Tag: Digital Signature
Sometimes, however, all of this may be done in much simpler ways, as was the case in the malicious campaign that we detected a while ago – we named it 'Microcin' after microini, one of the malicious components used in it.
It confirmed after what it described as a complete forensic analysis that only email addresses were accessed, and not other details such as names, physical addresses, passwords, social security numbers, credit card data, or other information.[ 18 surprising tips for security pros. | Discover how to secure your systems with InfoWorld's Security Report newsletter. ]“No content or any customer documents sent through DocuSignrsquo;s eSignature system was accessed; and DocuSignrsquo;s core eSignature service, envelopes, and customer documents and data remain secure,” DocuSign said in a post.
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A biometric digital signature of the transaction within the associated log entry solves the non-repudiation problem by associating the transaction details with a user.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here
But there's always one laggard: encryption. Why the deliberate pace? Because a single, small mistake can cut off communications or shut down businesses. Yet there are times when you take stock—only to discover the encryption landscape seems to have transformed overnight. Now is that time.
Although the changes have been incremental over several years, the net effect is dramatic. Some of those changes began shortly after Edward Snowden's disclosures of the U.S. government’s extensive surveillance apparatus. Others are the natural result of cryptographic ideas reaching the marketplace, says Brent Waters, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the recipient of the Association for Computing Machinery’s 2015 Grace Murray Hopper Award. “Many of the new tools and applications available are based on research innovations from 2005 and 2006,” Waters says. “We are just realizing what type of crypto functionality is possible.” A step closer to an encrypted world Encrypted web traffic is the first step toward a more secure online world where attackers cannot intercept private communications, financial transactions, or general online activity. Many sites, including Google and Facebook, have turned HTTPS on by default for all users. But for most domain owners, buying and deploying SSL/TLS certificates in order to secure traffic to their sites has been a costly and complicated endeavor. Fortunately, Let’s Encrypt and its free SSL/TLS certificates have transformed the landscape, giving domain owners the tools to turn on HTTPS for their websites easily.
A nonprofit certificate authority run by the Internet Security Research Group, Let’s Encrypt is backed by such internet heavyweights as Mozilla, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Cisco, and Akamai. How ubiquitous has HTTPS become? In October, Josh Aas, head of Let’s Encrypt and former Mozilla employee, posted a graph from Mozilla Telemetry showing that 50 percent of pages loaded that day used HTTPS, not HTTP. While the graph showed only Firefox users, the figure is still significant, because for the first time, the number of encrypted pages outnumbered unencrypted pages. NSS Labs expects the trend to continue, predicting that 75 percent of all Web traffic will be encrypted by 2019. Free certificate offerings will further accelerate adoption. By next year, the number of publicly trusted free certificates issued will likely outnumber those that are paid for, says Kevin Bocek, vice president of security strategy and threat intelligence at key-management company Venafi. Many enterprises will also start using free services. With certificate cost no longer a consideration, certificate authorities will focus on better tools to securely manage certificates and protect their keys. Speaking of certificate management, after years of warnings that SHA-1 certificates were weak and vulnerable to attack, enterprises are making steady progress toward upgrading to certificates that use SHA-2, the set of cryptographic hash functions succeeding the obsolete SHA-1 algorithm. Major browser makers, including Google, Mozilla, and Microsoft, have pledged to deprecate SHA-1 by the beginning of the year and to start blocking sites still using the older certificates.
Facebook stopped serving SHA-1 connections and saw “no measurable impact,” wrote Facebook production engineer Wojciech Wojtyniak. From May to October 2016, the use of SHA-1 on the web fell from 3.5 percent to less than 1 percent, as measured by Firefox Telemetry.
