Free SecurityManager does DES encryption for Windows

Free SecurityManager does DES encryption for Windows

By Joel Sparks

Special to GCN

Lightweight, downloadable SecurityManager 99 freeware wastes no time encrypting Microsoft Windows files under the federal Data Encryption Standard

The application is a little rough around the edges, however, and it lacks the transparent integration available with other security software and Windows 2000.

Installation took less than five minutes, but starting SecurityManager required getting past a start-up screen, from which the buttons inexplicably disappeared. Afterward, I got a prompt to enter a log-in name and password.

Unlike many security programs, SecurityManager has no administrator mode or back door. If you forget your chosen password, encrypted files will be unrecoverable.

The prompt for user name and password appears every time SecurityManager opens. Entering a different name would let another user who shares the computer do file encryption separately.

Box Score '''''''''''''

SecurityManager 99

Version 1.01

Fast, no-frills file encryptor

Ashampoo; Oldenburg, Germany;

tel. 49-441-93379-0

Price: Free download from 0-10105-100-1400260.html

+ Fast DES encryption for Windows files

' No administrator capacity or back door for lost passwords

' No integration with Windows file management

Real-life requirements:

Win9x or NT, Pentium processor, 32M of RAM, 3M of free storage

Passwords are case-sensitive: Typing 'Bobby57' when the password is 'bobby57' will not work. That nugget of information, buried in the help file, ought to be placed on the log-in screen.

Encryption and decryption operations both use a Windows Explorer-like interface. It's easy enough but not polished. The Invert Current Selection doesn't work as it should, for example, and there are typos in the dialog boxes, such as 'Decryting.'

What's more, there's no password confirmation for decrypting files. You cannot leave SecurityManager open and walk away from the desk'anyone could decode your files.

Foibles aside, SecurityManager works fast. Even a 1M graphics file took less than five seconds to encrypt on a 266-MHz system, and decryption went just as fast. The encrypted files took up no more space than the originals.

Curiously, files don't show when they've been encrypted. Double-clicking on one of them launches the original app instead of prompting for a password to decrypt.

Some applications will open their encrypted files to reveal hashed contents; others do nothing. The only way to decrypt a file is to launch SecurityManager first and open the file from there.

This lack of transparency is confusing and makes SecurityManager a poor choice for beginners or multiuser environments. Its speed and power cannot make up for that limitation, and many users will dislike the absence of a back door. SecurityManager is free, however, and the respected DES does hide file contents effectively.

Joel Sparks, a free-lance reviewer in Silver Spring, Md., has been a government lawyer and database programmer.

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