Seeking app to hide files and folders

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grannyGeek
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Seeking app to hide files and folders

#1 Post by grannyGeek » Fri Sep 28, 2007 1:42 am

I need something a bit more sophisticated than using Windows Attributes to hide files and folders.

Google got me a ton of them, Softpedia has a half-ton, SnapFiles has a gunnysack full.
But, the ones that sounded interesting either are 5-year-old antiques, or have no comments or negative comments. So before I start testing, I thought I would ask if anyone here has any recommendations?

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m^(2)
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#2 Post by m^(2) » Fri Sep 28, 2007 1:44 pm

More sophisticated than windows attributes?
The only more sophisticated thing I can imagine is a rookit...
Do I miss something?

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FlightGeek
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#3 Post by FlightGeek » Sat Sep 29, 2007 2:41 pm

Without knowing your purpose in hiding files, it's hard to make a pin-point suggestion. With that caveat, here are my thoughts:

I would not recommend root-kit techniques unless you own the computer and, more importantly, you are willing to take the risk that your anti-virus program will delete the files for you.

I would suggest a Truecrypt container. While it won't hide the existence of "something" it will conceal what's in it. It would be like having something locked in a safe. People can see the locked safe, but they can't see whats in it. You can try to camouflage the truecrypt container (it's a file) by naming it something innocuous and/or putting it in an out-of-the-way place.

If you want to be more sophisticated, you can also put the Truecrypt container in a dedicated partition or put it in a NTFS "alternate data stream". However, computer security types will see these techniques as big red flags (not to mention the root-kit techniques).

Another technique is to use removable media. When you remove the media the file just isn't there any more. This technique may be "low tech" but it's very effective.

I combine the removable media and the Truecrypt techniques. My flash drive has Truecrypt installed in traveler mode, Truecrypt Explorer and the rest is a big Truecrypt container. When I unplug the drive the data disappears, and if the drive is ever lost or stolen, at least my private data is safe.

If this doesn't help, give us a better explanation of what you want and we'll try to help.

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grannyGeek
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#4 Post by grannyGeek » Sun Sep 30, 2007 7:23 pm

FlightGeek, TrueCrypt sounds like it might be my answer, but I am nervous about it.

I have to share a work pc that other users access on an inter-office LAN. The proprietary database program that we use requires all users to have admin privileges for it to operate correctly. This means that I don't have a private documents folder that nobody else can access, because we all have admin rights.

I had heard about apps that can hide a passworded folder from Windows Explorer, and thought that might be my answer. But after reading more reviews and such, that sounds like a shaky buggy way to go.

What worries me about TrueCrypt is reading forum posts from users whose data got corrupted and is now un-recoverable. That would not be a happy thing! I don't have earth-shaking data to protect, but do have memos and emails that I don't want everybody to read. (but I'd rather leave them unprotected than lose them.)
I know, "backup, dummy!"

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Andrew Lee
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#5 Post by Andrew Lee » Wed Oct 03, 2007 1:50 pm

I have been using TrueCrypt since its 3.x days, and I have only had corrupted data _once_ due to my own carelessness.

The only thing you need to remember is to properly dismount a removable USB device (both TrueCrypt and Window) before unplugging it. Otherwise you risk losing data.

If you are planning to create a TrueCrypt container on a non-removable HDD, I wouldn't worry about data corruption.

Anyway, backup, backup, backup. :)

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#6 Post by Gary » Wed Oct 03, 2007 3:31 pm

I second Andrew's comments, sans experiencing any corrupted data.

I use a file-hosted TrueCrypt container on a USB drive and keep a backup of that file on my local machine, using Dsynchronize to sync the two when both are mounted:

http://www.portablefreeware.com/?q=Dsynchronize

Works quite well...


--Gary :)

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FlightGeek
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#7 Post by FlightGeek » Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:36 pm

I also have used TrueCrypt since it's 3.x days in the following configurations:

File container on NTFS volume
File container on FAT volume
File container on network drive (hosted by Samba on FreeBSD)
A partition occupying an entire 60Gb USB hard disk

I have had no problems with data corruption. But I am careful to:
:arrow: Remember the passwords
:arrow: Dismount the TrueCrypt volume when done
:arrow: Select appropriate "Safely remove hardware" item when it's hosted on USB

And one more thing (at the risk of repeating what others have said): If you care about your data, back it up!

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#8 Post by Local » Wed Oct 03, 2007 5:02 pm

Another alternative that I find better than truecrypt is Private disk lite.

A great option with this is that you can have a shortcut that opens it automatically with the password and another to completely close it with one click each.

