Monthly Archives: March 2008

Free encryption software (3)
Hard disc encryption

Truecrypt[Update Nov. 11, 2014: The Truecrypt developers no longer support this product]

Since version 5, released on February 8, 2008, Truecrypt can encrypt an entire drive or partition, including the one that contains the operating system installation. Truecrypt’s implementation of strong drive encryption is particularly impressive. Listen to Security Now episode 133 for more information. Finally high quality free open source software is available for encrypting an entire hard disk. I immediately encrypted my Laptop’s hard disk. Continue reading

Free encryption software (2)
File encryption on USB flash drives

Free encryption softwareI am a PGP user since 1996 and I still use Ståle Schumacher’s international DOS version 2.63i to encrypt files on my USB flash drives. All I need is PGP’s small exectutable file (pgp.exe, 237.737 kb). On first use, PGP will create a second small file that contains some random seed data for the encryption. With this minimal setup, PGP will warn you about a missing configuration file, but this does not affect the strength of encryption. The USB drive on my key ring contains an encrypted passwords file and pgp.exe, providing easy access to the many cryptic passwords I use. All I need is one strong master pass phrase to decrypt the file and get instant access to more passwords than I could ever remember.

I insert the USB drive and open a command prompt window (Start > Run > cmd).

PGP file encryption:

pgp -c filename

PGP file decryption:

pgp filename.pgp

PGP 2.36i in action

In conventional -c encryption mode PGP uses a symmetric block encryption algorithm (IDEA) with a key size of 128 bits. Together with a good pass phrase this is really strong encryption.

Don’t forget to securely delete the plaintext file afterwards:

pgp -w filename

Since this version of PGP was developed for DOS, it only supports 8 character file names (8.3).

PGP 2.63i is still available from Ståle’s pgpi.org site  [download].

Back in 1996 I contributed the “self-sign FAQ” to the PGP community.

Other Flash drive encrytion options for Windows, Mac and Linux

Many different free and commercial PGP versions and clones are available. See pgp.com, pgpi.org, and gnupg.org. I still use PGP 2.63i because it is an easy-to-use lightweight program that provides strong encryption and can be put on any device by simply copying one small file.

Truecrypt in “Traveller Mode” can be used to create an encrypted file container on Flash memory. Truecrypt is free and provides super strong encryption, too. However, you need to have administrator privileges on all machines that you decrypt the container on. I’m not an admin on my machine at work but need access to the passwords on my keyring there, too.

Some USB drives (SanDisk, Kingston, IronKey) have hardware encryption built in, but when it comes to encryption, I prefer to stay away from proprietary implementations.

Free encryption software (1): Introduction

Free encryption software (3): Hard disc encryption

Free encryption software (4): GNU Privacy Guard

The mobile Web (1)

Walter Soldierer’s blog on a mobile phoneMost mobile phones have some sort of Internet access built in. However, not many owners of mobile devices use them to surf the web. There are several obvious reasons. First of all, carriers still charge too much for internet access. The WWW user experience on mobile phones is variable, to say the least. Access fees will go down, and I am sure that mobile flat rates will be the predominant pricing model soon. It will take some time though until most mobile phones belong to the 3rd generation and until mobile web standards are sufficiently well defined and implemented to support consistent web page rendering on the mobile web. Continue reading

Solarerträge vergleichen

SolarfördervereinSeit Juni 2004 speist unsere Photovoltaikanlage Strom ins Netz ein, ca. 3.500 kWh pro Jahr. Es stellt sich die Frage ob das verglichen mit anderen Anlagen oder Regionen viel oder wenig ist. Zum Glück gibt es einen Service, der einem diese Frage beantwordet. Der in Aachen ansässige Solarenergie-Förderverein Deutschland e.V. (SFV) betreibt auf seiner sehr informativen aber auch sehr kritischen Website ein Programm zur bundesweiten Ertragserfassung von PV-Anlagen. Continue reading