Lavasoft is a company well known for their flagship product Ad-Aware, one of the early software programs that dealt with spyware and adware threats. In 2007 they switched focus from solely developing the anti malware product, into more mainstream tools such as a personal firewall, file shredder and an encryption utility.
The fine folks from the company recently shipped us a couple of registration keys for their products, so here is a review of the crypto part of their portfolio – Lavasoft Digital Lock.
The application installs without any hassle and after successful activation, it is ready to be used. The graphical user interface is easy to follow, with all the software options located in the left menu. From the user perspective, Lavasoft Digital Lock is a rather simple tool – it can be used for encrypting and decrypting of your sensitive data.
Before you start working with this utility, you should browse a bit through the Settings screen which doesn’t offer much customization, but you can chose one of the four encryption algorithms. BlowFish is there by default, but with a click of mouse you can switch to 256 bit AES-standard Rijndael, 256 bit Twofish and 480bit SafeIT.
To start encrypting your files you can just add the selected files via the GUI, or you can drag-and-drop the files onto Lavasoft Digital Lock icon on your Desktop or in the quick launch toolbar. There you just need to supply the password (minimum 8 characters recommended) and the files will get encrypted.
I came across a potentially serious issue with the file integrity check validation, that occurred in the following scenario: I was encrypting a quite large file from my external DVD-ROM. As I am the guy that likes to break stuff, while the encryption process was going on I switched off my DVD-ROM device as I wanted to see what kind of error I will be getting. I was unpleasantly surprised that the application didn’t have a problem with this – it just acted as the whole file was processed and gave me a congratulation note. The newly created encryption file was created, but of course while I decrypted it, the file was corrupted.
This thing happens when you switch off any removable media the source files are located on, but the scenario cannot happen in case you are using internal CD/DVD drives, or for instance you try to delete the source file from your computer during the encryption process. When I am talking about bugs, I came across another issue – When the encryption process is actively running, the user has the option to abort it. The abort key didn’t work for me as the application would just look like it is hanging, but the encryption process would go on like nothing happened.
The application creates and stores the log files relating to each of the crypto process you deploy with it. The logs are saved in HTML format and can be accessed through the application interface, as well as by browsing into the appropriate folder inside the Program Files. Also, after any successful operation, you have an option to shred the current log file.
One of the things I liked about Lavasoft Digital Lock is that it offered ways of decrypting for users that are not registered (paying) users of the software. There are two different ways files can be decrypted. The first one is that Lavasoft offers a free decryption tool that you can share with your fellow peers, so they can decrypt the files you send them. The application has the same look as the decryption screen inside the Lavasoft Digital Lock.
The other way is to create self-extracting encrypted files. By using this option the software will encrypt your source file(s) and afterwards create .exe program that can be started on any Windows machine and be used for automatically decrypting its contents. A nice touch in this procedure is a configuration option which changes file extensions (file.xls.exe -> file_xls.exe) so your data doesn’t end up in some antivirus filter.
I just need to mention one nifty detail – while encrypting a large quantities of textual (and other) data, you will be interested to know that the software also sports an auto-compression utility which does wonders to the file size.
Overall, Lavasoft Digital Lock is a useful utility for securing your private data.