Category Archives: Surveilance Tools

Conseal Security Takes Portable Device Security To Another Level With Conseal USB

“This tape will self-destruct in five seconds!” – Mission Impossible.

Growing up in the 1960’s, I though that was just the coolest phrase – and the underlying technology, of course. As a way of keeping confidential  information out of the hands of the bad guys, what could be better than that? BOOOM!

Today, safeguarding confidential information is far more complex – and there are many more “bad guys”. Information, in a very real sense, is currency – and the need to protect it is every bit as real as if it were hard currency.

Unfortunately, protecting critical data in an age of extreme data portability (USB sticks, portable Hard Drives, memory cards …. ) against theft, or loss, is exasperated by the very nature of portable technology.

How hard is it to lose a USB key through theft or misadventure – easy (personally, I’ve lost two over the years).

How hard is it to lose a portable Hard Drive through theft or misadventure – easy.

How hard is it to lose a memory card through theft or misadventure – easy.

How hard is it recover any one of the storages devices mentioned? Hard. Hard. Hard.

While it’s true, that both password and encryption applications, offer some protection against unauthorized access should a portable storage device vanish, neither provides absolute protection. Both password cracking, and decrypting applications (and the computing resources necessary), are readily available to those with less than honorable intentions.

What’s needed then, is a technology that not only offers password protection and file encryption, but the ability to remotely destroy data on a non-recoverable device – if it becomes necessary.

I suspect that the Ministry of Defense in the UK, would have been delighted with this type of technology had it been available when, in 2008,  fifty eight Ministry of Defense unencrypted drives – which contained details of troop movements, locations, and travel accommodation, were “lost”.

Certainly, portable media device theft, or loss, is not restricted to organizations; it can just as easily happen at an individual level. For example, in the U.K., in 2008, – 9,000 USB drives were found by dry cleaners in various articles of clothing. It’s safe to say, that data loss and data leakages related to lost or stolen computer portable devices, are now commonplace.

Luckily, Conseal Security has just released a security safety system  that not only includes strong AES encryption, it allows protected devices to be remotely self-destructed, if they are lost or stolen. Moreover, as part of the package the ability to lock devices to specific networks, domains or specific computers, is included. A bonus feature includes a capacity to review all access attempts on a device.

Application setup, including creating an account which provides access to all of the programs features, is straightforward.

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The initial account password will be emailed to you. The temporary account password in the screen capture shown below, has been changed.

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Once logged in, you can proceed to manage the portable device attached to your machine.

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In the following screen shot, you’ll notice I have logged in and entered a name for the attached device.

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The USB drive I used for this test was quite small (512 MB), so the encryption and registration took less than two minutes.

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As per the message box, no files were accessible on Drive F: (the original drive designation) – instead the files were on Drive G: (the newly concealed drive).

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Following encryption of the drive’s contents you will have a number of options to choose from, including –

Access Control

You can set up rules to control where and when this device can be unlocked.

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Alerting

You can set up alerts to email you when this device is used.

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Self Destruct

You can securely delete the contents of this device if it has been lost or stolen. It will become a blank disk.

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Unlocking the portable device is an uncomplicated process – as shown in the following screen captures.

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A taskbar popup will notify you on successful completion of the “unlock” process, as illustrated in this screen capture.

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Fast facts:

Remote self destruct – If your Consealed device is lost or stolen, you can remotely destroy the data it contains. Press a button on a website and the contents of your device will be securely wiped when next inserted.

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Who’s accessed your data? – View a log of who attempts to unlocks your Consealed device, including who they are and what computer they used. The log shows all access attempts and contains sufficient information for law enforcement officials to uniquely identify the computer used.

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Define who can access your data – Specify the computers or network domains which can unlock your Consealed device. Also specify what times of the day it can be unlocked. Rules can be changed even when the device is out of your hands.

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Safe from password guessing attempts – Even fairly complex passwords can be guessed on average within 16 minutes. Conseal’s “Dual Locks” system completely secures your protected data against password guessing attempts. Consealed devices can only be unlocked with permission from a central server.

Warnings of attempted break-ins – Receive email warnings when someone tries to unlock your Consealed device, directly and uniquely identifying the user, where they are, and what computer they used.

