private info protection

Discussion in 'other firewalls' started by kcvale, Feb 3, 2006.

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  1. kcvale

    kcvale Registered Member

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    HI,
    My computer runs Windows Me. I've been using NIS but I'm considering a switch to a free firewall. But some of the free versions I've seen don't offer specific protection of private information. I thought this would be an important feature. How is your private info protected in programs that don't offer this, like Zonealarm Free?

    Thanks
    kc
     
  2. trickyricky

    trickyricky Registered Member

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    Private info protection is just another layer of security which you can have to lessen the chance of damage if your system is ever compromised. I feel it's worth having but other people will shy away from it saying that it's too much trouble or that adding it adds to the resource use of the security measures on the PC and isn't justified in a risk/benefit sense.

    NIS incorporates it because NIS is a suite, whereas ZoneAlarm doesn't because it's a firewall, and a firewall's role is traffic control rather than safeguarding existing information directly.

    If you want to add that functionality to your PC, investigate something like TrueCrypt which can encrypt entire disk volumes, protecting them form prying eyes as well as from malware attacks that target specific types of file.
     
  3. WSFuser

    WSFuser Registered Member

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  4. kcvale

    kcvale Registered Member

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    Thanks for your help. I will take a look true crypt. I use internet explorer but I keep hearing about firefox. I guess I should take a look at it, too.

    Thanks again,
    kc
     
  5. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    That is also a part of my security setup in the future.
    Encrypting your harddisk and making your (stolen) files unreadable for everybody, seems to me an excellent protection in combination with ShadowUser, if it is done right.
    Unreadable for everybody is probably exaggerated, but you have to be very smart to break such an encryption and those who have that talent won't spend their time on files from an average home computer, because that wouldn't be smart. :)
     
  6. Using truecrypt to encrypt hard disk volumes is useful in the cases, where someone takes off with your whole hard-disk.

    But otherwise it provides no additional protection from keyloggers, trojans, rootkits though.
     
  7. trickyricky

    trickyricky Registered Member

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    No, but using it to encrypt a volume within your hard disk, such as a 10Gb data file or partition, which is only decrypted when access is needed, secures the files in that volume completely from virtually every kind of attack. The file is unlikely to be attacked by malware because it won't be a recognised data file, and no malware will be written to be able to decrypt such volumes, so I'd feel very safe indeed. True, key loggers and rootkits could compromise such a data volume, but again, only when decrypted by you, which may be very occasionally. It's still a darn site safer and more secure than most other protection methods available at the moment, in my view.
     
  8. I guess, we are thinking about 2 different methods. I'm thinking of whole disk encryption, where *everything* is encrypted.

    You seem to be talking closer to the idea of limited encryption of a file, folder, or even a partition of mainly data files. That's pretty much old hat, and the pros and cons of such methods have being well discussed.

    The file itself when encrypted is completely safe and unreadable of course (not from deletion though), but the problem comes when you need to decrypt it to do work. The problem shifts to knowing whether you are secure, when you decrypt. I submit that is as hard if not harder then knowing if you are secure..

    Then it's completely vulnerable, and even if your system is clean, you have to be careful that 'spare copies' don't turn up in your paging files, temp folders etc.. Or better yet place them in the encrypted volume too.

    That's why some people try full disk encryption, everything (or almost everything) is encrypted. But if you make the mistake of compromising the encrypted volume, say you are dumb enough to install malware on it, you have no additional protection.

    It occurs to me that The idea of using shadow user and this method is self defeating though.
     
  9. ErikAlbert

    ErikAlbert Registered Member

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    If some threat steals my encrypted files, they are useless for the thief.
    If some hacker reads my encrypted files, they are useless for the hacker.
    Only the files, which are open and decrypted are vulnerable.
    It's not perfect of course, but it reduces the chances significantly.
    It must be a very rare coïncidence that all conditions are fullfilled to read/steal an open/decrypted file.
    I'm just filling one of the holes of ShadowUser sufficiently and it won't be the last one.
    There are enough other softwares out there, that might be usefull in combination with SU. I just need to find them.
     
  10. feverfive

    feverfive Registered Member

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    Can anyone recommend a good encryption program only for encrypting files or folders (I don't want to encrypt an entire volume/partition)? Free would be nice, but I'm always willing to pay for something worthwhile...
     
  11. trickyricky

    trickyricky Registered Member

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    deviladvocate,

    Well, when you take an overview of security, no strategy can be perfect, other than possibly disconnecting your PC and locking it away in Fort Knox for the rest of time. (As long as you trust the other people who have access to the vaults...).

    So we have to strike a balance, and encyption can play a useful role, but only in conjunction with other security precautions. As you correctly said, it's no protection at all if your system security is compromised by a key logger or a rootkit. So encryption is another layer in the security "onion" which can be peeled away by attacks of one form or another.

    Bear in mind that protecting private information is facile if you protect it against prying eyes, then let it fall prey to some malware which destroys it without even bothering what it is. On the one hand, you need to secure it against being viewed by others and on the other hand you need to ensure its integrity. Each approach has a multitude of potential "solutions", each with its attendant cost, not least of which is increased complexity. If privacy and integrity of information matters to you, then some expending of effort in terms of maintaining those conditions doesn't seem unreasonable.

    I think that basically we've been saying the same (or similar) thing from different viewpoints.
     
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