Obviously the first is only useful if you keep the shortcut itself on a usb ,or floppy even, but the container is fine on any drive.

I've always been worried about corrupting my data but have not had a problem with this yet.

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#9 Post by grannyGeek » Wed Oct 03, 2007 6:54 pm

Warning! Drive carefully! Dummy questions ahead!

I would need something that can run totally from my usb.
I read just a little bit about TrueCrypt some time back, and seem to remember that it requires that its drivers be installed on the host machine. True or false?

Admin rights or not, we can't install unapproved software.
Also, I do not have admin rights on my second work pc.
(you should see me with my stair-stepped keyboard drawers and two mice, 'specially when I end up typing on the wrong keyboard. Yeeeehaaaah!)

How about PrivateDisk -- is it stand-alone, or does it require drivers installation?

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Local
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#10 Post by Local » Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:35 am

From what I've heard too, truecrypt does install drivers, I believe that's the reason you need admin privileges to use it.

As far as I know private disk doesn't need drivers installed.
I'll test it out when I can (my only pc without it installed fully has killed it's HDD)
Worst comes to the worst you can just create your virtual drive on at home then take it to work just using the app to open it when you want to access it.
It opens it up just like a new dirve.
The only problem with the light version is though, you have to give the container a drive letter.
I usually use S or R 'cause I've not (yet) known anybody use those drives.

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grannyGeek
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#11 Post by grannyGeek » Thu Oct 04, 2007 12:51 am

Virtual drive, hmmmm ....
My home pc is all the way up to drive "P" now because of multiple pre-installed card-readers, 3 external drives, 2 flash drives, and 2 external burners (one burner died, but the drive letter won't).

I think I'll just download PrivateDisk and start fooling around with it tonight. As long as I test with non-critical data files, what's the worst that could happen? I blow up my pc? nah, never happen.


Thanks for helping to clarify. Hope it works, crossing my fingers.

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#12 Post by Local » Thu Oct 04, 2007 1:57 am

Good luck, just keep a look out for the smoke from the psu lol

I thought I was bad with drives, Mine only go up H then W to Z
I let my externals take what they want when they want it, ...

Heh, just realized that's only my laptop. oops.
I think I'm a port hog too


Have you tried killing your drive letter from disk management?
Just choose no letter for the drive and it "should" free up the letter for you

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FlightGeek
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#13 Post by FlightGeek » Thu Oct 04, 2007 4:56 am

It depends on what you mean by "install".

Truecrypt in "traveler mode" does not put anything on the hard disk of the target computer. The driver is loaded from removable media and unloaded when all volumes are dismounted. Loading a driver requires administrative privileges. Truecrypt also allows you to use a "key file" instead of (or in addition to) a password.

If you don't have administrative privileges you can use TCExplorer to access your encrypted data. It will run fine with "normal" privileges but requires that you copy the data out of/in to the container rather than abstracting it as a drive.

Might also want to check your rules again. At the company I work for the rule says that we must not execute unapproved software on company computers.

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#14 Post by Andrew Lee » Thu Oct 04, 2007 5:14 am

How about PrivateDisk -- is it stand-alone, or does it require drivers installation?
The last time I tested it, I was pretty sure it installs a driver and requires admin rights to do so.

Actually, knowing how things work, I would be pretty surprised if an app that creates a virtual drive does not require driver install/admin rights.

I think both TrueCrypt (in traveller mode) and Private Disk Lite installs the driver on-demand, and removes it when they terminate.

TCExplorer does not create a virtual drive, so no driver is needed.

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#15 Post by grannyGeek » Thu Oct 04, 2007 5:39 pm

:(

Yup, confirmed. PrivateDisk does require admin rights.

I created a virtual drive on my usb on a pc with admin rights.
When I try to open and run PrivateDisk on pc without admin rights, message "unable to load PrivateDisk drivers. Probably you do not have sufficient admninistrative rights ....."

Back to the drawing board.

Probably I will have to go to straight encryption of individual files and folders. I didn't want to, because the three apps I tried all change the Date & Time Stamp to the current time&date of the encryption process --- it does, after all, create a new "replacement" file.
I've tried dsCrypt, Remora USB Disk Guard, and one other I can't remember name of now. This is really an unacceptable behavior, because sometimes the file creation date is vital ---
inspectors can say "you just created that pencil-whipped file yesterday, didn't you". Using a utility to adjust time&date would be the answer, but makes things very cumbersome.

So, does anyone know of an encryption utility that preserves the file's original Date & Time attributes?

If not, I will have to go to just plain passwording, and all that does is make someone open it as "read-only" and save a copy with a new name.

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