Archive for the ‘Windows Privacy & Security’ Category

Hide your desktop

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of SmokeScreen

Maybe you're scoping out some super secret new website. Or maybe you're just playing Minesweeper. Either way, it might be handy to be able to hide your screen when that nosy neighbor (or the boss) comes by.

SmokeScreen is a tool that lets you instantly make whatever is on your screen go away, replacing it with whatever you think would make it look like you're hard at work. You choose the trigger: roll your mouse to the edge of the screen, or maybe click the middle mouse button. You have the option of minimizing all the windows on your screen, or of displaying a screenshot of that busy spreadsheet or report you're supposed to be working on. And you can also decide whether a password is needed to restore your screen to its previous state. SmokeScreen sits there in the System Tray to remind you that it's running, or if you like even that icon can be hidden, allowing you to disguise the fact that you're hiding things.

SmokeScreen is a free download and runs under Windows.

Download SmokeScreen

Random Password Generator

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Random Password Generator

For securing your computer, as well as your online life, there's nothing like a password. The best password, however, is not "1234" and it's not "password" either. This leads to a couple of issues: how do you create a good password, and once you've created it, how do you remember it?

Random Password Generator can help you out with both of these issues. It creates passwords between 6 to 64 characters in length, and you can include your choice of lower case letters, upper case letters, numbers, and punctuation marks. When you build a password containing characters out of three or four of these classes and make it sufficiently long, you're getting pretty close to impossible to crack that password. And now that you've created that super strong password, Random Password Generator will store it for you as well. You can associate an ID with your password—maybe an account name, maybe an email address—as well as leaving a plaintext remark that you think might come in handy at password time. And of course since you're storing sensitive info like this, you can also set a password for Random Password Generator.

Random Password Generator is a free download. You should be able to use it with systems running Windows 2000 and later.

Download Random Password Generator

IObit Malware Fighter

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of IObit Malware Fighter

There are bad people out there and they mean to do you harm. You've got a lock on your front door to keep them out of your house. You've got an alarm to keep them out of your car. What are you doing to keep them out of your computer?

IObit Malware Fighter covers the waterfront in terms of keeping bad things from happening to your system. Run it in conjunction with your antivirus tool, and you'll be taking care of threats from spyware, adware, trojans, keyloggers, bots, worms, hijackers and other security-related risks. It watches your system at its most vulnerable points: system startup, web browsers and cookies, files and network activity, and more. Let it run in the background to watch for threats in real time, or run a full scan to deep clean your system, or set up a custom scan to check the pieces you're most interested in.

IObit Malware Fighter is a free download. It's a Windows app and runs under Win2k, XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

Download IObit Malware Fighter

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

Control access to your computer with a USB drive

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Predator

If you wanted everything you do on your computer to be public, I suppose you could set up shop in Times Square. You don't have to be involved in anything nefarious to want to keep your business away from others; maybe it's something as simple as that business proposal you've been working on, or that email from mom (you never call!).

Predator is a tool that can help you keep your business to yourself. Basically, it uses a standard run-of-the-mill USB thumb drive as an access device: once it's set up and running, if you remove the thumb drive, you lock your system. Now instead of having to go through the process of closing your Windows session or waiting for that password-enabled screensaver to kick in, your keyboard will be disabled and your screen will go blank by pulling that drive. Getting back on the air is just as simple: stick the drive back in and you're good to go.

Predator is a free download, but you will need to shell out a few bucks for a USB drive, unless you've got somebody's swag drive with their name plastered all over it in your desk drawer or kicking around at the bottom of your laptop bag.

Download Predator

Secure your laptop

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of LaptopLock

Nobody wants to lose their laptop. While the loss of the hardware represents a big chunk of change in itself, the data on that portable computer may represent an even greater loss. After all, you can buy a new computer if necessary, but you're not going to be able to get back those photos, spreadsheets, and everything else that lives on your system. In addition, to that, there is always the possibility that your information will be used against you: think of login and account information for your various online accounts, as well as proprietary business information, your address book, and more.

LaptopLock is a tool that can help out when your computer goes wandering. There's a two-step process at work here. On your computer, you can use this app to encrypt your files and also set it to phone home. Using their service, after you register your machine, if it ever goes missing, you can set your status to indicate that, and now whenever your machine goes online, it's going to check in with the LaptopLock folks. It will pass along whatever information it can glean regarding its current IP address, location, and all that stuff. In addition, if you have set your system up to do so, it can automatically run a selected application, or even go so far as to delete and wipe selected files, keeping your super secret data secure.

