To paraphrase an old saying, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone's not after you. Or your files.
Whether you are paranoid or just being cautious, a company called International Software Solutions wants to help. It offers a product called iProtect, a Windows-based software utility that can, with a couple of clicks, lock, encrypt, hide or shred files right on your desktop computer. iProtect keeps them confidential and prevents accidental deletion.
"It's a good little tool for the end user," says Diana Kelley, senior security analyst at the Hurwitz Group.
ISS has just released iProtect version 1.4. In form and function, it hasn't changed much since the original release a year ago, says Ken Johnston, one of the directors of the company in Northern Ireland.
What ISS has done is made registration easier for customers and included an Update Wizard so they can stay abreast of developments.
"We really have put iProtect to bed with 1.4," says Johnston. "I think we really have a very, very stable product now."
When They Say It's Gone…
iProtect's main features haven't changed. The utility protects documents of all kinds--word processing, spreadsheets, Web browsers, etc.--on multiple levels. Files can be locked, which means no one can open them without the correct password; files can be hidden, which means the files are invisible to viewers and even program utilities, like Windows searches; files can be encrypted, which encodes any chosen files using a 448-bit encryption algorithm; and files can be shredded, which wipes any selected files off an entire system--permanently. Shredded files cannot be recovered, by any means.
"Once something is gone," says Johnston, "it's gone forever."
The company stresses that there are no backdoor entrances should you forget your password, either. "That's one of the risks," says Kelley. "If it wasn't that way, someone else could do what you would do to recover it."
The program downloads and installs in minutes and is easy to operate, without instruction.
"We've tried to create something that's very user friendly," says Johnston. "It's easy to get around and it's incredibly effective."
A Growing Market
While there are a lot of other programs out there with password protection, encryption, and shredding capabilities, they're going to be getting some competition soon from Microsoft, whose Windows 2000 operating system will include those features, Kelley says.
"What that is going to do to companies already out there, I think, it's going to give them a run for their money," she says. "It's going to change the marketplace."
iProtect can be purchased online for $79.95. A fully functional 30-day, 100-use trial version is also available for free at the company's Web site.