Archive for the ‘Linux Privacy & Security’ Category

Cross-platform tool to encrypt files

Friday, July 1st, 2011

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of JavaEncryptor

Everybody's got something they want to hide. Whether it's that photo of you with a lampshade on your head that you don't want the kids to see, or the business plan for your next killer startup, it's nice to be able to encrypt files to keep your stuff to yourself. So how do you plan to go about that?

JavaEncryptor is a tool that pretty much tells you everything you need to know in its name. It's a Java app, so it will run on Linux, Mac, Windows, or just about any other system that has a current Java runtime installed. And the "encryptor" part means that you will take your original source file and turn it into encrypted gobbledegook, making it impossible for any mere mortal to see what's in that file. It's got a simple interface—just click the Encrypt button—and you can browse to the file you want to work on, enter a password, and go. While it encrypts your file, it's also compressing it, a handy added bonus.

JavaEncryptor is a free download.

Download JavaEncryptor

App helps stolen laptops phone home

Friday, April 9th, 2010

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of Prey

It's the nightmare nobody wants to think about: somebody's taken your laptop. Sure, maybe it was just an accident, since many of them look the same. but nevertheless, whether through careless mistake or by deliberate theft by some low-life, you are here and your computer is somewhere else. With the cost of your system—to say nothing of all the important data that lives on it—on the line, you'd sure like to get it back, pronto.

Prey is a tool that just might give you a hand with that. Obviously you have to install it before your laptop goes missing—something about closing the barn door after the horse has already escaped—but it can then assist you in the recovery effort. The way it works is this: at a pre-determined interval, Prey checks for the existence of a specific URL. If it finds it, everything is just hunky-dory. But if the machine has gone missing, all you have to do is to get rid of the page at that address, and Prey will know that something's up. At that point, it will do things like report on where it is and what it's doing—and if you've got a webcam, you may even get a picture of the thief. It can use a wired connection, or search for a viable Wi-Fi signal, and for Mac and Linux systems, you can install the app as Root, so your thief doesn't even have to be logged in to let you know what's up.

Prey is available for Windows, Mac, and various Linux distros, or if you're really feeling adventurous, you can grab the source code and roll it yourself.

Download Prey

Keep track of passwords and more

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of LastPass

Everybody agrees that when it comes to passwords, bigger is better. After all, one of the best ways to frustrate a brute-force attack is to increase geometrically the number of combinations of characters that are necessary. Add to this all the other safeguards that are included in any robust password protection scheme—upper- and lower case alphabetic characters, numbers, and a few punctuation marks, no dictionary words, etc.—and you've gone a long way toward keeping your accounts secure. The flip side of that, of course, is the impossibility of remembering dozens of unique 40-character passwords for all of your financial- and other accounts.

LastPass is an online password manager. All you need to remember is your password to get into LastPass, and everything else can be as complicated—and safe—as you want. Along with passwords, it also remembers all that other fill-in-the-blank stuff you need to speed-up the process of entering your information into web forms: name, address, credit card numbers, the whole thing.

It's available as a desktop app for Windows, or as a plugin for your Windows, Mac, or Linux web browser.

Download LastPass

E-book helps you tighten security on Windows systems

Friday, February 20th, 2009

runs on Linuxruns on Macruns on Windows
screenshot of How to Secure Windows and Your Privacy E-book

Microsoft Windows is a handy place to live. It's widely available, everybody writes apps for it, and there is a lot of support available out there. That's all good. But there is a darker side to the O/S from Redmond as well.

Your system likes to keep track of where you've been, and what you've produced. Your Word and Excel documents can be traced back to you. Your web browsing history is no secret. Indeed, there are a whole host of possible security issues that come along with Windows. Maybe it's time to see what you can do to tighten up your security.

How to Secure Windows and Your Privacy is a free downloadable e-book. In simple and straightforward terms, the author explains what kinds of security threats you should guard against on your computer and small office/home office network. There are recommendations for no-cost online tools you can use, and free software you can install on your system that can help to tighten up the security of your system and make your computing safer.

How to Secure Windows and Your Privacy is a free download. You'll need to have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader (version 5 or later) to read the e-book.

Download How to Secure Windows and Your Privacy E-book

Keep track of passwords with Password Gorilla

Friday, October 10th, 2008

screenshot of Password Gorilla

Everything's got a password. Online bank accounts. Online mail accounts. Editing your blog. Logging in to your network at work. That's a lot of accounts, and that means a lot of passwords.

Now you can avoid having to remember a bunch of login information if you always use the same short passwords that are based on dictionary words or easily knowable personal facts about yourself, or if you always write them down on sticky notes and hang them on your monitor. Of course, with that approach, you can also forget about keeping your money, identity, work product, and everything else that those passwords are supposed to protect. If you really want to keep things safe, you should use long, complicated, impossible-to-remember passwords, and change them regularly. Good luck keeping track of all that.

Password Gorilla may be the tool you've been looking for. A cross platform app for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and more, it helps you to use passwords the way they were intended. Now instead of having to remember a whole brain-full of passwords, you can store account names, passwords, URLs, notes, and more in Password Gorilla's encrypted database. Now you only have to remember one password, and everything else is safe and sound behind it. If you're feeling particularly uninspired, it will help you generate serious passwords that nobody is likely to crack in this (or several more) lifetimes.