LaptopLock is a free service. The desktop application runs under Windows 2000 and later.

Download LaptopLock

Software USB write blocker

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Thumbscrew

USB thumb drives are handy little critters. Using something no bigger than a Pink Pearl pencil eraser, you can store anywhere from a couple gigabytes up to a ton of data, and then just as easily take it and stick it in your pocket. It's a long way from floppies, ZIP disks, and even CDs and DVDs. The fact that they're usable for both reading and writing data is a handy feature, unless you want to keep that from happening.

Thumbscrew is a simple app that lets you disable the ability to write to USB devices, whether they be flash drives or full-featured external drives. If you want to preserve the contents of your drive and keep it from being changed, disabling the ability to write should do the deed. It could come in handy as well if you don't want anybody nosing around your system to have the ability to stick their own drive into a USB port and start grabbing your stuff. Either way, you're not going to be able to write to that device—or any other piece of USB hardware—once it's been disabled. The publisher warns that this tool will probably do a pretty good job here, but if you've got super-secret extra-sensitive mission-critical stuff out there, you may want to opt for a more robust solution.

Thumbscrew is a free download. It's a Windows application.

Download Thumbscrew

Right-click files to encrypt them

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Lazar Crypter

When you were a kid and had a secret you wanted to keep, all you had to do was break out the Super Secret Decoder Ring you got for only three boxtops from Frosted Sugar Bombs, your favorite breakfast cereal, and go to town. Even though this was enough to keep your kid brother out of your business, anybody who was really determined to crack your code probably could do so. Back then, the consequences of that information being compromised weren't that big a deal. Fast forward to today. Now you've got stuff on your computer—financial information, trade secrets, stuff like that—where the impact of its being made public could be a bit more serious. That's where encryption software comes in.

Lazar Crypter is a tool that makes encrypting and decrypting files on the fly pretty easy. It integrates into Windows Explorer, so once you're installed, all you need to do is to right-click on a file, choose Encrypt (or Decrypt, as the case may be), and your secret stuff is secret. It's also got choices for Copy and Paste, making it easy to move your newly-encrypted files into other locations. The quick and easy part does have limitations, however; you can only encrypt or decrypt files one at a time (no bunch of files, no directory full of files), but if you're only looking at a document or three, that's probably not going to really get in your way.

Lazar Crypter is a free download. It's a Windows application and runs under XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

Download Lazar Crypter

FreeOTFE encrypts data on the fly

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of FreeOTFE

While some things are best when exposed to the light of day, there are some types of information that are better kept under wraps. Personnel records at work, for example, don't want to find themselves being available to anyone other than on a real need-to-know basis. And your plans for your next big marketing move aren't something you want your competitors to review before you've had a chance to implement them.

FreeOTFE is a free on-the-fly disk encryption application for Windows. To use it, you'll create an encrypted virtual drive on your system that looks like any other drive, but its contents will be totally encrypted, rendering them invisible to mere mortals. But since you've got the password, you can get in there and do what you need to with your data. And for even more protection, it's possible to create volumes that are invisible to Windows Explorer as well. Looks like that would make any data on there that much harder to get in and muck about with.

As its name suggests, FreeOTFE is a free download. It's a Windows app.

Download FreeOTFE

JottiQ speeds up malware checks

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of JottiQ

It's a dangerous world out there. This is true whether you're looking at things on a personal level, or seeing things through the eyes of your computer (computers have eyes?). When you're out moving about, you can keep your eyes open, make sure you stay in well-lit areas, pay attention to your surroundings and all that. Your computer may find things more challenging though. Having that extra set of eyes for your system can be vital.

Jotti has a free online malware scanning service, where you can upload suspect files and have them checked by an array of antivirus tools. While this is handy, it can also be time consuming, since you're limited to uploading one file at a time. It would be nice if you could queue up files to be checked rather than having to deal with them individually.

JottiQ (get it?) lets you do just that. Once it's been installed, it's easy to give it multiple files to upload and check via the Jotti service. Now clearly you're not going to upload your whole hard drive here, but for checking out a couple of files at a time, it's got to be a whole lot faster than doing them individually.

A Windows application, JottiQ is "donationware", meaning that you can use it for free, or you can drop a couple bucks in the tip jar if you're so inclined.

Download JottiQ