Secude Secure Notebook
Strengths: Has most of the features of whole disk encryption products
Weaknesses: Documentation is scattered between many files and often the English explanations show German screen shots
Verdict: This product is difficult to configure and assumes a great deal of cryptographic knowledge. If you are not comfortable with cryptography, look toward the higher priced software, which offers easier installation and support
The Secude Secure Notebook has the ability to verify the user's ID through two-factor authentication, such as smart cards and USB tokens. The drive encryption product is broken into two pieces: the first provides the boot-time authentication, the other is responsible for the actual hard-drive encryption.
This product was unique in that the hard drive encryption software recommended encrypting only those clusters of the drive that had data on them, leaving the other sectors unencrypted. This speeds up the time for hard-drive encryption, but reduces overall data security.
The Secure Notebook has a unique feature that locks the keyboard during the booting process to stop an intruder from booting the system into safe-mode and attempting to bypass any of the security components.
At three hours, the Secure Notebook took the longest of the products that we tested to encrypt our 60-GB drive. However, once this was done, the Performance Test software reported no performance degradation.
Getting the USB token to work proved to be a difficult process. The software required for the token reader was not included on the installation media and was not available from the website. The software was needed to read the smart card used for the pre-boot authentication. Eventually we used password authentication and found the rest of the installation to be much easier.
The product creates a second Linux partition that is used as part of the pre-boot authentication process. Secure Notebook was the only product tested that created such a divide. However, the new partition was left in plain text and could be read from a bootable Linux CD.
Documentation for this product is in the form of four PDF files that are a bit difficult to navigate. Secude offers phone and email support, but very little in the way of online help. Better user guides and inclusion of a FAQ page on the support site, as well as a quick- start guide would be a bonus.
Priced mid-range, Secude provides many of the features commonly associated with whole disk encryption products.