Enterprises can’t be complacent, though, since recent estimates from Venafi suggest approximately 60 million websites still rely on the insecure encryption algorithm. “We look forward to the industry's movement toward greater use of stronger certificates like SHA-256,” Wojtyniak said. Crypto is still king Cryptography has taken quite a beating over the past few months, with researchers developing cryptographic attacks such as Drown, which can be used to decrypt TLS connections between a user and a server if the server supports SSLv2, and Sweet32, a way to attack encrypted web connections by generating huge amounts of web traffic. Nation-state actors also have encryption in their crosshairs. Late last year, Juniper Networks uncovered spying code implanted in specific models of its firewall and Virtual Private Network appliances. Many experts believe the NSA was involved. Shortly after the cache of hacking tools allegedly belonging to the NSA made its way to underground markets this summer, Cisco discovered a vulnerability in its IOS, IOS XE, and IOS XR software that powers many of its networking devices.
The flaw, which could be used to extract sensitive information from device memory, was similar to the vulnerability exploited by the tools and was related to how the operating system processed the key exchange protocol for VPNs, Cisco said. Even Apple’s iMessage app, the poster child for how companies can bring end-to-end encryption to the masses, had its share of issues.
Cryptography professor Matthew Green and his team of students at Johns Hopkins University were able to develop a practical adaptive chosen ciphertext attack that could decrypt iMessage payloads and attachments under specific circumstances.
The team also found that iMessage lacked the forward secrecy mechanism, meaning attackers could decrypt previously encrypted messages, such as those stored in iCloud.
Forward secrecy works by generating a new key after a set period of time so that even if the attackers obtained the original key, the previously encrypted messages can’t be cracked. One thing remains clear despite all the bad news: Cryptography is not broken.
The mathematics behind cryptographic calculations remain strong, and encryption is still the best way to protect information. “The latest attacks have not been on the math, but on the implementation,” Waters says. In fact, encryption works so well that attackers rely on it, too.
Criminals are equally as capable of obtaining keys and certificates to hide their activities inside encrypted traffic.
The fact that this attack vector is fast becoming default behavior for cybercriminals “almost counteracts the whole purpose of adding more encryption,” Bocek says. Cybercriminals are using encryption to great effect in ransomware. Once the files are encrypted, victims have to either pay up to obtain a key or wipe their systems and start over. Just as attackers target flawed implementations, security researchers have successfully developed decryption tools for ransomware variants that contained mistakes in their encryption code. Government backs down on backdoors Technology firms have always had to balance security and privacy concerns with law enforcement requests for user information.
FBI Director James Comey had been pushing hard for backdoors in technology products using encryption, claiming that increased use of encryption was hindering criminal investigations. While companies frequently quietly cooperate with law enforcement and intelligence requests, the unprecedented public showdown between the FBI and Apple showed that in recent years, enterprises are beginning to push back. The FBI backed down in that fight, and a bipartisan Congressional working group—with members of both House Judiciary and Energy & Commerce Committees—was formed to study the encryption problem.
The House Judiciary Committee’s Encryption Working Group unequivocally rejected Comey's calls for backdoors and advised the United States to explore other solutions. “Any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest,” the working group wrote in its report. “Congress cannot stop bad actors—at home or overseas—from adopting encryption.
Therefore, the Committees should explore other strategies to address the needs of the law enforcement community.” Weakening encryption so that police can break into encrypted devices would speed up criminal investigations, but it would be a short-term win "against the long-term impacts to the national interest," the working group warned.
Alternative strategies include giving law enforcement legal methods to compel suspects to unlock their devices and improving metadata collection and analysis. While the working group report indicates Congress will not pursue legal backdoors, other encryption-related battles are looming on the horizon.
The report seemed to support letting police use "legal hacking" to break into products using software vulnerabilities that only law enforcement and intelligence authorities know about, which poses its own security implications.
The technology industry has an interest in learning about vulnerabilities as soon as they are found, and not letting the government stockpile them with no oversight. As for Comey's "going dark" claim, the working group said “the challenge appears to be more akin to ‘going spotty.’” Adding to the enterprise tech stack Governments have been trotting out the terrorists “going dark” argument for years and will always play on those fears, says Mike Janke, co-founder and chairman of encrypted communications company Silent Circle. What's changing is that the enterprises are becoming more serious about securing their communications stack and are less willing to compromise on those features. Many organizations were shocked at the extent of government surveillance exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
They reacted by integrating secure video and text messaging tools along with encrypted voice calls into the enterprise communications stack, Janke says.
Encryption is now a bigger part of the technology conversation, as enterprises ask about what features and capabilities are available.
IT no longer treats encryption as an added feature to pay extra for, but as a must-have for every product and platform they work with. Consumers were outraged by the surveillance programs, and anecdotal evidence indicates many have signed up for encrypted messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Signal.
But for the most part, they aren't paying for secure products or changing their behaviors to make privacy a bigger part of their daily lives. The change is coming from CSOs, vice presidents of engineering, and other technical enterprise leaders, because they're at the forefront of making security and privacy decisions for their products and services. With Tesla now digitally signing firmware for every single one of its internal components with a cryptographic key, it's easier to ask TV manufacturers or toymakers, "Why aren't you doing that?" says Janke. Consumers are the ones who will benefit from encryption built in by default as enterprises change their mindset about the importance of encryption. Riding the innovation wave Cryptography tends to go in waves, with important innovations and research from 2005 to 2006 finally coming out as practical applications. Researchers are currently looking at improving the "precision of encrpytion," instead of the current model of all or nothing, where if something is exposed, everything gets leaked. "Encrpytion can be precise like a scalpel, giving fine-grained control over the information," Waters says. Google has looked at cryptography in its experiments with neural networks. Recently, its Google Brain team created two artificial intelligence systems that was able to create their own cryptographic algorithm in order to keep their messages a secret from a third AI instance that was trying to actively decrypt the algorithms. The dawn of quantum computing will also spur new avenues of research. “If large-scale quantum computers are ever built, they will be able to break many of the public-key cryptosystems currently in use,” wrote the National Institute of Standards and Technology in a public notice. Once such machines become widely available, “this would seriously compromise the confidentiality and integrity of digital communications on the Internet and elsewhere." To prepare for that eventuality, NIST is soliciting work on "new public-key cryptography standards," which will "specify one or more additional unclassified, publicly disclosed digital signature, public-key encryption, and key-establishment algorithms that are capable of protecting sensitive government information well into the foreseeable future, including after the advent of quantum computers.” The submission deadline is Nov. 30, 2017, but NIST acknowledges the work will take years to be tested and available, noting that "historically, it has taken almost two decades to deploy our modern public key cryptography infrastructure." “Regardless of whether we can estimate the exact time of the arrival of the quantum computing era, we must begin now to prepare our information security systems to be able to resist quantum computing,” NIST said. There have been a number of intriguing advances in cryptography, but it will likely be years before they become available to enterprise IT departments, and who knows what form they will take.
The future of cryptography promises even more security.
The good news is we are already experiencing some of the benefits now.
But if you've an hour to spare, and that's as likely in this week as any, perhaps you'll be able to tell us more about Alagic's approach. ® Youtube Video Sponsored: Next gen cybersecurity.
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation aims to protect Web traffic by encrypting the entire Internet using HTTPS.
Chrome now puts a little warning marker in the Address Bar next to any non-secure HTTP address.
Encryption is important, and not only for Web surfing.
If you encrypt all of the sensitive documents on your desktop or laptop, a hacker or laptop thief won't be able to parley their possession into identity theft, bank account takeover, or worse.
To help you select an encryption product that's right for your computer, we've rounded up a collection of current products.
As we review more products in this area, we'll keep the list up to date.
No Back Doors
When the FBI needed information from the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, they asked Apple for a back door to get past the encryption.
But no such back door existed, and Apple refused to create one.
The FBI had to hire hackers to get into the phone.
Why wouldn't Apple help? Because the moment a back door or similar hack exists, it becomes a target, a prize for the bad guys.
It will leak sooner or later.
In a talk at Black Hat this past summer, Apple's Ivan Krstic revealed that the company has done something similar in their cryptographic servers. Once the fleet of servers is up and running, they physically destroy the keys that would permit modification.
Apple can't update them, but the bad guys can't get in either.
All of the products in this roundup explicitly state that they have no back door, and that's as it should be.
It does mean that if you encrypt an essential document and then forget the encryption password, you've lost it for good.
Two Main Approaches
Back in the day, if you wanted to keep a document secret you could use a cipher to encrypt it and then burn the original. Or you could lock it up in a safe.
The two main approaches in encryption utilities parallel these options.
One type of product simply processes files and folders, turning them into impenetrable encrypted versions of themselves.
The other creates a virtual disk drive that, when open, acts like any other drive on your system. When you lock the virtual drive, all of the files you put into it are completely inaccessible.
Similar to the virtual drive solution, some products store your encrypted data in the cloud.
This approach requires extreme care, obviously.
Encrypted data in the cloud has a much bigger attack surface than encrypted data on your own PC.
Which is better? It really depends on how you plan to use encryption.
If you're not sure, take advantage of the 30-day free trial offered by each of these products to get a feel for the different options.
Secure Those Originals
After you copy a file into secure storage, or create an encrypted version of it, you absolutely need to wipe the unencrypted original. Just deleting it isn't sufficient, even if you bypass the Recycle Bin, because the data still exists on disk, and data recovery utilities can often get it back.
Some encryption products avoid this problem by encrypting the file in place, literally overwriting it on disk with an encrypted version.
It's more common, though, to offer secure deletion as an option.
If you choose a product that lacks this feature, you should find a free secure deletion tool to use along with it.
Overwriting data before deletion is sufficient to balk software-based recovery tools. Hardware-based forensic recovery works because the magnetic recording of data on a hard drive isn't actually digital.
It's more of a waveform.
In simple terms, the process involves nulling out the known data and reading around the edges of what's left.
If you really think someone (the feds?) might use this technique to recover your incriminating files, you can set your secure deletion tool to make more passes, overwriting the data beyond what even these techniques can recover.
An encryption algorithm is like a black box.
Dump a document, image, or other file into it, and you get back what seems like gibberish. Run that gibberish back through the box, with the same password, and you get back the original.
The U.S. government has settled on Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) as a standard, and all of the products gathered here support AES.
Even those that support other algorithms tend to recommend using AES.
If you're an encryption expert, you may prefer another algorithm, Blowfish, perhaps, or the Soviet government's GOST.
For the average user, however, AES is just fine.
Public Key Cryptography and Sharing
Passwords are important, and you have to keep them secret, right? Well, not when you use Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) cryptography.
With PKI, you get two keys. One is public; you can share it with anyone, register it in a key exchange, tattoo it on your forehead—whatever you like.
The other is private, and should be closely guarded.
If I want to send you a secret document, I simply encrypt it with your public key. When you receive it, your private key decrypts it.
Using this system in reverse, you can create a digital signature that proves your document came from you and hasn't been modified. How? Just encrypt it with your private key.
The fact that your public key decrypts it is all the proof you need. PKI support is less common than support for traditional symmetric algorithms.
If you want to share a file with someone and your encryption tool doesn't support PKI, there are other options for sharing. Many products allow creation of a self-decrypting executable file. You may also find that the recipient can use a free, decryption-only tool.
What's the Best?
Right now there are three Editors' Choice products in the consumer-accessible encryption field.
The first is the easiest to use of the bunch, the next is the most secure, and the third is the most comprehensive.
AxCrypt Premium has a sleek, modern look, and when it's active you'll hardly notice it.
Files in its Secured Folders get encrypted automatically when you sign out, and it's one of the few that support public key cryptography.
CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box goes through a multistage security handshake that authenticates you to the site and authenticates the site to you. Your files are encrypted, split into chunks, and tokenized.
Then each chunk gets stored on a different server.
A hacker who breached one server would get nothing useful.
Folder Lock can either encrypt files or simply lock them so nobody can access them.
It also offers encrypted lockers for secure storage.
Among its many other features are file shredding, free space shredding, secure online backup, and self-decrypting files.
The other products here also have their merits, too, of course. Read the capsules below and then click through to the full reviews to decide which one you'll use to protect your files. Have an opinion on one of the apps reviewed here, or a favorite tool we didn't mention? Let us know in the comments.
FEATURED IN THIS ROUNDUP
Having your laptop stolen is traumatic; having the thief gain access to your sensitive documents could be catastrophic.
To avert the possibility of catastrophe, use an encryption tool to protect your most important files. With Steganos Safe 18, you can create any number of encrypted storage containers.
Steganos combines an impressive variety of security options with an interface that's very easy to use.
Your $39.95 purchase lets you install Steganos Safe on up to five PCs.
This is a one-time cost, which is a common model for encryption tools.
Editors' Choice utility Folder Lock also costs $39.95, and Ranquel Technologies CryptoForge goes for $39.70. You'll pay $45 for Cypherix PC, and $59.95 for CryptoExpert. Note, though, that those are single licenses.
The five-license Steganos package is quite a bargain.
In addition to being available a standalone product, Steganos Safe is an integral part of the full Steganos Privacy Suite.
This suite also includes Steganos Password Manager 18 and a number of other useful tools.
What Is Encryption?
Throughout history, rulers and generals have needed to communicate their plans in secret, and their enemies have devoted great resources to cracking their secret communication systems.
A cipher that simply replaces every letter with a different letter or symbol is easy enough to crack based on letter frequency.
France's Louis XIV used a system called The Great Cipher, which held out for 200 years before anyone cracked it.
Father-son team Antoine and Bonaventure Rossignol conceived the idea of encoding syllables rather than letters, and letting multiple code numbers represent the same syllable.
They also included nulls, numbers that contributed nothing to the cipher.
But even this long-unbroken cipher pales in comparison with modern encryption technology.
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), the US government's official standard, runs blocks of data through multiple transformations, typically using a 256-bit key.
Bruce Schneier's Blowfish algorithm should be even tougher to crack, as it uses a 448-byte key.
Whatever the size of the key, you must get it to the recipient somehow, and that process is the weakest point in the system.
If your enemy obtains the key, whatever its size, you lose. Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) cryptography has no such weakness.
Each user has two keys, a public key that's visible to anybody and a private key that nobody else has.
If I encrypt a file with your public key, you can decrypt it with the private key.
Conversely, if I encrypt a file with my private key, the fact that you can decrypt it with my public key proves it came from me—a digital signature.
Getting Started with Steganos Safe
The Steganos encryption utility's installation is quick and simple. Once finished, it shows you a simple main window that has two big buttons, one to create a new safe and one to open a hidden safe.
When a safe is open, it looks and acts precisely like a disk drive. You can move files into and out of it, create new documents, edit documents in place, and so on.
But once you close the safe, its contents become totally inaccessible. Nobody can unlock it without the password, not even Steganos.
Like Editors' Choice tools CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box, AxCrypt, and Folder Lock, Steganos uses AES for all encryption. However, it cranks the key size up from the usual 256 bits to 384 bits.
CryptoExpert and CryptoForge offer four different algorithms, and Advanced Encryption Package goes over the top with 17 choices.
Few users have the knowledge to make an informed choice of algorithm, so I see no problem sticking with AES.
Steganos warns if you try to close a safe while you still have files from the safe open for editing.
In addition to the basic safe, Steganos can optionally create portable safes and cloud safes.
I'll cover each safe type separately.
Create a Safe
The process of creating a new safe for storing your sensitive documents is quite simple, with a wizard that walks you through the steps. You start by assigning a name and drive letter to the safe—the program's main window shows you the name.
By default, Steganos creates the file representing your safe in a subfolder of the Documents folder, but you can override that default to put it wherever you want, including on a network drive.
Next, you define the safe's capacity, from a minimum of 2MB to a maximum that depends on your operating system. Unlike Cypherix PE and CryptoExpert, with Steganos the initial capacity doesn't have to be a hard limit. You can create a safe whose size grows dynamically.
Folder Lock works a bit differently. While you must set a maximum size at creation, it only uses as much space as its current content requires.
A newly created Cypherix volume requires formatting. With Steganos, the safe is ready for use immediately.
The next step is to select a password.
If you've created a master password for Steganos Password Manager, the password dialog should look familiar.
Steganos rates password strength as you type.
If you wish, you can define the password by clicking a sequence of pictures rather than typing it in.
There's also an option to enter the password using a virtual keyboard.
