CD security comes easy

EncryptEase lets you password-protect your CDs

EncryptEase

Performance: A-

Ease of use: A

Features: B-

Value: B

Price: $6.99 per disk; $27.95 for five

Reviewer's comments: An easy way
to write data securely to a CD. But security based on date doesn't quite work.

Contact: Ricoh USA Corp., West Caldwell, N.J., (800) 227-4264, www.ricoh-usa.com

Burning files to compact disk has become a popular way to disseminate information. Unfortunately, since anyone with a CD drive can access any disk they get their hands on, this medium has been ill-suited for proprietary or confidential files. To address this problem, Kano Technologies and Ricoh Corp. developed EncryptEase as a way to put encrypted, password-protected data on a CD.

EncryptEase incorporates Ricoh's Intelligent CD-R technology. When you insert a blank disk that incorporates EncryptEase, or try to open one with Windows Explorer, it automatically runs the EncryptEase software from the CD-ROM part of the disk. The opening menu is simple. Your options are CreateDisc (burn files to the CD), SelectFiles (retrieve files from the CD) or Exit.

When you click on CreateDisc, the software asks you to enter a password that will be needed to retrieve the files. You also have the option of setting start and end dates, before and after which the files will not be accessible. When you click OK, a window opens into which you can drag and drop the files you want. It also tells you how much of the available space you'll be using with this burn session. Once you're done, you click Burn to CD and the software does the rest.

It does take a bit more time to burn to an EncryptEase disk than a typical CD-R, because of the encryption process. This is more noticeable with larger files.

To get files off the CD, you click SelectFiles from the main menu and a window opens listing the files and folders that are part of the latest session. There are tabs so that you can access past sessions as well. If the date falls between the start and end dates for a file or folder, it will allow you to copy files once you supply the correct password.

The file navigation process is limited only to seeing what files and folders are on the disk, and copying them to the hard drive. You can't navigate subfolders or open files. While this may be a bit inconvenient, it's necessary to do it this way because a file or folder must be decrypted before it can be accessed.

The password protection is as difficult to crack as any other, provided the password itself is well-chosen. Unfortunately, the start and end date function is not as good a security feature as we'd hoped. We were able to defeat it by changing the date on our computer to one within the acceptable range.

Each EncryptEase disk can be written to up to 20 times, or until its capacity is reached. The password is chosen once, and remains constant throughout all of the sessions. Each of the past sessions can be accessed by clicking the appropriate tab in the Select Files window.

While a regular CD-R can hold about 640MB, an EncryptEase disk has a capacity of only 600 MB. The other 40 MB is taken up by software and drivers.

The price may seem a bit steep, but for the security it offers, it's not overpriced. EncryptEase would be helpful for anyone who has to carry sensitive data between locations, or send proprietary information through the mail. Just be aware that it isn't quite perfect.

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