3 March 1998

Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 04:13:28 -0500 (EST)
From: andrew fabbro <afabbro@umich.edu>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Hard Drive Encryption Packages Comparison (Win 95)

	Windows 95 Hard Drive Encryption Packages Comparison

  by Andrew Fabbro <afabbro@umich.edu> 
  3 March 1997

I've had several requests to post this to the cypherpunks list, and I'm
also posting it in the newsgroups where I originally asked for software
suggestions.  This list only compares FEATURES -- I have not done any
independent analysis of these products' claims and have not even tried
the evaluation copies of all of them.  This was originally just for my
own reference -- I've cleaned it up a bit but it isn't exhaustive, or
necessarily fair.

I'm sure there are other packages-- if you think I've left something
significant out, please let me know.  I'd also appreciate any
corrections or giggles at obvious errors in thought.

After getting some feedback/corrections, this will eventually be put on
the Web.


I am just a Doc-Martens-and-earrings cypherpunk, not a security
consultant!  I am not a professional cryptologist, nor a Windows 95
expert.  You should NOT take my opinions at face value -- you should
evaluate these products yourself.  This list is just designed to give
you some starting points and save you some leg work.  Of course, I take
no responsibility, make nor warranties, blah blah...


These packages all provide interface functionality beyond the simple
file-by-file encryption available with, say, PGP.  Either they provide
a drive interface or they allow you to designate a list of files which
are then transparently or automatically de/encrypted in some fashion.
If you have only a few files or anticipate only temporary or infrequent
de/encryption, then PGP or something similar would probably suffice.

I've separated this list into two categories using my own made-up
terms: Virtual Volume programs and File List programs.  VV programs
make a large file on your hard drive which is transparently available
to Win95 as a drive (similar to the way DriveSpace/DoubleSpace works).
Once you authenticate and mount the drive, everything else is

With File List programs, you designate a list of files or folders that
you want encrypted.  The encryption package then en/decrypts these
either on-the-fly as you access them, or in bulk at boot-time/
shutdown-time.  Most offer individual file/folder manual operation as
well.  Unlike Virtual Volume programs, which pretty much all operate
the same way, there is a greater variation in interface with File List
programs, so evaluate closely before purchase.

In practice, the difference between Virtual Volume and File List
programs is not that great: you type your password once at login and
everything else is handled by the software.  The only difference is
that with File List programs, you have to designate files or folders,
which might be a more frequent task than designating a single drive.
On the other hand, all of your sensitive files may live in only a few
directories anyway, and File List programs let you place these
files/folders anywhere on your system, mingled in with non-encrypted

There were a few packages which appear to operate in a truly manual
mode -- you decrypt before opening and then encrypt when you're
finished with the file (assuming you don't forget, or become lazy).  If
you're going to do this, just use PGP, which is likely already on your
system already, you little cypherpunk, you, and offers CAST, IDEA, and
Triple-DES.  Packages with manual-mode operation are under
"Manual-Operation Packages" at the end.  Norton is so vague about the
operation of "Your Eyes Only" on their web page that it is listed in
this section.

"Preview" refers to an evaluation copy-- if one is available for
download (be it crippleware or whatever), this field is marked Yes.


I'm still evaluating, but will likely settle on Kremlin.  Even though
virtual volumes seem easier to me, Kremlin has one must-have feature I
haven't found elsewhere: it addresses the Windows swapfile issue.
Windows' swapfile has raw hunks of memory swapped out to disk, which
which could contain anything from any open file.  These swapfiles are
not reliably deleted at shutdown-time, or in the event of a system
crash, and in any event Windows certainly doesn't securely (DoD-style)
delete them.  Some snooper with a boot disk, file recovery utility, and
hex editor could stop by and read previous memory images...talk about
data leakage.

None of these packages allow you to encrypt the swapfile while Windows
is running, but Kremlin's Sentry does the next best thing.  At
shutdown-time, it securely deletes the swapfile and other temp files,
wiping the drive DoD-style.  The fact that Kremlin's design was
obviously thought out from the perspective of an integrated platform
and took this issue into account gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.  Also,
Kremlin offers the most diverse array of algorithms and has some nice
extras, such as a secure Recycle Bin, which is easier to use than
having to remember to run a special secure delete command from the
context menu.  And it's only $35!

