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Steganos Safe…


If your computer gets stolen, it’ll cost you to replace it, but that may be the least of your worries. You can bet the thief will comb through your files for credit card numbers, account passwords, secret documents, or anything at all that could be monetized. The cost of losing that data could be way more than the cost of a new computer, but you can minimize that collateral damage by using encryption to protect your sensitive files! Steganos Safe makes creating secure, encrypted containers for your sensitive files simple, and it offers some uncommon advanced features.

For $34.95, $5 less than when I last reviewed this product, you can install Steganos Safe on up to five PCs. This is a one-time fee, not a subscription. You only pay again if you want to buy a newer version. Folder Lock and Ranquel Technologies CryptoForge cost about the same, while Cypherix PE and CryptoExpert go for $45 and $59.95 respectively. These are also one-time prices, but they just give you a single installation. The five-license package that Steganos offers is a distinct bargain.

In addition to this standalone product, Steganos Safe is an integral part of the full Steganos Privacy Suite. This suite also includes Steganos Password Manager and other useful tools.

What Is Encryption?

Throughout history, kings, queens, and generals have needed to communicate their plans in secret, and their enemies have toiled mightily trying to crack their secret communication systems. A cipher that simply replaces every letter with a different letter or symbol is easy enough to crack based on letter frequency, so old-time cryptographers needed something stronger.

France’s Louis XIV used a system called The Great Cipher, which held out for 200 years before anyone cracked it. Father-son team Antoine and Bonaventure Rossignol conceived the idea of encoding syllables rather than letters, and letting multiple code numbers represent the same syllable. They also included nulls, numbers that contributed nothing to the cipher. And the use of syllables from the French put yet another obstacle in the way of foreign code breakers. But even this long-unbroken cipher pales in comparison with modern encryption technology.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), the US government’s official standard, runs blocks of data through multiple transformations, typically using a 256-bit key. Bruce Schneier’s Blowfish algorithm should be even tougher to crack, as it uses a 448-byte key.


Whatever the size of the key, you must transmit it to the recipient somehow, and that process is the weakest point in the system. If your enemy obtains the key, whatever its size, you lose. Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) cryptography has no such weakness. Each user has two keys, a public key that’s visible to anybody and a private key that nobody else has. If I encrypt a file with your public key, you can decrypt it with your private key. Conversely, if I encrypt a file with my private key, the fact that you can decrypt it with my public key proves it came from me—a digital signature.

Getting Started With Steganos Safe

The Steganos encryption utility’s installation is quick and simple. Once finished, it shows you a simple main window that has two buttons at top, one to create a new safe and one to open a hidden safe. In this context, a safe is just the name for an encrypted container. New since my last review, you can choose from light, medium, and dark versions of the modern or classic user interface. Screenshots in this article use the default modern light appearance.

Steganos Safe Main

When a safe is open, it looks and acts precisely like a disk drive. You can move files into and out of it, create new documents, edit documents in place, and so on. But once you close the safe, its contents become totally inaccessible. Nobody can unlock it without the password—not even Steganos.

Most encryption tools that use the encrypted container model work like Steganos, meaning an open container looks just like any other disk drive. NordLocker is an exception. You can only copy files into the locker, and getting back a plaintext version requires an export operation. On the plus side, NordLocker has a secure sharing system built right in.

Like Editors’ Choice tools CertainSafe, AxCrypt Premium

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