SecurPC encryptor handles job but is slow with larger files

SecurPC encryptor handles job but is slow with larger files

By Jason Byrne

GCN Staff

Can you keep a secret? With Security Dynamics' RSA SecurPC, you stand a much better chance.

Originally developed by RSA Data Security Inc. of Redwood City, Calif., but now sold and supported by Security Dynamics after a merger, the tool brings file encryption down to the users themselves.

Although each user creates an encryption key using a pass phrase, the administrator can install a back door for emergency access. Users can have multiple trustees, ensuring data protection without blocking access to those who might need it. Should you forget your pass phrase, the administrator can reset it.

The software installs easily. It needs a random number generator for encryption and requires random entry of letters and numbers and mouse movements to seed the random number engine. That's no big deal, but I was somewhat surprised to be told to pound any old keys and move the mouse around during the installation.

Once installed, the product does not act as a separate application but instead integrates itself with the Windows Explorer interface. This provides transparent encryption and decryption for the most part. Any folders in the AutoCrypt list are automatically encrypted. Individual files and folders can also be encrypted manually by a right mouse click selection.

Users can encrypt all files on their hard drives and network drives. Encrypted files can even be shared with users who do not have SecurPC: Simply give them a special shared secret pass phrase. The shared phrase lets others see encrypted files without knowing your private pass phrase.

I noticed one odd thing right after installation. I made an AutoCrypt folder and was surprised to find I could read the folder contents from other computers on the GCN Lab network.

Box Score ''''''''

SecurPC 2.0.3

Desktop and notebook file encryptor

Security Dynamics Technologies Inc.;

Bedford, Mass.;

tel. 800-732-8743

Price: $59

+128-bit encryption for end users

+Enterprise administration of policies and data access

'Slow performance with some large files, especially graphics

'Automatic default to decryption of shared files

Real-life requirements:

Windows 9x or NT, Pentium processor, 32M of RAM, 2M of free storage

Consulting the manual, I discovered that autodecryption is enabled by default on AutoCrypt folders and all other encrypted files and folders. I'm not sure why this option is the default. But with it disabled, you can share a folder of encrypted as well as unencrypted files without having to worry about unauthorized access to sensitive data.

All in all, the user experience is quite smooth. To check the encryption status of any file or folder, right-click on it and look at the Properties window.

Encryption was quite speedy with document files, but other types, especially large graphics files, took an exceptionally long time. The slowness affected not only the opening and closing of certain files, but also something as simple as checking their properties.

As an impressive solution for desktop and notebook computer file security, SecurPC seems to have fallen through the merger cracks. It would be good for protecting sensitive data on mobile platforms vulnerable to unauthorized access.

Too bad its corporate parent isn't giving it more promotion.

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