It creates a separate secret disk on your Hard Drive, in a non-complex way, for your “secret” files. When the disk is locked it’s invisible, and cannot be seen by other users.

Installation and setup is a snap. Following installation, simply assign a password to Secret Disk, and you’re good to go – simple, fast, and uncomplicated!

Multi-language.

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The screen capture below, shows Secret Disk as drive “Z” on my Windows 7 test system.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

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Fast facts:

Separate disk for your private files – this tool will create a separate disk for your private files.

Access with a password – you can access Secret Disk only with a password.

Locking – when locked Secret Disk disappears and stays invisible with all contents.

One second protection – when you need protection Secret Disk disappears within one second with all content, no matter how many files you have on the disk.

Power failure – in case of power (or Windows) failure, Secret Disk will be automatically locked.

Automatic locking – Secret Disk can be automatically locked if you away from your PC (screensaver is running), or when you press the  F8 key.

No hardware – no additional hardware required. Space for secret disk will be taken from your system disk.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a free application to protect your secret files from prying eyes, Secret Disk is definitely worth taking a look at.

Secret Disk is a particularly good application for novice, or casual computer users, who don’t have the skills to work with more complex encryption applications.

System requirements: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7

Supported languages: English, French, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Norwegian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Turkish, Japanese, Finnish, German

Download at: Developer’s site (PrivacyRoot.com)

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Filed under downloads, Encryption Software Alternatives, Freeware, Privacy, Software, System Security, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download Free Encrypt Stick 4.3 – A Digital Privacy Manager

image When talking about encryption applications, my good buddy Glenn Taggart likes to say, “My primary use is encrypting my personal information in the event prying eyes happen upon my stuff.”

I can’t argue with that. Financial data and other privileged information on a computer can easily be subject to intrusive viewing by those not authorized to do so.

Of course, it’s not only those with physical access that can probe a computer for sensitive and confidential information. Internet malware attack statistics show, more and more, that this type of information is targeted by hackers/information thieves, for the purpose of identity theft.

Can it happen to you? The short answer is – you can count on an attempt. The reality is; there is no such thing as a totally secured internet connected computer. All internet connected computers are subject to attack.

As well, many of us have additional files that we may consider sensitive and confidential. Files that we don’t want a spouse, girlfriend, a child, or others, to have ready access to.

To reduce or eliminate the security threat to your sensitive data, the most prudent course for you to follow is to encrypt your data. Data encryption makes the data unreadable unless, or until, decrypted by you.

I’ve just finished testing the recently released Encrypt Stick digital privacy application, which is available in both a free version and a commercial version, and I have to say, I’m very impressed.

Encrypt Stick runs directly (and only), from a USB drive which guarantees that no foot print is left on your machine.

On launching the application, which must be launched from the flash drive to which it was downloaded (or in my case copied), the following screen appears. The process of encryption is very straightforward from there, as the screen captures below indicate.

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After activation (in this case the free version), you will be prompted for a password.

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The first time you run Encrypt Stick digital privacy software, you’ll be presented with a quick tutorial which explains the basic steps so that you can get up and running quickly. A very cool idea!

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Please be aware that you must enter your password before you can gain access to the application.

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Double clicking on the new vault (First Vault), which I’ve created on my D drive, allows access to all of the application’s functions.

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In this case, I encrypted a test file (application) – TaskBar Repair Tool. You’ll notice I have the option of removing this file (the unencrypted version), from my D drive or, leaving it on the drive as is.

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The end result is, the test file is now safely encrypted and stored in “First Vault”. To ensure the file was stable, I then launched the application directly from inside the vault.

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Here’s how the developer describes Encrypt Stick:

Encrypt Stick digital privacy software turns any Flash Drive into a personal Digital Privacy Manager (DPM). The DPM is the key that locks down privacy for your sensitive digital files.

It’s a complete file security system for all your desktops, laptops, storage devices and portable USB devices. Most utilities can do only part of the job. Encrypt Stick software does it all, quicker and easier — without expensive hardware.

This application is very substantial, and includes a vast number of features. However, the free version is limited to 20 MB of storage. Still, an average user should find this limitation acceptable.

Fast Facts – Free version:

Free Downloadable Updates

No Administrator Access Necessary to setup or run Encrypt Stick

Setup and running in under 5 minutes!