Strong encryption – Your data is stored using super-strength 256-bit AES encryption (approved by governments to protect ‘Top Secret’ information).

Takeaway: A very impressive and elegant solution to a potentially disastrous occurrence at a cost that’s appropriate.

Conseal USB Licenses:

Home User – 1 year’s protection. Non-commercial use only. Up to 5 devices £19.95.

Corporate User – 10 devices £140 (for 1 year). 100 devices £99/month. 1000 devices £830/month. 10,000 devices £5950/month.

Conseal Security offers a full no-quibble 14 day money-back guarantee from date of purchase.

System requirements: Windows XP and above.

Devices: You can Conseal literally any USB storage device. This includes memory sticks, USB pen drives, external hard disks, SD / MMC / xD / CompactFlash cards. It also includes all Firewire, eSATA and USB3 devices. Conseal is completely device and manufacturer independent.

Further details, and a 15 day Trial download are available at the developer’s site – Conseal Security.

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Filed under Business Applications, Cloud Computing, Computer Tools, Connected Devices, Cyber Crime, Cyber Criminals, downloads, Encryption, Encryption Software, flash drive, Geek Software and Tools, Software, Software Trial Versions, Surveilance Tools, USB, Windows Tips and Tools

iSpy Open Source Webcam Security, Surveillance, And Monitoring Software

imageIf you’re looking for a free (Open Source), Web Cam surveillance solution that includes a ton of built-in features, then iSpy may be just what you’ve been searching for.

iSpy, last updated December 28, 2010, is an open source application which uses your webcams and microphones to detect and record movement, or sound.

iSpy provides a number of additional benefits over the two more basic free Web Cam surveillance applications described later in this review, including:

Access to captured media over the Web, and to mobile devices – as well as the local network.

iSpy can be setup to run on multiple computers simultaneously, and has full Email and SMS alerting capabilities.

While I found setting up iSpy relatively easy, it was slightly more complex than the two free applications described later. On the other hand, additional features often lead to more complexity.

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As the following screen captures indicate, you’ll be presented with a smorgasbord of fine tuning choices.

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As the following screen capture indicates, you can access captures over your local network (local machine), which may be all you need.

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Alternatively, you have the option of setting up an account, which will allow access to captured content over the Internet.

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Fast facts:

Access and control your cameras and microphones using your mobile device (iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7)

Connect and monitor as many cameras and microphones as you like. Import and export object lists to share with colleagues.

Connect multiple computers in a group and manage over the web

Install iSpy Server and publish your webcam to other instances of iSpy, over your network and to the web

Detect, highlight, track and record movement

Record video and audio on demand (and via the web)

Detect and record sound

FTP frames from your camera to a remote server

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is detected

Run any program or send an email or SMS alert when movement or sound is not detected (monitor machinery or staff activity)

Receive email movement alerts with attached frame grab images from your webcams

Periodically receive image grabs via email from your webcams

Connect to any device, even webcams attached to other computers with JPEG, MJPEG, IP Cam, webcam and AVI file support

Watch live and recorded media over the web (through this website and over your local network) and also via mobile devices

Access and control iSpy remotely

Schedule sound and video capturing to start and stop automatically

Time-lapse record from any camera

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7. Microsoft .Net framework will be installed if required. Windows media player 9 VCM codecs – will be installed if required.

Download at: Download.com

Two additional free Web Cam surveillance solutions, previously reviewed here:

Secure Cam:

Setting up Secure Cam is a breeze since the interface is minimal. Simply launch the application, and from the main menu select your device, select the device format and then initialize the device.

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You will then need to set the application options – click on the image in the Secure Cam window to bring up the options dialog box. Choose your options and you’re good to go.

SecureCam 5

I’ve tested this application extensively and overall, I’ve been very pleased with its performance.

Fast facts:

Automatically captures images when motion is detected

Adjustable motion detection trigger level

Supports up to 99 cameras

DVR card capable

Multiplexing capable

Capture Images when motion is detected, or continuous

Image sensitivity adjustment

Image Archiving (1,000s of images)

Dynamically expanding and contracting archive

Archive images from minutes, to years

Application viewer for image playback

Image playback at various speeds

Low processor and memory usage

Adjustable Jpeg Quality

Text Overlay

Timestamps

Image Rotating, & Flipping

If you’re looking for a free (Open Source), Web Cam surveillance solution, Secure Cam may be just what you have been searching for. In fact, this is the application I settled on.

