Guarding your Privacy 

While ensuring that your computer is protected from outside nefarious influences is a recommended approach, sometimes you do need to take further precautions regarding the use and security of the data residing on your system.
Steganos Privacy Suite

Offering to provide various forms of protection is Steganos Privacy Suite 2008 which brings together nine tools covering different aspects of privacy.  Once installed, and you do have the choice of which tools are included, Steganos Privacy Suite 2008 will need to be activated via an Internet link and the entry of a 39-character product serial number.  The various tools can be accessed from a front-end menu that divides its functionality into areas that cover encryption, anti-theft and data destruction.  As the mouse cursor hovers over each of the tool, so an appropriate brief description will appear.

The encryption section contains six of the tools led by Safe and Portable Safe.  These two tools allow the user to set up password-protected encrypted areas for holding sensitive data.  Unlike the standalone version of Safe, with its limitation of 256GB capacity limitation for each protected area, the Suite version of the software can give up to 512GB of capacity depending upon system resources.  Passwords can be character-based or a picture sequence using PicPass technology.  Providing similar functionality, Portable Safe enables the creation of protected areas on USB devices or optical media.

Rather than provide a protected secure area, the Steganos File Manager works by hiding its encrypted data in a carrier file.  This carrier could be an image or sound file.  The resulting combination of the original and additional data should not affect the normal operation of the host file.  Private Favourites lets you select those favourites that you wish to remain private and have the data encrypted.  You still retain a normal favourites list while hiding specific items in a password-protected encrypted list. 

Emails and attachments can be encrypted and send via your email client.  The message is sent as a self-decrypting file that requires the password to be opened and read by the recipient.  This feature works seamlessly when using Outlook Express and it should integrate with other email clients.  The Password Manager will not only encrypt and manage your passwords but also generate ones for your own use.  This software can be set up to automatically enter your password details when you access protected sites.

Removing data is the task undertaken by Shredder and Internet TraceDestructor.  Shredder works by overwriting data so that the underlying content is unreadable.  The overwriting can be carried out once, three times or the rather extensive 35 times used by the NSA compliant Gutman method.  Internet TraceDestructor is a history removing tool that gives the user control over the items to be removed.  In this way you get to keep the information you want and loose any you wish to be removed.

The final component of this suite is an Anti Theft function.  While this will not stop a thief from walking off with your computer, it could help you regain your property.  Once registered with Steganos, this feature will automatically transmit a record of its IP addresses used by the system to a dedicated log on a Steganos server which could help locate the missing computer.

While this product covers a range of features for protecting your data, it does have one weakness.  Surprisingly, for a product with its range of tools, the accompanying Manual Book (perhaps mini booklet would be a better description of this 8-page A5 document) concentrates its contents on the installation.  Any help regarding using the various tools is conspicuous by its absence.  Fortunately most of the tools are relatively easy to use.

Steganos Privacy Suite 2008 requires a Pentium processor running Windows 2000 (SP4) or later with 256MB of RAM and 100MB of hard disk space for the initial installation.  Officially priced at around $70 from the manufacturer I've found the Steganos Privacy Suite in the UK for £29.98 :


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