If I were administering a site-wide encryption program, I might choose
something that was designed for that environment and offered more
administrative options.  I've made notes on packages which address this
situation and its issues.


BLOWFISH was specifically designed to be fast in software
implementations on 32-bit processors and would likely be the fastest
algorithm you can pick.  I've not noticed any lag when using
BLOWFISH-based systems on a 486-66 w/32MB RAM (hardly a fast machine).

Some publishers only specified a "Genuine RSA Encryption Engine,"
displaying a RSA-licensed logo.  This isn't snake oil, but I'd sure
like to know more about the crypto.


Product      : BestCrypt
Manufacturer : Jetico, Inc.
Type         : Virtual Volume
Crypto       : BLOWFISH, GOST, DES
Features     : timeout close, hotkey close, secure delete
Cost         : $89.95
Preview?     : Yes - 30 day trial, after expiration, volume becomes read-only
Web          : http://www.jetico.sci.fi/np_new.htm
Notes        : Joel McNamara (Private Idaho's author) picks this for
	       his Cryptobook specification (see
	       http://www.eskimo.com/~joelm/cryptbk.html).  A
	       completely free and very well-designed DoD-spec file
	       deletion utility is available at Jetico web site, too,
	       as a separate freeware package (BCWipe - get it!)

Product      : SafeHouse
Manufacturer : PC Dynamics
Type         : Virtual Volume
Crypto       : BLOWFISH, FAST, DES/Triple DES
Features     : Configurable passwords/expirations, optional key recovery,
               C++ developer's toolkit available.
Cost         : $79.95
Preview?     : Yes - free trial version with 40-bit DES
Web          : http://www.pcdynamics.com/SafeHouse/
Notes        : key recovery is optional- you can choose to "brand" the
	       volume or not.

Product      : Private Disk (in beta)
Manufacturer : Private Data, Inc.
Type         : Virtual Volume
Crypto       : Not specified - "strong" versions for US/Canada
Features     : 
Cost         : not listed
Preview?     : Beta participation program
Web          : http://www.privatedata.com/
Notes        : I mention this only for die-hard cypherpunks who want
	       to try new toys and might be interested in beta


Product      : Kremlin
Manufacturer : Mach5
Type         : File List
Crypto       : CAST, IDEA, BLOWFISH, RC4, Safer SK-128, DES, and NewDES
Features     : Automatic Decrypt/Encrypt at Login/out, includes a secure
               text editor/e-mail package, secure Recycle Bin, Sentry
               program to automate swap/temp/other-file wiping.
Cost         : $35
Preview?     : Yes
Web          : http://www.mach5.com/kremlin/
Notes        : This is a very nice package and my personal pick -- see
	       my notes in the intro.

Product      : RSA SecurePC
Manufacturer : Security Dynamics, Inc.
Type         : File List 
Crypto       : RC4
Features     : Trustee threshold key recovery system, boot lock, screen lock,
               network support, password expiration/rule management
Cost         : Not listed, and I was too lazy to make a phone call to find out
Preview?     : Yes
Web          : http://www.securitydynamics.com/solutions/products/securpc.html
Notes        : The key-recovery system is very well-thought out and
	       involves trustee thresh-holds -- i.e., you can decide
	       that three (or seven or whatever) administrators'
	       signatures are necessary to recovery a key...prevents
	       malicious admins' snooping.  The admin support (for
	       site-wide usage) is also nice.  This product was
	       formerly published by RSA, who now licenses it to
	       Security Dynamics.  This looks like a very well-designed
	       package with many extras for group-use situations,
	       though more crypto options would be nice.

Product      : SecureWin
Manufacturer : Cipher Logics 
Type         : File List
Crypto       : RSA Public.  No further details were specified.
Features     : SecureWin is more of an integrated security environment
	       than just a hard drive encryptor -- it also includes
	       secure deletions, e-mail integration, a password keeper,
	       etc.  There is an extensive access-control facility.
	       Operates via a "secure Start menu," a taskbar add-on.
	       Network support.
Cost         : $29.95 
Preview?     : Yes - 30 day evaluation download.
Web          : http://www.securewin.com/ 
Notes        : Very well done from a user interface point of view and
	       has numerous cool add-ons.  I wish more information was
	       given on the crypto and its implementation.

