DistantKeys - Preview Edition

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by svenfaw, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    Even though this will probably only appeal to a small fraction of this forum's userbase, I would like to introduce DistantKeys: an easy-to-use deterministic key generator, primarily designed for self-discipline purposes. Use it to set the configuration password in NetNanny, K9 BlueCoat, etc once you are happy with your setup and are ready to "freeze" it.

    cmnTkVb.png

    Webpage: http://trax.x10.mx/apps.html
    SHA256: 36c30a3cc1c4972ef8438ff45946351520050cb7b71f77edf94962c07163e4c1

    Happy to answer any questions (I might take a few days to respond due to a rather busy schedule). Thanks for your feedback.

    Notes:
    • This is a preview edition with only the core functionality available. Some menu items are not implemented yet.
    • The default seedless mode is not security-oriented. Do not use those keys to protect sensitive data.
    • This version expires on July 31, 2015. However, early users will be able to request a free lifetime license!

    PS: This app will get a proper launch and webpage soon enough.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2015
  2. girioni

    girioni Registered Member

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    Hi, I'm a K9 user but I don't understand what's the use of this tool, and how to use it with K9?
     
  3. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    Sorry, I didn't see this reply earlier. Basically, if you want to lock down your K9 settings for the next 30 days, open DistantKeys, copy today's M-value, and set it as the new K9 admin password. M-values repeat monthly, so you would not be able to view it again in DistantKeys until 30 days from now. As the password is too long and random to remember easily, K9's settings are effectively frozen for a month, which can greatly help self-discipline.
     
  4. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    Version 1.66 Beta is now available for testing.
    MD5: 97003f0e3d695cb71154473bedcaf44d
    Size: 275KB uncompressed.

    dk166.png
     
  5. BruceFraser2

    BruceFraser2 Registered Member

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    Congratulations on an ingenious idea, and some nice programming! I got here from the K9 self-moderation forum.
    This tool will be exactly what I need, to block my access as Administrator. (I just discovered by accident that K9 has an easy bypass, but it can be blocked if Administrator access is also blocked.)

    Re: the expiry of July 31 (now more than a month ago). The program still produces keys. Does the expiry mean it won't produce the same key, a day/week/month from now?

    Re: "free lifetime licence": I guess that refers to commercial use licences, since your website says it's free for home/educational use. Is that right?

    Thanks again for your help in self-control.
     
  6. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    Many thanks for your feedback, very appreciated.

    An expired beta may indeed produce different keys, and it is therefore not recommended to keep using it in the long run.

    I will be releasing a new version later this month, which will introduce a simple
    simulator mode, so you can see how the generator repeats keys after a day, week, or month.

    Final licensing terms for this program are still to be determined, but early pilot users will get a free lifetime license in any case.
     
  7. zapjb

    zapjb Registered Member

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    I don't understand how this expires. Once a pw is entered don't you have to enter the old pw to change to a new pw? And what self-discipline to slap yourself on the hand to not change a programs settings?
     
  8. BruceFraser2

    BruceFraser2 Registered Member

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    Read again SvenFaw's instructions above, #3 in this thread.

    I'll try a more detailed description of the process.
    1) DistantKeys will generate a set of 24 random characters, 6 groups of 4 characters each.
    2) Let's say the program you want to block allows a password maximum length of 12 characters. Fine; just copy the first 12 characters from DistantKeys, and enter that into the program as the password. (If you already have a password, then change it to this new password.)
    3) Make all the changes you need to make in that program's settings (or play the game, or whatever), and then exit that program.
    4) Exit DistantKeys.
    5) Either shut down the computer, or copy some other text to overwrite the clipboard.
    Notice that you never saved the password in a file where you can read it; and there's no way you can remember those 12 random characters. Once the day is over, you're locked out of that program for the next week or month, depending on whether you chose a "W-value" or an "M-value." (If you chose the "D-value," then at the end of the hour you're locked out until the next day at the same time.)

    The only way to get into your program is to wait the week/month (or day), and then run DistantKeys again. It will pop up the same 24 characters. (You can run DistantKeys before then, but it will give totally different characters.) Make whatever changes are needed to your program's settings, then repeat above.
    I hope that helps.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015
  9. Techwiz

    Techwiz Registered Member

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    Okay, so I'm test driving your application. I password protected a text file called test with the password for the d-value. After existing distance keys and copying some other text to overwrite the clipboard. I relaunched distance keys and hit the refresh current values. It is displaying the previous key values, as tested by pasting the d-value back into the zip file and observing it unlock. Question: Is this intended functionality? This make it easy for a user to unfreeze an application or locked zip file without needing to meet the conditions imposed by distant keys. I thought maybe this was intended for quick access, in case of emergency, but the temptation of being able to recover the key values at any time defeats the purpose of this application for my needs.
     
