Dekart Private Disk
Strengths: Ease of use, innovative features, robust encryption
Weaknesses: A comprehensive manual would be nice
Verdict: An interesting and capable product at an attractive price
Dekart's approach to encryption is innovative, albeit using accepted standards where appropriate. The company offers a range of useful security-related products and utilities, within which Private Disk plays an important part.
It is a small footprint program that provides data encryption in a seamless manner, as many other products claim, but offers further useful functionality.
The concept of a disk firewall is particularly interesting, providing application level access control, whereby a whitelist of trusted applications is maintained within the encrypted disk area. If an application not on this list tries to access any protected file, it will simply be blocked.
This not only guards against malware but, with judicious use, may also prevent file copying or other manipulation of data - a simple and effective idea. Also interesting is the ability to run Private Disk directly from portable media, allowing access by authorised users even when using a different PC - again, a simple and effective approach that many users will find useful.
As for the encryption itself, AES 256-bit algorithms are used, and SHA 512 hash algorithms are used for key generation. Thus, the core functionality is based on established standards.
Private Disk is flexible in its application and can work with a broad range of portable media, including USB sticks, flash memory cards and indeed almost anything that can store data. This flexibility allows the user to conceive and configure the type of protection best suited to their own working situation in a straightforward and intuitive manner.
This is an important factor. If configuration and operation are too complex, users are likely to become frustrated and fail to make full use of the benefits offered. Private Disk is logical, intuitive and easy to use by anyone.
For those inclined to paranoia, Dekart also claims that, due to its origins, Private Disk contains no "back doors" or government-induced escrow keys to allow decryption of your data by the authorities.
For developers, a Private Disk SDK is available. All in all, this is an interesting, effective product that offers very good value for those looking for encryption in an easily managed manner.