Category Archives: Encryption Software

Download TrueCrypt – TrueCrypt Beats The FBI Decryption Team!

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When the subject of file/disk encryption comes up, when talking with my non-technical friends, I often get the oddest looks and the strangest comments. These comments generally revolve around the fact (my friends’ facts), that only someone with something to hide would need to encrypt files.

They’re right of course, but not for the reasons they set forth.

In the real world, 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 (I’ve personally lost two), 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 using for the last several 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 in this latest release (November 23, 2009), 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 earlier, 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 cybercrime, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Encryption, Encryption Software, Freeware, Linux, Mac, Open Source, Portable Applications, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free AxCrypt – Encrypt, Compress, Decrypt in Windows Explorer

My good buddy and regular guest writer, Glenn Taggart, has a pretty convincing perspective on what he’s looking for in a free encryption application. See if you agree with Glenn.

Since I made the move to Windows 7 about a year ago, I was unable to continue to use one of my favorite programs.

AxCrypt is a program that will encrypt a file or folder, and will also compress and shred files. My primary use is encrypting my personal information in the event prying eyes happen upon my stuff.

Before I started using Windows 7, I was using Windows XP 32 bit. At the time, AxCrypt did not support 64 bit systems. When I upgraded my operating system to Win7, I upgraded to 64 bit. AxCrypt no longer worked and I complained!

Since I was on AxCrypt’s email list, I got a message a month or so ago, that AxCrypt now supported windows 7 and 64 bit. To say the least, I was relieved because I have tried many encryption programs for the past year, and none of them held a candle to AxCrypt.

My needs were simple – I wanted a program that ran as an .exe that would bring up a password window, open, and when I closed the file, would re-encrypt – AxCrypt does exactly that.

AxCrypt also integrates nicely into the right click context menu in Windows Explorer, so encrypting new files or folders, is a very fast process.

So, if you have files or folders that you need to protect, look no further than AxCrypt! It supports XP, Win7 32 and 64 bit operating systems.

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Fast facts:

Right-click integration with Windows Explorer makes AxCrypt the easiest way to encrypt individual files in Windows.

Double-click integration makes it as easy to open, edit and save encrypted files as it is to work with unencrypted files.

Many additional features, but no configuration required, just install it and use it.

AxCrypt encrypts files that are safely and easily sent to other users via e-mail or any other means. Self-decrypting files are also supported, removing the need to install AxCrypt to decrypt.

Available languages: English, Danish, Swedish, German, Dutch, Hungarian, Spanish, French, Italian and Norwegian.

System requirements: Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/2008/7 (32 and 64 bit).

Download at: Developer’s site (Skip Navigation LinksAxantum Software AB)

Guest Writer: This is a guest post by Glenn Taggart of The Crazy World of G, who brings a background as a high level super user, to the Blogging world.

Drop by Glenn’s freeware page.

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, Encryption Software, Freeware, Guest Writers, Software, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Download Free USB Safeguard – Simple USB Data Encryption

USB Stick 2 Since USB 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 (I’ve personally lost two – both encrypted), or stolen.

If you should lose a USB drive, through happenstance or theft, you need to be sure that any confidential information on the drive cannot be read, and the way to do that is to encrypt your data.

If you’re unfamiliar with data encryption; simply put, it is a process by which bits of data are mathematically jumbled with a password-key. The process makes the data unreadable unless, or until, decrypted by you.

Here’s a very cool free encryption application, USB Safeguard, which will encrypt your USB data in an easy, follow the bouncing ball manner – you can’t get much easier than “Drag and Drop”. Simply download this free application and run it from your USB drive.

The following screen captures illustrate just how easy encryption can be using USB Safeguard. Clicking on any graphic will open a new window to display the graphic in 640x – format.

Launch the application on your USB drive and construct a password.

USB Safeguard 1

You will be queried as to whether you want to save your password on your Home PC.

USB Safeguard 2

Drag and Drop the files on the USB Drive you want to encrypt into the applications interface window. The free application restricts encryption to a maximum of 2 GB.

USB Safeguard 3

Following successful encryption you will have the option of further protecting your files (in the event of loss), by overwriting or deleting the encrypted files. I particularly like this feature, since it adds another layer of security.

