Tag Archives: decrypt

Beat Obama’s Bandits With TrueCrypt Free (Open-Source) Encryption

The so called “War on Terror” has long since lost its luster and should be appropriately reclassified as The War of Terror. The U.S. has been singularly impudent in terrorizing the terrorists but instead, it has managed to terrorize the rest of the world using a system of surveillance schemes that have gone off the board. Chalk one up for Al Qaeda – the only winners in this debacle.

In the meantime, Americans continue to live in fear – trading away freedoms for security in a war that is simple unwinnable. Obama, despite his assurances that he would “fight terrorism while maintaining our civil liberties” has been a principle mover in this assault on democracy.

And, the master of the reversal has more –

Obama, in a 2008 election sound bite, drew a sharp contrast with the Bush administration which he proclaimed, offered Americans “a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.” And for good measure – for stooping “to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.” It’s a surreal world we live in, is it not?

But why be satisfied with my ramblings? Here’s the video.

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As America continues its slide into Fascism (eagerly joined in the venture by Canada, Australia, the U.K. and countless other self-advertised “democracies”), the justified expectation held by these governments is – you – yes, you – will take no active part in expressing your outrage at the escalating intrusions into your private life. Sadly, the undermining of democracy, or more to the point, democracy as we though we knew it, continues apace.

As a consequence (hardly the only consequence, of course), encryption technology is once again in the spotlight. And no, using encryption does not mean that one has something to hide.

Sophisticated 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.

Putting Obama and his bad boys aside, here are 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.

It happens to us all: Just this past week, I lost not only my house keys (first time ever) – but the USB key attached to the keychain. If you guessed that the drive was encrypted – take a bow.   Smile

TrueCrypt:

TrueCrypt is an outstanding free open source software application 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. The program automatically and transparently encrypts in real time.

No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without the correct password/key file or correct encryption keys. The entire file system is encrypted (i.e., file names, folder names, contents, free space, Meta data, etc.).

Files can be copied to and from a mounted TrueCrypt volume just like they are copied to/from any normal disk (for example, by simple drag-and-drop operations). When you turn off your computer, the volume will be dismounted and files stored in the volume will be inaccessible and encrypted. You may of course, manually dismount the volume.

TrueCrypt offers a number of options – you can store your encrypted data in files, partitions, or on a portable storage device such as a USB flash drive.

Installation is simple and straightforward – no gotchas here. Lots of steps – but easy steps.

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If you choose “Keyfiles”, be sure you understand the ramifications. This is an extra security step which has limited application for a home user. You do not need to select this option.

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And – Win 8’s File Explorer reports that the volume has been setup successfully. If you expand the graphic below (click), you’ll also notice my first TrueCrypt volume on this HD from May 9, 2006.

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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)

I’ve 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: Win 8, Win 7, Vista, XP, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Download at: TrueCrypt

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Filed under downloads, Encryption Software, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Open Source, Software, Utilities

Take That Extra Step To Protect Your Sensitive Data With Free AxCrypt Encryption

imageSophisticated and  aware computer users know, that financial data and other confidential information stored on a computer, 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.

AxCrypt, a free (open source) encryption application which I have reviewed here previously, takes a different approach than many other encryption applications inasmuch as it is not a stand alone executable application – instead, it’s fully integrated into Windows Explorer and is invoked from there. Integration into Windows Explorer makes it an ideal encryption application for less experienced Windows users.

As the following series of screen captures clearly show, AxCrypt integrates seamlessly into Windows Explorer’s context (right click) menu.

Right clicking on the selected file/folder in Windows Explorer, followed by selecting “AxCrypt – Encrypt”, begins the process of encryption.

Click on any graphic to expand to original size.

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The next step requires the user to enter a protective password.

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In the following graphic (following successful encryption) you’ll notice the green AxCrypt icon, indicating that encryption is now in force.

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The decryption process is ever bit as simple –it’s virtually a mirror image of the encryption process.

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The following graphic illustrates the decryption password box.

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In the following graphic you’ll notice the green AxCrypt icon no longer shows – indicating that decryption has been successful.

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Bonus: Built in file Shredder illustrated.

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Fast facts:

Password Protect any number of files using strong encryption.

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 protected files as it is to work with unprotected 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, Win 7 (32 and 64 bit system support).

Download at: Developer’s site (Axantum Software AB).

It’s not always possible to cover all the features and benefits of an application in a short review article – additional information is available at the developer’s FAQ 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 64 Bit Software, downloads, Encryption Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Integrated Solutions, Open Source, Privacy, Software, System Security, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Free AxCrypt – Encrypt, Compress, Decrypt in Windows Explorer

imageI was introduced to AxCrypt by my good buddy Glenn Taggart, just over a year ago, and while I don’t currently use this application (I’m a diehard TrueCrypt fan), that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a sweet encryption application – and free, as well.

AxCrypt takes a different approach than many other encryption applications  inasmuch as it is not a stand alone executable application – instead, it’s fully integrated into Windows Explorer and is invoked from there. Integration into Windows Explorer makes it an ideal encryption application for less experienced Windows users.

As the following series of screen captures clearly show, AxCrypt integrates seamlessly into Windows Explorer’s context (right click) menu.

Right clicking on the selected file/folder in Windows Explorer, followed by selecting “AxCrypt – Encrypt”, begins the process of encryption.

Click on any graphic to expand to original size.

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The next step requires the user to enter a protective password.

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In the following graphic (following successful encryption) you’ll notice the green AxCrypt icon, indicating that encryption is now in force.

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The decryption process is ever bit as simple –it’s virtually a mirror image of the encryption process.

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The following graphic illustrates the decryption password box.

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In the following graphic you’ll notice the green AxCrypt icon no longer shows – indicating that decryption has been successful.

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Bonus: Built in file Shredder illustrated.

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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, Win 7 (32 and 64 bit system support).

Download at: Developer’s site (Axantum Software AB).

It’s not always possible to cover all the features and benefits of an application in a short review article – additional information is available at the developer’s FAQ 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.

5 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Encryption, Encryption Software, Freeware, New Computer User Software Tools, Open Source, Software, 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

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 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

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

The article I posted a few days ago – Free Secret Disk – Keep Your Secret Computer Files “Secret”, led to a more than a few reader questions on additional free encryption applications.

So, I’ve retested the updated versions of a number of free encryption applications I’ve recommended in the past few years, and I’ll post on these in the coming days – starting today with EncryptOnClick

EncryptOnClick ( last updated March 08, 2011), is a free program that lets you securely encrypt and decrypt files/folders. 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.

In the following example I’ve chosen to encrypt a folder by clicking on the Folder button…

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which prompted me to browse and select the target folder.

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The application took approximately one minute to encrypt this 220 MB folder and its sub folders.

In the following graphic you can see that the file I’ve highlighted, within the encrypted folder, can only be accessed through EncryptOnClick.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

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Decrypting the selected folder is just as simple and straightforward.

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In the following graphic  you can see that the file I’ve highlighted within the folder (following  decrypting), can now be accessed normally.

Click on graphic to expand to original size.

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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

Tip: Run on a Flash Drive by copying the files EncryptOnClick.exe, EncryptOnClick.exe manifest, ExceedZip.dll to a named folder on the Flash Drive.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 and NT.

Download at: Download.com

Tomorrow: Free Encrypt Stick reviewed.

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 Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Encryption, Encryption Software, Freeware, Privacy, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

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

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 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

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)

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, Privacy, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP