Tools for the paranoid: 5 free security tools to protect your data

Tools for protecting passwords, browsing anonymously, and encrypting our most precious documents.

By Erez Zukerman, PC World |  Security

Tor Browser Bundle is a portable, self-extracting package that contains a special version of Firefox, along with an application for connecting to Tor. Extract the bundle, double-click "Start Tor Browser," and the connection window comes up and steps through an initialization sequence. You don't have to do anything; just wait a moment while the progress bar fills up. As soon as a secure connection with Tor is established, Firefox loads, and you can start browsing.

Since Tor routes your data through so many layers and random endpoints, it's not exactly blazing fast. Then again, most of us don't live under a regime that makes Tor a necessary part of our daily browsing routines. For occasional use, it's an elegant solution that manages to simplify a complex security system down to a double-click.

For hiding information in plain sight: OpenPuff

Steganography, or hiding messages in plain sight, is a storied practice dating back to ancient Greece. In modern practice, steganography means taking a media file such as an MP3 or a JPEG image and burying data in it. The file still works as usual, and if you don't specifically look for the hidden data, you'll have no idea that the encrypted information is even there. In other words, you could hide an important text message in an innocent image file, and then post that file publicly online. Another party could then download the file and--using a steganography tool and a password that you both shared in advance--process the file and extract whatever information you've buried in it. One good tool for this purpose is OpenPuff, a powerful open-source steganography application that supports a wide variety of "carrier" formats for hiding data, including MP3, JPEG, and more.

By default, OpenPuff asks you to protect your information with three different passwords, although it does let you dial that down to just a single password of your choosing. It even supports plausibly deniable encryption, and this is where things get really paranoid: Even if someone somehow realizes your seemingly innocent image or music file contains a hidden message, OpenPuff lets you hide a decoy along with the real message. Simply provide a different password, and the other person will extract the decoy out of the image, thinking they've won--but actually, your real secret will still be hidden in the file.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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