  10. girioni

    girioni Registered Member

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    @Techwiz
    Actually the d-value changes once per hour, not as soon as you exit the program.
     
  11. Techwiz

    Techwiz Registered Member

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    Hey thanks, that is good to know, but now I'm more perplexed. I started testing about 6:30pm and was online pretty late until 1:30 am. I relaunched the application non-consecutively multiple times over this period and was able to recover the same d-value. After shutting down the system and booting up this morning, the value has change. Comodo firewall logged a registry change by the application, but did not report blocking it, nor should it since I allowed the change. I'm going to retest the application without comodo on my test system and see if I get a different result. Thanks.
     
  12. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    I've just released a new beta (1.70), featuring a very first (and rough) working version of the simulator mode. The simulator mode produces "fake" values by using the exact same key generation algorithm, but starting from a different seed. It is meant to demonstrate the way values rotate and repeat over time.

    Please note that this release produces different keys than older releases.

    See top post for the download page URL.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2015
  13. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    Could it be that Comodo is caching HTTP responses?
     
  14. Techwiz

    Techwiz Registered Member

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    Thanks svenfaw,

    I have been unable to reproduce the problem since the restart, even after I reenabled comodo. I'm going through comodo's settings to see if any of my global, application and port rules might be causing an issue and checking the firewall logs. Panda antivirus hasn't detected or quarantined anything and I have it configured to ask before neutralizing anything. I'm also reviewing the windows event viewer and checking the logs. The issue seems to be unique so far to this computer, as I have not had the same issue on another Windows 7 computer running Panda and Comodo. So my thought process was this might be a configuration problem, but something has changed since restarting. Overall, I'm not the type to let a bad experience on one system dissuade me from using an application. I'm very ADHD, so self-discipline is something that I struggle with and this is helping me me focus more on my studies, instead of accessing media content installed on my desktop. So I would like to say thank you for sharing this with the community. I'm not sure I would have discovered this application on my own unless it was published online on a site like Gizmodo.
     
  15. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    Glad that it helps. ADHD and self-discipline issues do usually go hand in hand. Hang in there!
     
  16. BruceFraser2

    BruceFraser2 Registered Member

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    Sven,
    I don't really understand all that. :>)
    In any case, I don't see any difference from version 1.66 to 1.70, at least in how they operate. The menu responses (or lack thereof) also remain the same.
     
  17. BruceFraser2

    BruceFraser2 Registered Member

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    Sven,
    Any idea when a trustworthy (i.e. out of beta) version will be available? The present one seems to be producing consistently identical results, when it's supposed to. But I'm taking your advice right now, and not using it to lock my system.
    Your answer may well be, "No, I have no idea when it will be ready." I've seen that by programmers in other forums, and it's a perfectly reasonable answer. It doesn't hurt to ask, though.
     
  18. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    Hi Bruce,

    To try out the simulator mode, just select "Testing Simulator" as the time authority and hit Refresh. Then you can play around with the time control buttons and see how they influence the generated values. Perhaps this feature will not be of great value to you, but I hope it helps new users get a feel of the way the program works.

    Untitled.png

    The menus are still inactive, indeed. Also currently lacking is any sort of documentation. I'm progressing slowly as I'm alone, with limited resources, and need to manage a few other projects too. Anyway, my focus is on reliability and getting a first stable release out within 2 or 3 weeks. As a way of rewarding early users, until then, a free lifetime license can be requested just by sending me a private message or email.

    Also, note that the application may get a new name in the future. I'm still thinking about that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
  19. BruceFraser2

    BruceFraser2 Registered Member

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    Sven,
    Ah yes, now I get it. Thanks for the explanation about the simulator. I never thought to look at the time source.
    What a great product!
     
  20. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    Version 1.74 is out, fixing a few minor and cosmetic issues.
     
  21. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    A little trick that may come in handy:

    We already know that D-values are accessible during a one-hour window every day.
    Likewise, W-values are accessible for a full day every week.

    What if you need something a bit more granular, such as a value that is only accessible on Tuesdays between 6pm and 7pm, for instance?

    In that case, the trick is to combine half a D-value with half a W-value, as follows:

    Capture.PNG


    So the desired value would be: a6c2.3a48.cd16.ba71.48a5.2531 - simple but effective.
    Hopefully someone will find this to be a useful idea. :)

    -
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  22. svenfaw

    svenfaw Registered Member

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    A new build is coming up soon, with HTTPS support and other internal updates and improvements.
     
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