Blowfish Password Protection

very good
key review info
application features
  • Create unlimited records, categories, and fields!
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Privacy and security are two of the most common problems that concern the world nowadays. Leaving your email account open while you are on a break or the door unlocked when leaving the house are the "do not do" practices.

There are some applications which create virtual desktops where you can do your job and safely lock them as you leave the desk, or some that can simply hide your files, folders and processes so well that no one can see them, and even the system administrator or Windows' Safe Mode. Unfortunately for the latter, I found workarounds like installing a Linux distribution which can bypass the security nets. In the end, my conclusion is that the best protection you can get is by using a software that encrypts your data so that no operating system would be able so see it using any possible methods.

Data Guardian is a trial application (license will expire in 15 days if not purchased) which creates multiple databases for safely storing information. There is also a Mac OS X version of this program (with Keychain integration for auto-filling passwords on web sites and Import Address Book feature), both using a Blowfish algorithm which can encrypt your data with a password up to 448 bits. At least this is what the publisher is saying; but because the source code is not available, the accuracy of this information cannot be verified.

Blowfish is a common block cipher, today known to be among the fastest ones, except when changing keys. Each new key requires pre-processing, equivalent to encrypting about 4 kilobytes of text, which is slow compared to other ciphers of its kind. This is useful in some applications, as the computational effort in finding the key is prolonged against dictionary attacks.

Data Guardian can be used for various purposes, as you can try it for a customers database, it can be a secure password manager or it lets you keep your journal just for yourself. Changing the view options for you to see only the desired information is easily done and, for more personalization, you can apply custom color labels and icons, or even add your own data fields.

If you are a novice, you will find the software a bit strange as it will take you about half an hour to understand how it works and what it actually does. To spare yourself from trouble don't forget to save and protect the newly created database with a password, otherwise if you leave the application, a XML unprotected file will be available for viewing and it can be easily changed.

There is no need for you to run away as soon as you see the File menu. It is not that complicated as it looks. Create a database so you can add a new collection of records. When the template is complete, you can save it under a unique name for later use. If data is already in the database but needs arranging, all you need to do is make a collection from the selected records. Save your work when leaving the computer, but encrypt the data as you go with a password using application's Blowfish cipher (up to 448-bit key strength), as nothing concerning security is going to alert you.

Due to UniqueID inconsistencies which might appear in a database, some unwanted behavior can cause a great deal of trouble, but this can be "cured" using the Rebuilt Database feature the program provides. Having a safe-copy of your data is one of the best ways of protection against loss, but as updates should be done frequently, synchronization between them is more than welcomed. This is done between two opened databases (defined as "older" and "newer") by removing, copying or ignoring records that don't appear in the new one.

When you finish with them, the software offers you the option to print the records in a wide variety of formats. You can define the paper size, orientation and margins, but the "printing experience" does not stop only here. In case you will have to send the data by post, you can print in standard format just with the fields you select along with the font, its style, user-customized color and size. Unless you have some #10 envelopes around, you are going to be redirected to Amazon.com for purchase. When all the work is done, just type in the Return Address for everything to be printed.

A good way for setting up the defaults is to check out the Preferences menu (from the Edit menu or the toolbar button). In the General tab you can define the modem INIT and Hangup strings in case you will be calling someone from your computer using this program via modem. Also, a Home Database can be set as default on application's launch. Data checking options are available as well as choosing date and time format.

For the records within the collection there are quite a lot of options waiting to be checkboxed. You can add a badge for private or locked records, or show a built-in floating Quick Browser when a database opens. As for viewing in the main screen, these records can have some or all the information displayed (some can be user-defined). Friendly for users with visual impairments, the program can show the collections' name enlarged and the records' font size is adjustable up to 48pt, the settings being applicable to all collections.

As for the security, the program features customizable templates for generating passwords automatically. More important is the possibility to add regular expressions in this template. Clipboard can be cleared at regular intervals, when exiting the program or when the database is closed. You can keep an activity log to monitor the changes your files have suffered, autosave database, or discard the changes and quit the application if it hasn't been used for a set period of time.

The software lets you edit, duplicate or remove the records. An interesting feature provided is Bulk Edit, where you can set options for two or more records at once (like label coloring and private or locked status).

Regarding the Import feature, the file can be added from a variety of sources like CSV databases, plain text tab delimited files, password wallet (manages your saved passwords and usernames) or vCard files (electronic business card that includes fields for photos, sound and company logos).

As for export, your first choice is a customizable TXT file sorted alphabetically, where you can include the records headers or choose the field and record delimiter. You can select as many fields as you like and their order can be modified by mouse dragging. HTML export offers other options like a personalized template choice, the adjustment of the image quality and the customization of the maximum number of records per page. Most welcomed is the fact that you are able to export your records to an iPod, or a vCard, and choose only the fields you like. Palm Export will be available in future releases, as this is the promise made by the publisher.

Data Guardian is a useful tool designed to encrypt your files in databases with a Blowfish cipher using strong dynamic keys of up to 448 kilobytes. The customization ratio is very high, with lots of features for your records. With cross platform compatible database format between Mac and Windows, the software can import and export data with no problems at all. The program's protection is not omitted, as it can shut down by itself if not used for a preset time period discarding changes, it can auto-save the databases and set to run as default with a password protected database at launch.

The Good

Data Guardian uses Blowfish cipher in order to encrypt databases and protect them with password. You can dial phone numbers through your modem, synchronize two databases, insert photos into your records or automatically log in to servers. It has a RegEx search function which enables you to make powerful searches.

You can generate secure passwords based on an algorithm of your choice. The program can auto-clear the clipboard, record the activity within a log file, automatically save the databases or log in to servers. If it is not used for a preset period of time, it can discard changes and auto-exit. The import - export features and customizable printing done in a wide variety of formats bring a nice touch to the application as a whole.

The Bad

Upon exiting, the databases are stored in completely unencrypted XML files, and no dialog tells you whether your data is safe or not. Encryption is added when you manually enter a password for the database currently in use.

Drag and Drop is not supported for the program's database files. There is about 30MB of memory for each opened file session, so you might reconsider working with multiple databases. Assistance menu comes in a HTML file format and cannot always answer your questions as it doesn't have index or search facilities. Some tabs (e.g. Preferences) can remain active even if the main application is closed.

The Truth

Not an easy-to-maneuver software because of its very complicated features. On the other hand, it is very complex due to its customizable level and its usability. The compatibility between the two platforms (Windows and Mac) and the Export to iPod and vCard feature make it an easy "spreadable" application, which can be used for the protection of a wide range of collections and records.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:


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user interface 4
features 5
ease of use 3
pricing / value 5


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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