Archive for the ‘Windows Privacy & Security’ Category

Lock your system with ClearLock

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of ClearLock

When you walk away from your machine, Windows lets you choose to keep everybody else out of your business by locking your machine. If nothing interesting is happening on your computer, that's fine, but if the reason you're walking away is because you are compiling a big program or running a backup or huge download, it might be nice to see how things are progressing. Enter ClearLock.

With ClearLock, you protect your system from nefarious neighbors getting in and messing around with things. The only way to get control back on the system it to enter a password. In the meantime, you can still see what's going on because instead of blanking out the screen, ClearLock just overlays a dark but translucent layer on top of everything else. Now you'll be able to see when the download has completed, so you can get back to work. Now keep in mind that this isn't some high-tech solution, since its configuration information sits in a plaintext .INI file, but it should help keep the casual snoop out of your business.

ClearLock is a free Windows application.

Download ClearLock

Free password generator

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Password Generator

A good password is a complex password. If you just use your pet's name, your birthday, or "password", you're just asking for your account to be compromised, whether it's just your Gmail login or your bank account. What you need is a good password. Sometimes, though, it's just too hard to come up with one that's sufficiently complicated to get the job done.

Password Generator is a tool that can help you come up with a good, hard-to-break, password. You can choose from three levels of password complexity: a "normal" one that's going to mix all kinds of characters together, a "compatible" password that avoids upper case and non-alphanumeric characters, and then super-duper "extreme" password that includes all kinds of special characters. Unlike using "Fluffy" for your password, these are all going to be hard to remember, so you'll probably want to keep them in some sort of password locker tool, because if you misplace these guys, it's not going to be easy to log into your accounts.

You can download Password Generator for free and run it on your Windows system.

Download Password Generator

DeleteOnClick really deletes files

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of DeleteOnClick

Standard behavior for Windows systems when you delete a file is to put it in the Recycle Bin. You haven't really deleted the file; rather, you've just basically stuck it in a drawer and forgotten about it. If you decide later that you really didn't want to delete it, it's simple to go in and bring it back. Sometimes, though, when you throw something in the trash, you know you don't want it back. There are probably times when you want to make sure that nobody else can bring stuff back as well. That's where DeleteOnClick comes in.

With DeleteOnClick, when you delete a file, it is truly deleted. Not only doesn't it just stick it away in the Trash, it actually kills the underlying file in such a way that neither you nor anybody else is going to get it back. That being said, you really want to be sure that you want to get rid of it.

You can grab a copy of DeleteOnClick for free (look down around the middle of the page for the link). It's a Windows application.

Download DeleteOnClick

CleanUp! removes temporary files

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of CleanUp!

A good tool is something that helps you get things done better and more efficiently. A saw helps you make things smaller. A lawn mower helps you make your grass shorter. But how about tools that let you do multiple things? So much the better.

CleanUp! is a two-in-one tool. What it does is help you get rid of the leftover junk on your system, the dreaded "temporary files", which as we all know are often anything but temporary. Now there are a couple of problems inherent with temporary files. First of all, they take up extra space on your system. Get rid of them, and your system will probably run faster, and you'll have more room to store your ever-increasing collection of MP3s. In addition, there are potential security issues there. These temp files contain cached copies of web pages you've visited, and goodness knows what else. With CleanUp! these all go away.

It's easy to install and use CleanUp!. It's small enough that you can stick it on a USB thumb drive or a diskette (kids, ask your parents), and configuration is a snap. And if you really, really want your temporary stuff to go away, it also supports a secure delete, making it next to impossible for the curious to resurrect your deleted files. Afraid you might remove something important? Start out in "demo" mode to see what it thinks it ought to be deleting.

CleanUp! is a free download, and runs on Windows systems.

Download CleanUp!

Encrypt your USB pen drive

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of USB Safeguard

USB thumb drives are handy, to be sure. The fact that you can take a gigabyte—or 24 or more of them—of data, stick it in your pocket, and walk out the door is pretty amazing stuff. The flip side of that, of course, is that anybody else can do the same thing with your data. That's not so handy. So how do you safeguard your data while at the same time still affording yourself the convenience of the portability of that little stick of memory?