Easy to use – no learning curve

Compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista/Win7

Compatible with Mac OS 10.4+

Encrypt Stick runs from your flash drive – not your computer

Uses 512bit Polymorphic Encryption

Encryption Algorithm is unique to each Flash Drive

High speed encryption

Protects any type of digital file

Encrypted Vault’s are hidden from other users

Encrypted Flash Drive Storage Space 20mb

Store Encrypted Vaults on any computer

Store Encrypted Vaults on Network Servers

Protects Files and folders on any type of storage device

Unlimited Folders – Create folders within Vaults to organize your files

Automatic Timeout Feature – Never leave your files exposed   5 minutes

Encrypted Virtual Keyboard – Eliminate Key Stroke Logging

And lots more

System requirements: Mac OSX 10.4+, Windows XP, Vista, Win 7.

Download at: the developer’s site (ENC).

As an added bonus, Encrypt Stick includes both a password manager, and a virtual keyboard. Testing of both these additional features was outside the scope of this review, however.

To get a feel for just how easy this application is to run, checkout – Walkthroughs – Encrypting Files To Your Flash Drive, on the developer’s site.

The following are additional free encryption applications we’ve previously reviewed here:

TrueCrypt

AxCrypt

EncryptOnClick

Secret Disk

USB Safeguard

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Filed under Apple, cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Encryption, Encryption Software, Encryption Software Alternatives, Freeware, Mac OS X, Portable Applications, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP

I’ve Got a Secret and Free Secret Disk Keeps it That Way

imageThe days of privileged information, and personal privacy, have gone with the wind.

Private information concerning you is accumulated, bought and sold, and then manipulated for profit. If you’re like most people in developed countries – you probably don’t care. After all, you have nothing to hide; right?

In the broader sense, you are probably right; not that there’s much you could do about it, in any case. We really do live in the era of “Big Brother”.

Privacy though, can be a real issue when it comes to your computer, and the information stored on your Hard Drive. Something, I’m sure, you do not want compromised.

Most of us have information on our machines that we consider privileged information – sensitive financial data readily comes to mind. As well, many of us have additional files that we may consider sensitive and confidential. Files that we don’t want a spouse, girlfriend, a child, or others, to have ready access to.

Recently, I’ve noticed the unusually high number of child pornographers (those with child pornography on their Hard Drives), who were caught (including in my own community), following maintenance work on their computers by Technicians. Curiously, in almost every case; Technicians employed by national computer chains.

Possession of child pornography is a heinous crime, and we should use all appropriate methods to root out both its production, and possession; applying the most severe criminal sanctions for those convicted.

Having said that however, I’ve always had an aversion to computer technicians inappropriately searching through customers’ Hard Drives. Something which occurs much more often than the average user might suspect.

Hint: Don’t keep what might be considered embarrassing personal pics on your computer unless they are encrypted, or otherwise protected. You wouldn’t want that type of pic copied by someone (and they frequently are by those having unrestricted access), for their own uses – would you?

I’ve long been a strong believer in encrypting information that needs to be restricted, and there are many free encryption programs available for download, that do a great job.

Encryption though, is not the only way to restrict access to private information on a computer. Recently, I came across a neat little program that handles the privacy issue in an non-encrypted way. A way that is effective in ensuring private files remain private.

Secret Disk does one thing, and it does it very well. It creates a separate secret disk on your Hard Drive, in a non-complex way, for your “secret” files. When the disk is locked it’s invisible, and cannot be seen by other users.

Installation and setup is a snap. Following installation, simply assign a password to Secret Disk, and you’re good to go – simple, fast, and uncomplicated!

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The screen capture below, shows Secret Disk as drive “X” on my Windows 7 test system.

Secret Disk 1

Fast facts:

Separate disk for your private files – this tool will create a separate disk for your private files.

Access with a password – you can access Secret Disk only with a password.

Locking – when locked Secret Disk disappears and stays invisible with all contents.

One second protection – when you need protection Secret Disk disappears within one second with all content, no matter how many files you have on the disk.

Power failure – in case of power (or Windows) failure, Secret Disk will be automatically locked.

Automatic locking – Secret Disk can be automatically locked if you away from your PC (screensaver is running), or when you press the  F8 key.

No hardware – no additional hardware required. Space for secret disk will be taken from your system disk.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a free application to protect your secret files from prying eyes, Secret Disk is definitely worth taking a look at.

Secret Disk is a particularly good application for novice, or casual computer users, who don’t have the skills to work with more complex encryption applications.

System requirements: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7

Supported languages: English, French, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Norwegian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Turkish, Japanese, Finnish, German

Download at: Developer’s site (PrivacyRoot.com)

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under downloads, Encryption Software Alternatives, Freeware, pornography, Software, System Security, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP