FREE Software To Password Protect And Secure The Files You Store Online

February 17, 2015

I will be the first to admit that I am skeptical of storing sensitive files on the internet and what files I do store (or backup) online are encrypted with AES256-based encryption using a small file archive utility program called PeaZip. This added level of security gives me peace of mind knowing that my files cannot be compromised in the event my online account disappears (or the account in itself is compromised).

PeaZip

After spending a considerable amount of time looking for software to carry out the encryption of my files (that I store online), I did not go for a standalone encryption utility; instead, I ended up using the file archive utility, called PeaZip (screenshots).

What I like about PeaZip is that the focus is on security where multiple strong encryption password protected archive files standards are supported, such as the AES256-based encryption standard. If you really want to make your files secure you also have option of using PeaZip’s two factor authentication where a password and keyfile are both required in order to access the archive.

Integrated into PeaZip are utilities to create random keyfiles and passwords; AND, this I really likePeaZip has a built in utility that supports secure file deletion to erase tracks of unwanted data.

If you are looking for an easy way to secure files on your computer and/or secure files you store online, I would definitely give PeaZip a try (which is available as a Windows install and portable app):

  • PeaZip is a free cross-platform file archiver that provides an unified portable GUI for many Open Source technologies like 7-Zip, FreeArc, PAQ, UPX…
  • Create 7Z, ARC, BZ2, GZ, *PAQ, PEA, QUAD/BALZ, TAR, UPX, WIM, XZ, ZIP files
  • Open and extract over 150 archive types: ACE, ARJ, CAB, DMG, ISO, LHA, RAR, UDF, ZIPX files and more…
  • Features of PeaZip includes extract, create and convert multiple archives at once, create self-extracting archives, split/join files, strong encryption with two factor authentication, encrypted password manager, secure deletion, find duplicate files, calculate hashes, export job definition as script.

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Must Have Software To Backup The Windows Registry

December 26, 2014

The Windows operating system is dependent on a built in component called the registry that is a centralized storage (database) area that all-in-all manages the operation of your Windows computer. The registry stores and manages your Windows system configuration, computer hardware, information about installed programs, program associations and user preferences. I often refer to the registry as the brain of Windows.

During the operation of your computer, Windows continually references the registry, via a structured hierarchy of keys, subkeys, and named values; to ensure the consistent operation of your computer. For example, when you install hardware and/or software on your computer, the registry is often accessed and modified. The registry can also be manually edited with the right amount of understanding and expertise. The whole point here is that the registry is a sensitive part of the operating system and can be corrupted due to a bad hardware/software install, improper editing by the user and most commonly through a malware infection.

To bail out of these type of situations, most users will often use Windows Restore, in an attempt to recover the system; however, I have found through experience that the Windows Restore is not always the answer and does not always work (especially if it is a malware infection).

A solution that I use is a utility, made by Tweaking.com, called Registry Backup. This utility has been specifically developed to backup the registry either manually or automatically (at scheduled intervals). With this utility I typically backup the registry prior to any software installs, hardware installs and/or Windows Updates (which also can cause issues). In the event a problem occurs, you can restore the registry via one of the backups that you created; and, if you are saavy enough to understand the registry it is possible to backup only specific areas of the registry with this utility.

Registry Backup

This program contains the follow features:

  • One click backup and restore.
  • Can restore from Windows Safe Mode.
  • Can restore from the Windows Recovery Console
  • Portable version can be ran from a thumb drive and keep backups of multiple systems.
  • Automatic cleanup of older backups.
  • Set and control scheduling options.
  • Can backup & restore all user profiles on the system, not just the ones that are currently loaded.
  • Control which registry files are backed up or restored.
  • Detailed logs are saved with each backup.
  • Multiple easy restore options.
  • Online videos showing how to use the program and how to use the different restore options.

Windows XP/Vista/7/8 — 32-bit program. Can run on both a 32-bit and 64-bit OS.

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Keep An Installed Copy of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (FREE) On Your PC

December 22, 2014

I have featured the FREE version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware in the past and thought this would be a good time to once again promote this “must have” security software. One thing to point out at the start is that the FREE version of Malwarebytes is only a scanning utility and does not provide real-time protection. You can get the real-time protection by purchasing the commercial version of their software. Don’t let this deter you from downloading the FREE version. I use the FREE version and make a habit to manually download the updates and perform routine scans of my computer.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is the best out there when it comes to detection and removal of Malware. According to OPSWAT, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is the most popular security product installed by users. I guess the important thing I am trying to get across is that it is important to have this software on your PC so that you can fire it up, at a moments noticed, when you suspect a problem.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware’s industry-leading scanner detects and removes malware like worms, Trojans, rootkits, rogues, spyware, and more. All you have to do is launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and run a scan. It’s that simple. Or if you want even better protection, consider Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium and its instant real-time scanner that automatically prevents malware and websites from infecting your PC. Either way you’re crushing malware and foiling hackers…

Anti-Malware/Anti-Spyware – Detects and eliminates malware your antivirus will miss.

Malwarebytes Anti-Rootkit – Removes rootkits and repairs the files they damage.

Advanced Malware Removal – Employs industry-leading technology to completely remove malware code.

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Getting rid of that old computer? If so, you need to Boot and Nuke It

December 18, 2014

If you are in a position where it is “out with the old computer” and “in with the new computer”, please keep in mind it is important to make sure that the data on the old computer is not compromised. What many folks typically do is “packrat” the old computer by putting it aside, for sometimes years; OR, they will give it away as a donation, etc… No matter the scenario, it is very important that you make sure the computer does not leave your possession until your personal information and data has been removed and/or destroyed. The only way(s) to ensure that your personal information is safe is to either remove and destroy the drive(s) or use software that is engineered to wipe the drive(s) (of everything).

An option to consider, for home based computer users, is the open source program called DBAN – Darik’s Boot and Nuke. This program has been around for many years and was acquired by a company in Finland called Blancco in 2012. One of Blancco’s products is a powerful and secure data erasure tool that is geared toward the enterprise level of computing; however, DBAN – Darik’s Boot and Nuke is free erasure software designed for the home user. I can attest that this software will adequately serve the needs of the home based computer user when it comes to data removal.

DBAN is free erasure software designed for the home user. It automatically deletes the contents of any hard disk that it can detect. This method can help prevent identity theft before recycling a computer. DBAN is also a commonly used solution to remove viruses and spyware from Microsoft Windows installations.

Here’s how it works: I downloaded the DBAN ISO image file, wrote the ISO image to a CD and booted it on my old PC. You may have to go into the BIOS on the old computer to change the boot order so that the computer will boot from the CD. 

Once DBAN has booted, you will be presented with the following screen. At this screen you can type autonuke, press enter, and DBAN will do the rest for you (using the default settings). The Autonuke mode should be a sufficient in removing data from the computer.

DBAN start screen

 

The screenshot below is an example of the progress you will see. Erasing data on a drive, depending on the drive size and the amount of data, can take hours.

DBAN running in autonuke mode

 

When DBAN is finished, it will display a message similar what you see below to indicate that the CD can be removed and the computer powered off. You can feel confident that your data has been “nuked”.

DBAN autonuke finished message

 

Interactive Mode

There is also an interactive mode that you can select at the first screen, by hitting Enter. This mode gives you greater control (i.e. you can select the pseudo-random number generator, wiping method, verification method and rounds).

DBAN interactive

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FREE SafeHouse Explorer – An Excellent Alternative Replacement To TrueCrypt

September 14, 2014

As a geek who has a passion for software, I often get on these kicks where I will focus on one particular software category. Lately, with all the news of various cloud based services being compromised, I started on the hunt for some good file/folder encryption software. What I was looking for was something that I could run as a standalone application (portable app) that could be executed, not only from my computer, but from a flash drive; PLUS, I wanted something where I could encrypt my files prior to copying them and making them resident in the cloud.

What I was finding that there are many encryption utilities out there; however, many of them I felt uncomfortable with due that they are not being actively updated and/or further developed. I wanted something that had weathered the changes in Windows operating system and was still being actively developed and promoted. As a matter of fact, TrueCrypt, one of the most recognized encryption utilities out there, recently experienced a setback and mysteriously vaporized leaving existing users wondering about the security of their data.

During my thought processes of all of this I remembered featuring on the blog (just over 2 years ago) a FREE encryption utility, called SafeHouse Explorer. Sure enough, after visiting and browsing the SafeHouse Explorer site, the software is still running strong and is current with Windows 8. They even offer a commercial version of their software.

After downloading SafeHouse Explorer and testing out the software, it was then I realized that with cloud storage being the thing, SafeHouse Explorer may have been ahead of its’ time when I first used it a couple years back. SafeHouse Explorer can be stored on the cloud where it can be downloaded and run from any Windows based computer. It also has the ability to create what is called self-extracting EXE encrypted storage vaults where you could encypt a bunch of files, package them as an EXE, and send them up to the cloud; THEN, when you need the files again you would download and run the EXE, enter your password, and the files are then accessible to you. If your cloud based service will not accept EXE files, simply upload the vault file

Following my testing of SafeHouse Explorer and using it in the various scenarious (i.e. as a portable app, as a cloud encryption solution) I can say SafeHouse Explorer is the way to go. My suggestion is to download, run and take the time to learn how SafeHouse Explorer works. You will not be disappointed:PLUS, you will gain the satisfaction that you have a solution in hand to protect files you store on the internet.

  • Complete full-featured stand-alone security solution.
  • Hides, locks and encrypts documents, spreadsheets, photos, videos and anything else.
  • Perfect for USB memory sticks and other portable media – even iPods!
  • Super strong 256-bit Twofish advanced encryption ensures your total protection.
  • Unlimited number of private storage vaults as large as 2,000 Gigabytes each.
  • Graphical password strength meter helps you choose strong passwords.
  • Can be run directly from USB memory sticks without prior Windows installation.
  • Can create self-extracting EXE encrypted storage vaults. Just click and run.
  • Fully-compatible with all other SafeHouse products and file formats.
  • Full version is 100% FREE and freely distributable. Never expires!

 SPECIAL NOTETo make SafeHouse Explorer a portable app, download the software and there is a feature in the software that makes it easy to transfer the SafeHouse Explorer program to your flash drive (or other portable media).


VIDEO – See SafeHouse Explorer In Action

 




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