Password Gorilla is a free download.

Download Password Gorilla

Free personal antivirus software

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

screenshot of Avira AntiVir Personal

It's a rough world out there, and there are all kinds of folks who would like nothing better than for your computer to die a slow, lingering death, or to help themselves to your private data, or to use your machine to wreak havoc across the Internet. Whether it's a virus, worm, Trojan, or some other diabolical app, they're out to get you. The best line of defense is to have strong antivirus protection on your system.

You can spend a fortune on antivirus tools, but you don't have to. The folks at Avira offer one solution that costs nothing: Avira AntiVir Personal. Free for personal use, this application protects your system against viruses and more, including many rootkits, designed to take your system over for use in denial of service attacks, email spamming operations, and more.

Avira AntiVir Personal is a free download for use on a single computer. It runs under Windows 2000 and later, in both 32- and 64-bit versions, and is available for Linux and other UNIX-like systems as well.

Download Avira AntiVir Personal

Adeona theft recovery tool

Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

screenshot of Adeona

Could there be anything more horrible than the loss of your laptop computer? Well, yes, I suppose so, but it's certainly pretty high up on the list. Whether you misplaced your machine, or somebody decided to acquire it via "five finger discount", now you're here and your baby's somewhere else. If you'd like to be reunited, it would be a good idea to have installed Adeona on your machine before it goes missing.

Adeona, named after the Roman goddess of "safe returns", is a free, open source tool that lets you track your laptop or any other computer. Unlike proprietary solutions, you don't have to rely on a server somewhere keeping track of the whereabouts of your machine—meaning they could keep track of where you go, as well as where any potential thief may go with your system. Adeona "phones home" about every half hour, but not on an exact schedule, making it a little tricker to detect its use. It reports back a wealth of information about your missing computer: IP address, nearby routers, wireless hotspots currently in use. The Mac version can even use your built-in camera to snap a photo of the thief.

It's important to remember that while Adeona can help you locate your missing computer, and perhaps even implicate the thief, that you should then report this information to law enforcement or other appropriate authorities and not try to effect a recovery yourself.

A free download, Adeona is available for Linux, OS X (10.4+), and Windows (XP+) users.

Download Adeona

Free online password manager

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

screenshot of Passpack

A simple password is an ineffective password. A single password that you use for multiple purposes is a risky password. By the time you cover all the bases—complex, mixed upper- and lower case, alphanumeric and punctuation marks, no dictionary words—you've got a list of great passwords, but alas now you can't remember any of them. You need a "password locker" tool to keep track of them all. That's fine, as long as you always sit at the same desk with the same machine. What if you're out and about and need one of your passwords? Now you're in trouble. Enter Passpack.

Passpack is an online password manager tool. You can enter up to 100 entries for free, and they don't have to be just passwords. Save emergency info, travel info, confirmation numbers, all that sort of thing. The one thing they do ask is that you not store financial information here. Should everything go south, it's one thing if somebody can log into your blog; it's a totally different matter if they should log into your bank account and clean you out.

For most purposes, Passpack should give you plenty of security for your data. You always connect via secure HTTPS connections, and your data is super-encrypted as it sits on their servers. They've even got "disposable log-ins" for use on public computers. Pretty cool.

Passpack is a free service, and should be compatible with most modern web browsers.

Download Passpack

Secure password storage

Monday, May 19th, 2008

screenshot of Password Safe

How many passwords and logins do you have to keep track of? Work, home, banking, various online accounts—it's probably anywhere from several to dozens. If you're using reasonable passwords for these accounts—long, a mix of characters, no dictionary words, and different passwords for each account—then it's going to be just about impossible to remember them all. While a bunch of Post-Its stuck on your monitor may be the standard way to save a list like this, it's not really the preferred way. There's just not much security when your passwords scream "Free! Take one!" to anybody who happens to walk by.

Password Safe is an application that lets you keep track of all those passwords, and keeps everybody else out of them. With Password Safe, all you have to do is remember one password, and now all the rest of them are safely tucked away for you. You can choose to store all your information in one database, or you can use multiple ones—one for work, one for home, one for shopping, etc.

Password Safe is available for Windows, and also in a Java version that will run on Linux and Mac machines as well.

Download Password Safe

Encrypt volumes so securely that you can’t even see them with TrueCrypt

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

screenshot of TrueCrypt

How secure do your need your system to be? How about so secure that you can't even see there is a system there? That's one of the options with TrueCrypt.

You can encrypt an entire disk partition or storage device, making the entire contents of that volume unintelligible. Beyond that, you can even make that encrypted volume "invisible", so that it cannot even be found through normal means on the system. Taking that to the extreme, you can even, with a little sleight-of-hand, encrypt your windows boot partition, essentially hiding your entire system. Now that's secure!

An obvious use for the functionality that TrueCrypt provides is to make sure your USB drives are perfectly safe to have and move around. If you should happen to misplace a drive protected with this tool, there is no way the data on that volume can ever be retrieved. That's the kind of insurance we can all enjoy.

TrueCrypt is available for both Linux (kernel 2.6.5 or compatible) and Windows (Win 2000 and later, including 64-bit versions).

Download TrueCrypt