System requirements: Windows (all), DirectX 9 or greater, 600Mhz Pentium 3 with 128MB Memory, Web Cam or DVR PCI card

Download at: Source Forge

Rise Sun:

Rise Sun is another free web cam surveillance application I looked at that’s perhaps not quite as feature rich as Secure Cam. But, if you don’t need all of these features, (some of the bells and whistles are just that – bells and whistles), this application is a very acceptable alternative that will meet your basic  surveillance needs.

Rise Sun 3

(No, I don’t really have green dots on my face – this is the motion detector in action).

Installation is straightforward and the interface is simple – no esoteric manual to digest here. New users should not encounter any difficulty getting this application to perform as advertised.

Fast facts:

Works on all webcam models available on the market.

Powerful motion detection algorithm that allows flexible adjustments to suit your needs.

Extended Period Algorithm (For Extra Precision)

Automatically take pictures, logs events or display silent warnings when motion is detected.

Silent Alarm, Alarm, Motion Logging System

Extended Threshold, Sensibility and Performance Variables

Automatic Snapshot (JPG Compression to reduce file size.

While I haven’t run this application for very long, it’s a very capable application. It does what it’s designed to do, and turns your webcam into a fully functioning motion detection video surveillance system.

System requirements: Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, XP, Vista, and Win 7.

Download at: Download.com

Note: If you’re a Linux user you haven’t been left out in the cold. Checkout – Motion, a software motion detector, here. Since I now run Ubuntu more than half the time, this application is on my testing to-do list.

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Filed under Connected Devices, downloads, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, Open Source, Software, Surveilance Tools, Surveillance, Video, Video Apps, Web Cam Applications, Windows Tips and Tools

Two Free Web Cam Surveillance Solutions – Secure Cam and Rise Sun

image Yesterday’s article on Luxand’s Blink, free facial recognition login software, was a bit of a hit – lots of reads, and lots of application downloads. So, I’ll take that as a sign of overall interest in free web cam applications.

Here are a couple of specialty web cam applications, that will turn your webcam into a security system of a sort.

In the last year I’ve done just that, since, in my neighborhood, the only form of crime where we have seen an appreciable increase is Burglary. From a personal perspective I’m concerned with this increase – electronic equipment seems to be a favorite target during a break and enter.

Being a Techno geek, I suspect I have far more electronic equipment, and toys, than the average person, and this increases my risk of loss. So, I have increased my perimeter security, windows, doors, and so on, very substantially. To supplement this increase in physical security, I have added a number of Web Cams strategically located both inside, and out.

Since I’m conservative in my spending habits (I’m cheap!), I searched for and found, a more than adequate software solution to my next question – how do I drive these cameras?

I took a close look at two of the free Windows software applications available for download, and tested them thoroughly, to ensure that either one would meet my needs. If you’re a Linux user, see the note at the end of this article.

Don’t be spooked by my harsh 6 AM Monday morning mug shots – definitely not my best time of day.  🙂

Secure Cam:

Setting up Secure Cam is a breeze since the interface is minimal. Simply launch the application, and from the main menu select your device, select the device format and then initialize the device.

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You will then need to set the application options – click on the image in the Secure Cam window to bring up the options dialog box. Choose your options and you’re good to go.

SecureCam 5

I’ve tested this application extensively and overall, I’ve been very pleased with its performance.

Fast facts:

Automatically captures images when motion is detected

Adjustable motion detection trigger level

Supports up to 99 cameras

DVR card capable

Multiplexing capable

Capture Images when motion is detected, or continuous

Image sensitivity adjustment

Image Archiving (1,000s of images)

Dynamically expanding and contracting archive

Archive images from minutes, to years

Application viewer for image playback

Image playback at various speeds

Low processor and memory usage

Adjustable Jpeg Quality

Text Overlay

Timestamps

Image Rotating, & Flipping

If you’re looking for a free (Open Source), Web Cam surveillance solution, Secure Cam may be just what you have been searching for. In fact, this is the application I settled on.

