Steganos – Security Suite 4 review

security and encryption utilities
Photo of Steganos – Security Suite 4
£39.99

We reviewed a (much) earlier version of Steganos here. Although the original core idea – the ability to hide documents and other sensitive information inside other files – has been retained, many new features are available in the Security Suite that were not present in the earlier product.

In fact, Steganos Security Suite 4 is very similar to McAfee PGP Personal Security 7 in terms of general features. At its heart is the idea of strong encryption, designed to keep out prying eyes and keep your data secure from hackers, competitors, government snoops and anyone else who could potentially profit from your personal information. Steganos Security Suite 4 uses 128-bit AES and Blowfish encryption, which makes it as secure as anything else on the planet. It’s unlikely to be cracked until such time as quantum computers become a lot more stable and powerful.

That encryption engine is used as the basis for several different applications within the Security Suite. One of the most important of these is the ‘safe’, a means of setting up a virtual hard drive on which all your data is encrypted. Enter the correct password and the safe is opened, letting you access your data via the drive letter. Click the icon to secure the safe and the drive disappears, with all your data securely encrypted so that even if your PC is stolen, nobody will be able to access it.

Encryption can also be used to send and receive e-mails. You can either do so between two users who have the Steganos Security Suite installed, or you can send data to people without this product by packaging it up as a secure file. All the recipient has to do is enter the correct password to read the message. This is a little more clumsy, as the data is sent as an executable file. Given the prevalence of e-mail viruses, such messages may be deleted automatically by some ISPs, but there’s no real way around this until such time as encryption is enabled by default in all mail clients.

On the subject of the Internet, you can also use Steganos Security Suite 4 to remove traces of your browsing patterns (cookies, cache, history, etc.) from your PC, using the dramatically-named “Internet Trace Destructor”. Nothing you can’t do manually, but it saves a bit of effort, as does the Password Manager, a password-protected application that will store all the other passwords that you need to remember. We’re not sure that this is such a good idea – passwords are better kept in your head – but it’s certainly safer than writing them down on a piece of paper.

Other tools include a file-shredder, which removes all traces of files rather than just deleting the filename (which is what most operating systems do), and there’s the Steganos File Manager, which does what the original product did; it lets you hide documents inside graphics and audio files. The target files themselves aren’t changed, so you can still view picture files or listen to audio tracks, but Steganos can find and extract the hidden data, which is also encrypted for good measure. A ‘lock computer’ option, for preventing access to your PC when you’re away on a tea break, completes the package.

Company: Steganos

Contact: 020 7221 4600


Verdict
As readers of our editorials will know, encryption and privacy are two popular topics at IT Reviews. Steganos Security Suite 4 has the admirable aim of making encryption easier to use, so it already appeals to us. More importantly, it largely succeeds. The setup time is minimal, the amount of 'user overhead' is low and there's no need to mess around with public/private keys. If you value your data, it's well worth a look.