Folder Lock and InterCrypto Advanced Encryption Package 2016 also offer a virtual keyboard.
Here's a useful option. You can choose to store the password on a removable drive, making that drive effectively the safe's key.
By default, a safe opened in this way closes automatically when you remove the key.
It's not two-factor authentication, as you can still unlock the safe using just the password, but it's certainly convenient.
In a similar situation, you can configure InterCrypto CryptoExpert 8 to require both the master password and the USB key.
Digging into the program's settings, you can simplify the process by disabling advanced wizard options.
If you do so, Steganos chooses default values for each new safe's drive letter and filename.
There's a special option that only appears for safes smaller than 3MB.
If you've chosen an acceptable size, a link appears explaining how you can create a hidden safe.
Steganos can hide a small-enough safe inside a video, audio, or executable file.
After creating the safe, you click it, choose Hide from the menu, and select a carrier file.
Steganos stuffs the entire safe into the carrier, without affecting the carrier's ability to function as a program or audio/video file.
To open it, you click Open a Hidden Safe on the main window, select the carrier, and enter the password. Just don't forget where you hid the safe.
For additional security, consider creating a portable safe that you only bring out when you need to access it.
The process is similar. You start by selecting the target device, which can be a USB storage device or an optical drive. You define the size and create a password, just as for a regular safe.
But then the process diverges.
Steganos creates and opens what it calls a prepackaging drive, using the drive letter of your choice.
Showing its age, the tool warns that portable safes don't support Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 95/98/Me. You click to open the prepackaging drive and drag the desired files into it. When you click Next, Steganos creates the necessary files on the target device. You're done!
If the size of the portable safe is less than about 512MB, Steganos creates what it calls a SelfSafe by default.
As with the hidden option for regular safes, you won't even see this as a choice if your desired size is too large.
The SelfSafe is a single executable file called SteganosPortableSafe.exe that contains both the necessary decryption code and the data representing the safe's contents. Otherwise, it stores the contents in a folder called Portable_Safe and adds a file called usbstarter.exe.
Either way, launching the file lets you enter the password and open the portable safe.
In testing, I did run into one surprise; a portable safe is not completely portable.
It requires the Steganos encryption engine. You can only open and work with your portable safe on a PC where you've installed the program.
As noted, you can open a portable safe on any PC where you've installed Steganos Safe.
Creating a cloud safe is another way to share your encrypted files between PCs.
Steganos supports the cloud storage services Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. Whichever you choose, you must install that cloud service's desktop app.
The help points out that Google Drive and OneDrive must re-sync the entire safe when there's any change, while DropBox can selectively sync changes only.
My test PC didn't have any of the desktop apps installed, and the cloud safe creation dialog reflected this fact.
For testing purposes, I installed the Dropbox app.
As with a regular safe, you select a name and drive letter and then choose the safe's size.
For a cloud safe, you don't get the option to have the safe expand as needed.
Create your password, wait for the safe's initialization, and you're ready to go.
The safe syncs to the cloud each time you close it, and you can use it on any PC that has both Steganos and the proper cloud app installed.
Click a safe and click Settings to bring up the administration dialog. Here you can change the password, name, and file location for the safe, but that's not all. On the main page of the dialog you can color-code the safe, and choose whether Windows should see it as a local drive or a removable drive. On the Events tab, you can choose whether to open the safe when you log on, and whether to close it on events such as screen saver activation or going into standby.
There's an option to define an action that occurs after the safe opens, and after it closes.
For example, you could configure it to automatically launch a file that resides within the safe after opening it, or automatically make a backup copy after closing it.
Perhaps most interesting is the Safe in a Safe feature.
This defines a separate safe, hidden within the normal safe, occupying a user-defined percentage of available space, and having its own password.
Depending on which password you use to open the safe, you either open the Safe in a Safe, or the original safe that contains it.
Sneaky! But take care.
If you overfill the outer safe, its contents can wipe out the super-secret Safe in a Safe.
It's all well and good to put your most sensitive files into an encrypted safe, but if you leave the unencrypted originals on disk, you haven't accomplished much, security-wise.