System requirements: Windows (all), DirectX 9 or greater, 600Mhz Pentium 3 with 128MB Memory, Web Cam or DVR PCI card

Download at: Source Forge

Rise Sun

Rise Sun is another free web cam surveillance application I looked at that’s perhaps not quite as feature rich as Secure Cam. But, if you don’t need all of these features, (some of the bells and whistles are just that – bells and whistles), this application is a very acceptable alternative that will meet your basic  surveillance needs.

Rise Sun 3

(No, I don’t really have green dots on my face – this is the motion detector in action).

Installation is straightforward and the interface is simple – no esoteric manual to digest here. New users should not encounter any difficulty getting this application to perform as advertised.

Fast facts:

Works on all webcam models available on the market.

Powerful motion detection algorithm that allows flexible adjustments to suit your needs.

Extended Period Algorithm (For Extra Precision)

Automatically take pictures, logs events or display silent warnings when motion is detected.

Silent Alarm, Alarm, Motion Logging System

Extended Threshold, Sensibility and Performance Variables

Automatic Snapshot (JPG Compression to reduce file size.

While I haven’t run this application for very long, other than for testing purposes, it’s a very capable application. It does what it’s designed to do, and turns your webcam into a fully functioning motion detection video surveillance system.

System requirements: Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, XP, Vista, and Win 7.

Download at: Download.com

Note: If you’re a Linux user you haven’t been left out in the cold. Checkout – Motion, a software motion detector, here. Since I now run Ubuntu more than half the time, this application is on my testing to-do list.

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, Free Surveillance Applications, Freeware, Linux, Open Source, Software, Surveilance Tools, Surveillance, Web Cam Applications, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Secure Cam Motion Detection Surveillance Software – Free

image We live in a hyper surveillance society. Walk down the street, visit your favorite shopping mall, drop in at your local convenience store, or withdraw cash from an ATM machine and (smile), you’re on camera.

The theory behind all this surveillance is crime control on the one hand, and as an aid in apprehending the perpetrators of crime, on the other hand. Despite the fact that I’m very leery of surveillance technology, I must admit, I can’t find fault with the legitimate use of surveillance technology to reduce, or prevent crime.

In my neighborhood, the only form of crime where we have seen an appreciable increase is Burglary. Apparently, this increase in Burglary is being driven by those addicted to drugs, since a successful break and enter provides the funds needed to feed the habit.

From a personal perspective I’m concerned with this increase – since electronic equipment seems to be a favorite target during a break and enter. Being a Techno geek, I suspect I have far more electronic equipment, and toys, than the average person, and this increases my risk of loss.

Given this higher than average risk factor, in the last year or so, I have increased my perimeter security, windows, doors, and so on, very substantially. To supplement this increase in physical security, I have added a number of Web Cams strategically located both inside, and out.

Since I’m conservative in my spending habits (I’m cheap!), I searched for and found, a more than adequate software solution to my next question – how do I drive these cameras? The software question was easily solved by Secure Cam an open source application that met all my needs.

SecureCam 2

The hardware solution was just as easy, since I had an old Pentium 4 (1.6 GHz, 60 GB HD, 384 Mb Ram, etc.), which has proven to be ideal for this purpose – driving the cameras and saving the captured images to the Hard Drive.

In case you’re wondering, this machine is well concealed, and the cameras are only activated when my residence is not occupied.

SecureCam 4

Setting up Secure Cam is a breeze since the interface is minimal. Simply launch the application, and from the main menu select your device, select the device format and then initialize the device.

You will then need to set the application options – click on the image in the Secure Cam window to bring up the options dialog box. Choose your options and you’re good to go.

Fast facts:

Automatically captures images when motion is detected

Adjustable motion detection trigger level

Supports up to 99 cameras

DVR card capable

Multiplexing capable

Capture Images when motion is detected, or continuous

Image sensitivity adjustment

Image Archiving (1,000s of images)

Dynamically expanding and contracting archive

Archive images from minutes, to years

Application viewer for image playback

Image playback at various speeds

Low processor and memory usage

Adjustable Jpeg Quality

Text Overlay

Timestamps

Image Rotating, & Flipping

If you’re looking for a no cost Web Cam surveillance solution, Secure Cam may be just what you have been searching for.