USB Safeguard is a tool that lets you encrypt the contents of your portable drive. Using 256-bit AES encryption, you won't need to worry about your data if you and your drive become separated. It features drag-and-drop encryption, so adding files to the drive is no problem. Going the other direction, you can shred files you want to get rid of, making it just about impossible for anybody else to get their hands on your info.

You can score a copy of USB Safeguard for free. It's a Windows app and will be right at home on your WinXP or later system.

Download USB Safeguard

Easy Shred File Shredder

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Easy Shred File Shredder

There are trash cans and there are trash cans. When you've got stray bits of this and that, a simple wastebasket will do. But when you've got something you really need to get rid of, you probably want to run it through a shredder first. The same logic applies to your electronic life as well. If you're just deleting junk from your system, drag it to the Recycle Bin and you're done with it. But for the serious stuff—last year's taxes, next year's business projections—you want to take a stronger stand. Remember, stuff you delete from your system isn't really gone—at least not right away—and can be brought back with a little bit of know-how.

If you don't want those things coming back, you need a "file shredder", a tool that, like its namesake, mangles those files beyond recognition and makes it really, really hard to put them back together, if it's even possible. Easy Shred File Shredder falls into this category. Unlike some apps that simply overwrite your deleted data with other data, this tool actually encrypts the data before it overwrites it. The advantage here is that, even if the overwritten data is successfully recovered, it's still encrypted, so that chances that your sensitive documents will somehow be misappropriated is just about zero. And that's a good place to be.

Easy Shred File Shredder is a free download for your Windows machine.

Download Easy Shred File Shredder

Generate secure passwords easily

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of Infinite Password Generator

Passwords are only as good as their strength. You know the drill: no dictionary words; longer is better; mix 'em up with alphabetic characters (upper- and lower case), numbers, symbols; use different passwords in different places; and all that. With so much hanging on the strength of those passwords, it's not something to play around with.

Remembering all those passwords can be a challenge, so there are lots of "password locker" tools out there that help keep track of them for you. What there doesn't seem to be as many of are apps that help you create those super-duper extra secure passwords.

Infinite Password Generator can give you a hand with this important task. You supply a master password and a keyword for each password you want to generate, and this tool will employ an MD5 algorithm to generate a password that will be next to impossible to hack, yet if you happen to lose of forget it, you can re-generate that password based on the keyword. No more having to fear that if your password list goes away that all will be lost.

A free download, Infinite Password Generator is a Windows application.

Download Infinite Password Generator

Secure your laptop with LAlarm

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of LAlarm

What's worse than losing your data? How about losing your computer with your data on it? Youch!

Laptops are handy things. You can grab your whole workspace and bring it with you. Working on a big project? Bring it home and finish it there. Pretty swell, until your laptop goes missing. So let's keep that from happening.

LAlarm features a bunch of different alarms to help protect you, your computer, and the data stored on it. Along with an anti-theft alarm, it comes with several other alarms as well. If your hard drive starts acting like it's going to fail, LAlarm sounds an alarm to let you know your data may be in danger. If your battery's about to run out, there's another alarm to let you know that you really ought to save your files. It's even got a "panic button" alarm that lets you sound an alert in case you happen to get into trouble while using your system—presumably something more than marauding bands of geeks.

LAlarm is free for personal use. It runs under Windows XP and later. Business users need to purchase a license.

Download LAlarm

FlyingBit Password Keeper

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

runs on Windows
screenshot of FlyingBit Password Keeper

Good passwords are necessary for good security. The more complex and complicated your passwords, the more secure your data will be. Unfortunately, the best passwords, with a healthy mix of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks, are next to impossible to remember—in fact if you can remember that password, it probably isn't complex enough. So now your stuff is secure, but you can't get into either, because you can't remember the password. You may need some help.

That help may come in the form of FlyingBit Password Keeper. This tool lets you store your passwords so that you don't have to remember them—just copy-and-paste from the tool into your app or web browser. But don't worry about the security of your passwords—they're all encrypted in a database on your hard drive, so even if somebody should grab that file, they're not going to be able to do anything with it. And if you travel, you can even put your password database on a USB stick or other removable media and bring it along. Yes, you will need to have a good password for your encrypted password database, but it's certainly easier to remember one password than dozens.

FlyingBit Password Keeper is a free download for your Windows system. It should run under Windows 98 and later.

Download FlyingBit Password Keeper

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