USB Safeguard 4

USB Safeguard 5

Decrypting the files is every bit as easy. Simply launch the application (remember, the application is on the USB drive), enter you’re password and voila!

USB Safeguard 7

Fast facts:

Runs with any usb pen drive

No installation required

256-bit AES encryption

Easy drag & drop file adding

Built in file shredder

Secure your data if drive is lost

Supports FAT16, FAT32 and NTFS file system

Without a doubt, this is encryption taken to a new level of simplicity. Ideal for average users, who have little interest in dealing with the finer points of encrypting data.

System requirements: Windows XP/Vista/Seven

Download at: Developer’s Site (USB Safeguard Software)

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

Download Drag ‘n Crypt ULTRA – Easy File Encryption

Popular guest writer Rick Robinette, has a knack for finding great free applications – applications that make your computer experience smoother, safer and more interesting. See what Rick has to say about his most recent find – Drag ‘n Crypt ULTRA.

image There are numerous file (and folder) encryption programs that are available to protect sensitive files on your computer; however, most people do not understand their purpose.

If you are carrying files around on a flash drive that are potentially sensitive in nature, OR maintaining sensitive files on a PC that is accessible by many people, OR storing sensitive files on the internet;  then it is important to protect the content of those files from prying eyes.

One way of doing that is through file encryption. Encryption software is designed to make your files unreadable (or accessible) to other people.  The encryption process usually prompts you to create a key (or password) prior to the software making the file(s) unreadable. As a result, in order to  make the file readable again (through a process called decryption) you must enter the password that you originally provided.

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One of my favorite encryption programs, that is FREE, small in file size (< 200 KB), and is portable;  is Drag ‘n Crypt ULTRA.  The “cool factor” to this program is that when you launch the program, a small target (or drop zone) appears on your desktop (see below).

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To encrypt a file (or folder), you simply drag the file (or folder) to the target (or drop zone) and drop it.  Drag ‘n Crypt Ultra will go to work automatically, prompt you for a password, and then create the encrypted file. As an added level of security, the source file is erased to prevent someone from restoring the file using data recovery software (which is especially easy on a flash drive).

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To decrypt the file you simply drag the file you originally encrypted to the target (or drop zone), enter your password, and the file will be restored to its’ original condition.

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If you right mouse click on the target (or drop zone), you also have the following options:

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My two favorite options are “create file association” and “Use Context Menu”.  With the “file association” option activated you can open your encrypted files by simply mouse clicking on the file(s) and if you have the “context menu” option activated you can perform your file encryption operations through the Windows Explorer context menu, which is typically activated by a right mouse click on a file (or folder).

Overall, Drag ‘n Crypt is fast, offers decent protection ( Twofish coding algorithm) and does not require installation (can be carried and used on your flash drive). I especially use this program to protect files on my flash drive and to protect files that I store online.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7  (32-Bit)

Download at: Developer’s site

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

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, flash drive, Freeware, Portable Applications, Privacy, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Two Free Apps to Encrypt Your USB Drive

encryption 1You can call it a Flash Drive, a USB Key, a USB drive, a Keychain drive, or a USB stick. Whatever you call it, you are referring to a small plastic case which contains a circuit board and a USB connector.

Instead of the now obsolete floppy disk (new machines generally don’t have a floppy drive), USB flash drives have become the standard for transporting applications, personal files, documents, pictures, videos, music and so on.

Since USB 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 (I’ve personally lost two), or stolen.

If you should lose a USB drive, through happenstance or theft, you need to be sure that any confidential information on the drive cannot be read, and the way to do that is to encrypt your data.

Here are a number of free encryption applications that will encrypt your data, and are suitable for a USB flash drive.

EncryptOnClick

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EncryptOnClick is a free program that lets you securely encrypt and decrypt files. The program is very simple to use, and features military grade 256-bit AES encryption.

After you have launched the application, simply select the target file/folder you want to encrypt.

Following the easy interface, type a password for that file/folder which will then be encrypted. To open the encrypted file/folder at a later date, you must type the correct password.

