Encryption Software and Privacy Protection

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Protect your privacy with encryption programs.

You may be able to disguise the fact that anything is being hidden, by concealing the nature of the file, or even by hiding one file in another. You certainly should name any of your secret files as something totally innocuous. Calling them Secret Bank Account is a real bad move.

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Psion Security Protection
Hiding Information
Encrypting Files
More Material

Psion Security Protection

A moderate degree of protection is built into the Psion. This is certainly sufficient to protect your secrets from being read by your kid sister. It is not designed to withstand scrutiny by government security agencies.

The first thing to consider is physical security. If no-one else can get at your Psion, and you never leave it unattended, you automatically have a fair degree of protection. If privacy is important to you, this should be your first line of defence.

You can partially protect data on your Psion internal drive by using a start-up password. This facility is built in to your Psion, and is available from the Control Panel. This only gives protection to data in the internal memory of the Psion. It does not offer any protection to data in a backup copy on a PC. It does not protect data on a Compact Flash once that Compact Flash has been removed and used in another computer.

The quality of protection provided by the system start-up password is unknown. There is a publicly known attack using a specially prepared CF card. Details (and a patch to prevent this) are available at www.psionwelt.de/programm/english.htm

Even if you do not need any data protection, you should still set a system password. Just set it so that is it never asked for. The reason for this is that it prevents anyone else from accidentally or deliberately setting a system password that would lock you out. They would need to know which password you have already set before they could change anything.

If you wish to have a system password on all the time, you may find it inconvenient to input it every time your Psion switches off for a few seconds. There is a freeware program called Locker that allows a user defined delay between switching off the Psion, and the password being enabled. If you set it for say ten minutes, then switching the Psion on before ten minutes are up will mean you don't have to enter the password.

You can password protect some individual files, and these will be converted into a format that can't be opened by your Psion without the password. This facility is only available within some of the individual Psion applications, including Psion Word, Sheet, and the Symbian text editor, but not within Data or Agenda.

You can embed a password protected Psion Word file in a Data file. You can access and change that Word file by selecting Edit within the Data application.

Hiding Information

Information can be hidden. While just making a file hidden is unlike to protect it for long, you can put information into places that are normal hidden, like system areas, log files and so on. You can hide information within files that appear to be for some other purpose.

Silan hides data in the least significant bits of the Psion Record application audio files. You can even convert these files to a PC WAV file and back without losing data, although this is not recommended). The record file will play back as a normal sound file. Naturally, you should also encrypt files before you hide them. You should also ensure the sound file has some purpose in being on your machine, so that it is not suspiciously alone. silan102.opo 27kb Mar 1999 Formerly www.village.ch/~aeschbacher/silan.html

Encrypting Files

If you need increased security, then you must use encryption technologies. However even if you use a method that can not be broken, you may find a court could order you to unlock the encryption, or possible other pressures could be applied.

There are various levels of security, which depend upon the quality of the encryption algorithm. Many of these products are only intended to enhance privacy, not to protect against serious attack. Also, many do not protect a file that has been saved elsewhere. I have not attempted to evaluate the security of any of these products.

A new encryption software (2001) for EPOC machines. It uses Blowfish algorithm for encryption and also supports batch encryption of the files. They also have available a Blowfish.opx This is a shareware product costing US$12. http://www.novateh.com
The freeware OPL program CodeSafe by Huub Linthorst saves two fields of information (it is intended for software codes), but is not secure if you let it create a file for backup. Test Report: It appears to work as advised, but not having a secure backup worries me. OK Tested: CodeSafe.SIS 141kb May 2001 Ver 7 website.leidenuniv.nl/~linthorsthjm/
Freeware by Philipp Salvisberg. Using 256 bit RC4 to encrypt data as a file, no batch support but will autolaunch. Can auto delete the source files. More features than Freecrypt. It also includes a version for the PC based Psion emulator. crypto.SIS 233kb Feb 2001 www.salvis.com/cgi-bin/twiki/view
Shareware application by Peter Csutora, does batch of multiple files and has good speed. Two modes, 256 bit RC4 work alike, 128 bit Safer SK. Will wipe free space on Psion memory. encrypt.SIS 216kb May 2001 www.pocketiq.com
A freeware OPL program, a little slower than Crypto, and using RC4 algorithm. Source code is provided so you can translate it yourself and confirm there are no backdoors. freecrypt.app 4kb July 1998
Pascal Nicolas. Freeware. Probably running under Macro5. Allows different machine level passwords to the once a day or at switch on options. locker.SIS 5kb Oct 1999 Formerly http://pnicolas.epocboulevard.com
Password program that will lock Psion after a speified period of time has passed. Freeware. Formerly http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Pines/1215
PGP Pretty Good Privacy
Solid encryption, in beta May 2000, and naturally very slow on a Psion. PGP may be the only cross-platform encryption utility. Note that EPOC PGP keys are not compatible with the latest version of PGP available for Windows (I think it is a version 2 vs version 6 style problem). You may be able to set the PC version to use RSA encryption, and that may work. pgp.SIS 502kb Feb 2000 Try http://www.pgpi.org/products/pgp/versions/freeware/epoc/ or www.apps4mobiles.com/pgp/index.html
RC4 Encryption
Application from www.geocities.com/silicon_psychosis
Palmtop Software (now TomTom) kindly produce a slick freeware application similar to Data, tailored specifically for storing Credit card info etc. Uses the Blowfish encryption. Has templates for different types of entries. Possible disadvantage is there is no export facility for moving data. safeplace. SIS 145kb Dec 1999

Additional Material

There have been articles on encryption in www.palmtop-pro.com"> Palmtop-Pro Magazine, advises editor Boris Michael von Luhovoy. Most are in German.

You can find material on the Blowfish and other algorithms plus other security topics at www.schneier.com/blowfish.html

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