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Top 5 encryption utilities

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(IDG) -- 1. SafeHouse: Many encryption utilities have a common weakness: They require you to remember too much. Not only must you remember your password, but you often must temporarily unencrypt your files before you use them and then re-encrypt them after you're done. SafeHouse is different because it works on a portion of your hard drive, not on individual folders. Once you create a "virtual drive," you can do anything with it that you would do with a normal hard drive, except the encrypted volumes require a password before you can use them.

The program provides 128-bit key encryption, which should ward off the most zealous hacker (it would take the famous "DES Cracker" machines approximately 149 trillion years to crack). The program does not compress files; it performs everything on the fly. If you're looking for a quick, no-hassle program to protect your files, SafeHouse is worth a look.

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2. WebCrypt 2000: Whether you're a photographer, a businessperson, or just a good-hearted soul who's put a lot of work into your Web site, this program will help you protect what's yours by encrypting the content on your Web site. It will encrypt anything between the <body> and </body> tags, while leaving other important things like meta tags intact.

In addition to encrypting your HTML, you can use the program's "no-right-click" script to prevent people from taking images on your site. Once you use the script, anyone who right-clicks one of your images will get the message: "Sorry, right-click-save is disabled on this site." You can also hide your links and JavaScript. An added bonus of encrypting the HTML on your Web site is that you stop spammers who use spiders to roam your site searching for e-mail addresses. So the program protects not only your privacy but also that of everyone who signs your guest book.

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3. SecurityPlus: As conscientious as you try to be in encrypting your Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, there are often traces of personal information left in your applications. SecurityPlus is unique in that it can encrypt applications, as well as data files. Once you set up a quick list of secured programs, you can then run them from within SecurityPlus. That way, you'll have no need to keep track of whether you've encrypted new files, since everything will be re-encrypted when you exit the program.

SecurityPlus operates quickly, so you won't find yourself waiting for even large files to be encrypted. The program supports 24 different file formats, and it also lets you decide how strong the encryption should be.

4. PrivacyMaker: There are lots of ways to protect your privacy on the Web -- you can, for example, clear your cache and flush your browser's history at scheduled intervals. Such steps can do a lot, but they're not failsafe, as you still might leave behind traces of where you've been, even if it's rooted in something as simple as your browser's autocomplete function, which fills out forms when you start entering text.

PrivacyMaker helps you avoid potentially embarrassing situations by creating a secure session when you log on to the Internet. All you do is enter your password before you get online, and the program takes it from there: All Web site memberships, URL addresses, and temporary Internet files are unavailable to others. The program isn't just for Web surfing; you can also use it to protect files on your hard drive, be they text, video, or audio. And the program lets you permanently erase sensitive files, leaving no traces behind.

5. GUIDESX Encryption Package 2001: Typically you encrypt files because you don't want others to see them, but sometimes you want to send someone an encrypted file. Most if not all encryption programs allow you to do so -- they vary, however, in terms of how difficult the process is. GUIDESX's most noteworthy feature may be its flexibility: Not only can you encrypt files for your own protection but you can easily create "self-decrypting" versions of your files that others can run without needing GUIDESX or any other software. The program includes a file shredder that wipes the contents of your original files. It also integrates nicely with Windows Explorer, allowing you to use Explorer's context menus and avoid having another window clutter your screen.



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