Fast facts:

A very secure encryption and decryption method is used (256-bit AES encryption)

Files are both compressed & encrypted, which results in a smaller file

Password protected

Will encrypt single files or all files in a folder

Very simple to use interface

Can be used on a USB key

Fully Unicode enabled so filenames in any language can be encrypted

Will encrypt, decrypt, compress, and uncompress files which can also be opened and decrypted using third party programs like WinZip 9 – provided the correct password is used

Will detect if you’re decrypting a file that is in a temporary folder, and if so, will prompt you to see if you would like to decrypt it into a different folder

Command line parameters can be used

Complete help file

Free technical support, online forums, knowledge base, and FAQs at 2BrightSparks

Tip: Use on a USB key by copying the files EncryptOnClick.exe, EncryptOnClick.exe manifest, ExceedZip.dll to a named folder on the USB key.

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/2003/Vista (64 bit)

Download at: SnapFiles

TrueCrypt

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TrueCrypt (updated November 23, 2009), is an outstanding free open source software system, (one I have using for the last several years) for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volume.

On-the-fly encryption simply means that data are automatically encrypted or decrypted just before they are loaded or saved, without any user intervention. No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password/correct encryption keys.

TrueCrypt uses 11 algorithms for encrypting private files in a password-protected volume. You can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or 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.

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

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

Download at: TrueCrypt

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Filed under downloads, Encryption, Encryption Software, flash drive, Freeware, Privacy, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Guard Your Sensitive Files With My Lockbox Freeware

image Rick Robinette at What’s On My PC, recently wrote a couple of intriguing articles on some esoteric ways cyber-criminals can gain access to the confidential information many of us keep on our computers.

If you think your confidential files are cyber-criminal proof, because you consider yourself an astute and savvy Internet user, and your machine is protected by the latest and greatest AV products – take a look at Atypical Ways of How Your Data Can Be Stolen, and Are Wireless Keyboards Secure?, on Rick’s site. You might be in for a surprise.

Reading these two articles has prompted me to republish the following article on how we can take advantage of the freeware program My Lockbox, to keep confidential files hidden from view.

You might wonder why you would need to conceal files on your computer in the first place; after all you have nothing to hide, right? Well if you’re like the rest of us, it’s almost certain that you do have something to hide.

At a minimum, it would be sensible to conceal files that contain financial data and other confidential information, that can easily be subject to intrusive viewing by others not authorized to do so.

Files that contain financial data and other confidential information continue to be targeted by hackers/information thieves, for the purpose of identity theft. The reality is; there is no such thing as a totally secured internet connected computer; all internet connected computers are subject to attack. Masking these files then, seems like a sensible precaution.

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Confidentially of course, may not be the only reason you may have to conceal files. On a shared computer for example, it may be prudent to conceal particular files to ensure that they are not subject to accidental erasure. In fact, you may have lots of personal reasons to mask special files on your machine.

My Lockbox is a freeware software application that allows you to conceal files, and then password protect those files on your computer. Other users will not have access to these files, nor will they be able to accidentally, or otherwise, view them or manipulate them in any way.

The protected folder (lockbox) is hidden from all other users and applications on your computer; including the Administrator and the System. The lockbox (protected folder), is impossible to access not only from the local computer, but also from the Internet.

Following the on-screen instructions makes this program extremely easy to setup and use. The lockbox location, password, and parameters are configured during the easy setup procedure.

After the setup is completed, the lockbox will be hidden and locked until you, as the user, enter the valid password. My Lockbox Control Panel allows you easily change basic lockbox parameters: lockbox location, protection status, and password.

The program is effective, easy to use and best of all – it’s free.

Quick facts:

Very easy to use

Almost any folder on your computer can be password protected

Instant protection – no file scrambling

Lockbox folder is inaccessible even by the system administrators

Lockbox folder is inaccessible both locally and remotely

Lockbox folder can be protected in Windows safe mode

Hotkeys support – you can popup the Control Panel with a keystroke

Skinned user interface

Freeware

System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP, 2003 Server, Vista

Download at: Download.com.

Elsewhere in this Blog there is a review, and file download, for a similar type of program that encrypts, as well as conceals your files. The following is part of the review for this open source free program… “T r u e C r y p t is a free open-source disk encryption program for Windows and Linux, which creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk. The program automatically and transparently encrypts in real time”.