Even if you delete the originals, they're not really gone, because their data remains on disk until new data overwrites it.
For true privacy, you must use a secure deletion tool that overwrites file data before deletion, something like this program's file-shredder component.
The easiest way to use the shredder is to right-click a file or folder and choose Destroy from the menu that appears.
Steganos overwrites the file's data once and then deletes it.
This should be sufficient to foil software-based file recovery systems, though it would still be theoretically possible for a hardware-based forensic tool to get back some or all of the data.
Folder Lock, by contrast, lets you choose up to 35 overwrite passes, which is overkill, as there's no added benefit after seven passes.
Launching the full File Shredder from the main window's menu reveals that it does more than just securely delete files.
As with Folder Lock, Steganos can overwrite all the free space on a disk.
Doing so wipes out all traces of previously deleted files, in effect shredding them ex post facto.
This can be a lengthy process, so you may want to use the scheduler to set it for a time when you're not using the computer. You can also schedule daily or weekly free space shredding. Note that if you stop and restart the free space shredding process, it skips quickly past previously shredded areas.
Finally, there's the Complete Shredder nuclear option.
Choose this to completely wipe out all data on a drive, including partition data.
A drive that's been shredded in this way must be formatted before you can do anything with it. Like shredding free space, this process can take quite a while.
By observation, you can't shred the active Windows volume, which makes sense. When I tried, there was no error message, but it did nothing.
Comprehensive Encrypted Storage
Steganos Safe 18 focuses on the singular task of creating encrypted storage containers for your sensitive files, and it does that task very well.
It's easier to use than most of its competitors, and its Safe in Safe and hidden safe options are unique. You can only use its portable safe and cloud safe features on PCs that have the program installed, but your purchase gets you five licenses.
However, Folder Lock does most of what Steganos does, and quite a lot more.
It features include encryption of individual files and folders, secure storage of private data, a history cleaner, and (at an extra cost) secure online backup.
AxCrypt Premium is even easier to use than Steganos, and supports public key cryptography.
And CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box protects your cloud-stored encrypted files against any possibility of a data breach.
These three are our Editors' Choice products for encryption, but Steganos is a worthy contender.
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To help developers check their code for implementation errors and find weaknesses in cryptographic software libraries, Google has...
The Web giants will create a shared industry database of hashes—digital fingerprints that can identify a specific file—for violent terrorist imagery and terrorist recruitment materials that have previously been removed from their platforms. According to a statement the four companies have jointly released, the hope is that "this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online." Once a hash has been added to the database, "other participating companies can then use those hashes to identify such content on their services, review against their respective policies and definitions, and remove matching content as appropriate." Matching content will not be removed automatically, the statement says, and other online services will be encouraged to join the scheme. Each participating company will "independently determine what image and video hashes to contribute to the shared database," but no details of how the scheme will work in practice have been provided.
A likely model is Microsoft's PhotoDNA, which is used to combat online images of child sex abuse. Microsoft's system "compiles a digital signature of images, which can be matched against a database of known child pornography images." However, there is an important difference between the two situations. Whereas child sex abuse is unambiguously illegal, and relatively clear-cut in its definition, it is much harder defining what exactly constitutes "violent terrorist imagery or terrorist recruitment videos or images." As a result, there is a risk that the new database will lead to censorship, where controversial but legal material is removed as a result of an overcautious approach. The four companies claim to be aware that this is an issue, and say in their statement that "throughout this collaboration, we are committed to protecting our users’ privacy and their ability to express themselves freely and safely on our platforms." Ars has asked the Open Rights Group for its comments on this point, but has not yet received a reply.
This post will be updated when a response is received. This latest move reflects a growing pressure on Internet companies from politicians around the world to remove material that is deemed illegal or harmful.
Back in May, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube announced that they had agreed with the European Commission a code of conduct on illegal online hate speech. A few days ago, the EU's justice commissioner Vera Jourova said that the four were not doing enough to comply with the code, and she threatened to bring in new Europe-wide laws to address the problem unless they and other online services tried harder, according to Reuters.
This newly announced database might well be part of an effort to head off that possibility. This post originated on Ars Technica UK