Product      : F-Secure Desktop
Manufacturer : Data Fellows
Type         : File List 
Crypto       : Triple-DES ("168-bit"), BLOWFISH
Features     : 
Cost         : $99
Preview?     : No
Web          : http://www.datafellows.com/f-secure/desktop/
Notes        : Normally, you specify a set of folders/files to be
	       de/encrypted at login/out.  Alternatively, you can list
	       files as "Top Secret," which means you must manually
	       de/encrypt them via context menu.

Product      : DataGuard
Manufacturer : Secure Services Link, Ltd.
Type         : File List
Crypto       : IDEA, SEAL
Features     : extensive class-based access control, trustee-threshold
               key recovery system
Cost         : $69
Preview?     : No
Web          : http://www.sls.net/dataguard_v2.html
Notes        : The class-based access control lists appear to offer
	       highly configurable access control: classes of data
	       (e.g., workgroup or by sensitivity or whatever), with
	       access rights offered by right to select users.  You can
	       also set "minimum eyes" thresholds for groups-- e.g.,
	       all members or certain members must be present for
	       access to be given.  Encryption or decryption rights can
	       be separated.  This would be very nice for site-wide
	       situations, except...the basic package does not offer
	       network support.  "Pro" and "Net" packages which do are
	       slated for April '98 release.


Product      : SAFE Folder
Manufacturer : GlobeTech Catana
Type         : File List, Semi-Manual
Crypto       : BLOWFISH
Features     : 
Cost         : $58.75
Preview?     : Yes - password fixed to "DEMO"
Web          : http://www.globetech.se/safe/
Notes        : From the web page, I infer that you have to manually
	       de/encrypt files.  It can operate at a folder level,
	       which is at least some improvement over file-by-file
	       operation.  I didn't see any reason why this product
	       would be better than any of those listed above.

Product      : Your Eyes Only
Manufacturer : Norton (Symantec)
Type         : File List, Manual?
Crypto       : It uses a "Genuine RSA Encryption Engine".
Features     : boot-time lock, screen lock, uses context menu,
               network support
Cost         : $89.95
Preview?     : No
Web          : http://www.symantec.com/yeo/index_product.html
Notes        : I couldn't tell if this operated in some sort of
	       transparent or automatic fashion like other file list
	       programs, or if you had to encrypt/decrypt each folder
	       manually.  A screen shot shows a user using a context
	       meny that has "Enable SmartLock Folder" and "Disable
	       SmartLock Folder," which implies some non-manual mode of
	       operation.  E-mail to Symantec asking for more
	       information (and details on their crypto) went
	       unanswered.  There is also an administrator's version of
	       this program.

Product      : Stealth Encryptor
Manufacturer : Tropical Software, Inc.
Type         : File List
Crypto       : BLOWFISH, DES ("64-bit")
Features     : installable crypto modules (via .DLL, development kit 
               available), secure delete, e-mail integration
Cost         : $34.95
Preview?     : Yes
Web          : http://www.tropsoft.com/stealth/
Notes        : This package's unique feature is its support for
	       drop-in crypto modules.  Theoretically you could write
	       your own .DLL with another crypto system of your choice
	       and Stealth Encryptor would integrate it.  If you have a
	       burning desire to do this, you might look into this.  SE
	       also features "Stealth Media Encryption" which is "super
	       speed" for image files, executables, etc...presumably
	       with weaker crypto.

Product      : SecureStore 
Manufacturer : Selom Ofori
Type         : Manual
Crypto       : BLOWFISH, DES/Triple-DES, CAST, RC4, Diamond2 
Features     : 
Cost         : $30
Preview?     : Yes
Web          : http://www.freeyellow.com/members/renegade/
Notes        : SecureStore creates archives into which you can
	       place files.  From what I saw on their web site, to
	       access aid files, you have to pull them out of the
	       archive again.  While the screen shots show some nice
	       displays (e.g., which crypto used, compression ratio,
	       etc.), this mode of operation does not appeal to me.

Product      : Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)
Manufacturer : PGP, Inc. (well, Network Associates now, I guess)
Type         : Manual
Crypto       : CAST, IDEA, Triple-DES
Features     : Too many to list.
Cost         : Free
Preview?     : Yes
Web          : http://www.pgp.com/
Notes        : Listed just for the sake of completeness.  And it's
	       not at all bad for manual encrypt/decrypt -- version 5.5
	       has a nice toolbar and tray interface.  But you'll want
	       it for all the other messaging features anyway...