Go here for the full review of T r u e C r y p t and the file download.

If you enjoyed this article, 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 Anti-Malware Tools, Don't Get Hacked, Encryption Software, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Privacy, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows XP

Three Free Apps to Encrypt, Decrypt Your Data

encryption 1

Financial data and other privileged information on a computer can easily be subject to intrusive viewing by those not authorized to do so.

Not many of us, it seems, bother to lock our computers while we’re temporarily away from the machine, creating a perfect opportunity for others to peek at our most sensitive and confidential files.

Quick tip: Press the Windows Key + L which, in Windows XP or Windows Vista, will lock your computer by displaying the Profile screen. When you click on your icon and type your password, you again have access to the PC.

Of course, it is 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.

To reduce or eliminate the security threat to your sensitive data, the most prudent course for you to follow is to encrypt your data. If you’re unfamiliar with data encryption; simply put, it is a process by which bits of data are mathematically jumbled with a password-key. The process makes the data unreadable unless, or until, decrypted by you.

The following are well tested, free encryption applications, that will encrypt your data and are suitable for a USB flash drive.

EncryptOnClick

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EncryptOnClick is a free program that lets you securely encrypt and decrypt files. The program is very simple to use, and features military grade 256-bit AES encryption.

After you have launched the application, simply select the target file/folder you want to encrypt.

Following the easy interface, type a password for that file/folder which will then be encrypted. To open the encrypted file/folder at a later date, you must type the correct password.

Quick facts:

A very secure encryption and decryption method is used (256-bit AES encryption)

Files are both compressed & encrypted, which results in a smaller file

Password protected

Will encrypt single files or all files in a folder

Very simple to use interface

Can be used on a USB key

Fully Unicode enabled so filenames in any language can be encrypted

Will encrypt, decrypt, compress, and uncompress files which can also be opened and decrypted using third party programs like WinZip 9 – provided the correct password is used

Will detect if you’re decrypting a file that is in a temporary folder, and if so, will prompt you to see if you would like to decrypt it into a different folder

Command line parameters can be used

Complete help file

Free technical support, online forums, knowledge base, and FAQs at 2BrightSparks

Tip: Use on a USB key by copying the files EncryptOnClick.exe, EncryptOnClick.exe manifest, ExceedZip.dll to a named folder on the USB key.

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP

Download at: Download.com

TrueCrypt

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TrueCrypt is an outstanding free open source software system, (one I have using for the last several years) for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volume.

On-the-fly encryption simply means that data are automatically encrypted or decrypted just before they are loaded or saved, without any user intervention. No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password/correct encryption keys.

TrueCrypt uses 11 algorithms for encrypting private files in a password-protected volume. You can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or 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.

Quick 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

System Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista

Download at: Download.com

My Lockbox

image

My Lockbox is a freeware software application that allows you to do just that, and then password protect those files on your computer.

Other users will not have access to these files, nor will they be able to accidentally, or otherwise, view them or manipulate them in any way.

The protected folder (lockbox) is hidden from all other users and applications on your computer; including the Administrator and the System. The lockbox (protected folder), is impossible to access not only from the local computer, but also from the Internet.

Following the on-screen instructions makes this program extremely easy to setup and use. The lockbox location, password, and parameters are configured during the easy setup procedure.

After the setup is completed, the lockbox will be hidden and locked until you, as the user, enter the valid password. My Lockbox Control Panel allows you easily change basic lockbox parameters: lockbox location, protection status, and password.

The program is effective, easy to use and best of all – it’s free.

Quick facts:

Very easy to use

Almost any folder on your computer can be password protected

Instant protection – no file scrambling

Lockbox folder is inaccessible even by the system administrators

Lockbox folder is inaccessible both locally and remotely

Lockbox folder can be protected in Windows safe mode

Hotkeys support – you can popup the Control Panel with a keystroke

Skinned user interface

Freeware

System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP, 2003 Server, Vista

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Don't Get Hacked, Encryption, Encryption Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Privacy, Software, System Security, USB, Windows Tips and Tools