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File Encryption

What is Encryption?

SafeHouse uses a technology known as encryption to provide the industrial-strength protection for your files. Encryption is the process of scrambling files and data based on passwords and special keys. This scrambled data can later be returned to its normal state using a companion process known as decryption.

This may sound complicated, and indeed, it is. In fact, it's the same technology used by governments and seen in many spy movies.

The good news is that SafeHouse does all this work in the background. You'll never need to know anything about encryption to use this product.


If it's completely transparent, why mention it?

Now that we've mentioned that you don't need to know anything about encryption, you might wonder why we've even brought it up in the first place. The reason is many people want to know which technologies are used under the hood. Like the anti-lock brakes on your car, you may not know or care how they work, but you do know that they're good to have, and you might only buy cars that have them.

You should only use data privacy products which are based on strong encryption! And don't be fooled. Password protection is not the same as encryption. You already are using passwords to log into Windows, but these passwords are not protecting your files from being snooped. Maybe you already know this -- which is why you're looking into SafeHouse.

Why Windows Passwords are not Safe --

Many people are under the misconception that their files are safe from snooping because they log into Windows using a password. Although this password seems on the outside to be protecting your files, that's not really how things work.

Windows files are not generally encrypted with your password. Anyone with access to your computer could easily remove the hard drive and plug it into their own computer and gain instant access to all of your private information. And they won't even be asked for your password.

SafeHouse cures this problem!

Why can SafeHouse's Encryption be Trusted?

Encryption is complicated stuff. Fortunately, it's a stable technology which is used all over the world in millions of products. The programmers behind SafeHouse did not invent any new encryption methods which might be subject to scrutiny or challenge. Instead, SafeHouse incorporates proven, industry-standard encryption algorithms which are in common every-day products and have withstood the test of time.

In fact, SafeHouse uses some of the same encryption technologies that you already use on a daily basis when you make credit card purchases over the Internet. You've probably come to look for that familiar lock icon in your browser before daring to enter your credit card. We do pretty much the same thing for files. Think of it as merely repackaging.

How Strong is the Encryption?

The encryption strength of the algorithms built into SafeHouse are some of the strongest available in the commercial world. Most experts agree that the time to crack a 128-bit encryption key using a brute force attack is longer than the entire history of the world, or longer. A brute force attack is one where all possible key combinations are tried until one is found to work. As such, the reality is that this is not how a determined intruder would attempt to gain access to your files -- the seemingly- infinite number of mathematical combinations makes this approach all but impossible.

Dictionary Attacks

A more likely way a knowledgeable intruder would try to get at your files is with what is known as a dictionary attack. This is where they try thousands of strategically-chosen passwords to see if you might have used something like a birth date, pet name or word from the English dictionary. Since people tend to be predictable or lazy in how they choose passwords, this kind of attack has a reasonable chance of succeeding when poor passwords are used.

SafeHouse Professional helps protect you from dictionary attacks by including its own internal 250,000-word dictionary of common words and phases. If you choose a password which is found in this database, the password strength meter will remain completely red to warn you that the password is extremely vulnerable to attack.

Other Human Factors

Given the strength of modern-day encryption technologies, the truth is that most intruders are well-aware that trying to break the encryption is generally pointless. Dictionary attacks have merit when short passwords are used, but the easiest breaks of all are based on human factors. People invariably write passwords on sticky notes taped to their machines, or write their PIN codes on the back of smartcards. Computers are left on and unlocked when people go to lunch. And unfortunately, there's always the threat of violence. More often than not, intruders find that exploiting the vulnerabilities of human behavior is the fastest path to your data.

Which Encryption Standards does SafeHouse Support?

We've tried to spare you the details, but if you really need to know, below is a list of the industry-standard encryption technologies which are incorporated into SafeHouse.

SafeHouse Personal Edition and SafeHouse Explorer always use 256-bit Twofish encryption when creating new private storage areas; however, they easily recognize and support the other available encryption methods available in our Professional edition when used to open files originally protected using the Professional edition.

SafeHouse Professional Edition defaults to using 256-bit Twofish encryption, however, you can choose amongst the other methods when creating new private storage areas.

Special Note

SafeHouse Explorer has the ability to use the same encryption methods as SafeHouse Professional Edition when deployed alongside SafeHouse Professional using a custom installer. See our administrator's manual for more information on this topic.