System requirements: Windows (all), DirectX 9 or greater, 600Mhz Pentium 3 with 128MB Memory, Web Cam or DVR PCI card

Download at: SnapFiles

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, Living Life, Open Source, Software, Surveilance Tools, Surveillance, Windows Tips and Tools

LSO (Flash Cookies) – A Serious Attack on Your Privacy

image Crafty business learned long ago that names and the connotations that surround names are important. It just wouldn’t do, for example, to call a piece of computer spyware – “spyware”, or “tracker”, or “privacy invader”. Doing so would be sure to upset the unwitting victim.

So, instead of “tracker”, why not call the item a “cookie”? Good name, good connotations – happy memories of arriving home from school to a plate of cookies and a glass of milk.

Equally as important, from a business perspective, is the need to convince the victim that the questionable item has value, is constructive, and will make their Internet experience a smoother ride. But don’t believe it.

Cookies are there for the benefit of advertisers; not the web site visitor – plain and simple. Keep in mind, that it’s critically important to advertisers to generate advertising that is specific to the web site visitor at the time of the visit – not later, but right then. And cookies are the tool that facilitates this happening.

Luckily, today’s Internet browsers can be set to allow full user control over cookies including accepting, rejecting, or wiping private data which includes wiping cookies. That is, until recently.

It appears that a user’s decision to control cookies in this way is simply not acceptable to advertisers and certain web sites, and so we now have the Flash Cookie (LSO) – Local Shared Objects.

There is a major advantage for an advertiser to employ Flash cookies, not the least of which is; they are virtually unknown to the average user. Equally as important from an advertisers perspective is; they remain active on a system even after the user has cleared cookies and privacy settings. To call this a deceptive practice would be a major understatement. Crooked, immoral, fraudulent, illegal, are just some of the words that come to mind.

If you think this practice is restricted to shady web sites, you’d be wrong. Of the top 100 web sites, 50+ use Flash Cookies. One of the things I’ve learned in my years in technology is; crooks come in every size and shape. So, I was not particularly surprised when I found some of my favorite sites involved in this reprehensible practice.

Quick LSO facts:

Never expire

Can store up to 100 KB of information compared to a text cookie’s 4 KB.

Internet browsers are not aware of those cookies.

LSO’s usually cannot be removed by browsers.

Using Flash they can access and store highly specific personal and technical information (system, user name, files,…).

Can send the stored information to the appropriate server, without user’s permission.

Flash applications do not need to be visible.

There is no easy way to tell which flash-cookie sites are tracking you.

Shared folders allow cross-browser tracking – LSO’s work in every flash-enabled application

No user-friendly way to manage LSO’s, in fact it’s incredible cumbersome.

Many domains and tracking companies make extensive use of flash-cookies.

Without a doubt, you need to control these highly invasive objects, and if you are a Firefox user there is a solution – BetterPrivacy – a free Firefox add-on.

From the BetterPrivacy page:

“Better Privacy serves to protect against not deletable, long-term cookies, a new generation of ‘Super-Cookie’, which silently conquered the internet.

This new cookie generation offers unlimited user tracking to industry and market research. Concerning privacy Flash- and DOM Storage objects are most critical.

This add-on was made to make users aware of those hidden, never expiring objects and to offer an easy way to get rid of them – since browsers are unable to do that for you”.

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Download at: Mozilla

Simple HTTP cookies can be subject to attack by cyber criminals, so it won’t be long before flash cookies will be subject to the same manipulation. Better you should learn how to control them now – not later.

I have tried to write this article in a non-technical way, to make it easy for the average computer user to understand. For a more detailed breakdown on flash cookies, and the danger they represent to personal privacy, checkout The Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Update: September 23, 2009 – Professional Tech and regular guest writer, Dave Brooks, has found a solution for IE users at I am Super.

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Interconnectivity, Internet Paranoia, Internet Security Alerts, Online Safety, Privacy, Software, Surveilance Tools, Surveillance, Windows Tips and Tools