capsule review

FileGuard 4.0

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While users in business and residential environments are busy shielding their desktops from network-based hacker invasion, they might be overlooking another potential danger: the hands-on attack. Intego's FileGuard 4.0 stops this sort of illicit interloper by applying password protection to any file, folder, or disk you choose. You can also use it to apply encryption so powerful that forgetting the password is the same as throwing the file away.

FileGuard doesn't protect anything until you set it up. After installation, you select the disks, folders, and files you want to protect; you then specify the desired level of protection. FileGuard also lets you control access to the entire machine, and it can start a password-protected screen saver when the Mac is idle for a preset amount of time. If you share your machine with others, you can set up users and user groups, each with unique access privileges--a feature much more secure and precise than OS 9's Multiple Users. We were unable to defeat the password protection, even when booting from an external drive or other start-up disk.

FileGuard automatically helps protect new files as you create them. When you save a new document, FileGuard lets you choose to secure it either with a simple password or with one of four progressively more impenetrable encryption algorithms: FastCrypt, DES (Data Encryption Standard), Triple DES, and IDEA (International Data Encryption Algorithm). FastCrypt encrypts even large files in mere seconds, while IDEA can take many minutes for multimegabyte documents.

FileGuard automatically decrypts documents when you open them, and it reencrypts them when you quit their application. FileGuard also distributes a portable decryption program with protected files, applications, and volumes, so you can share disks and documents securely even with non-FileGuard users. A file-shredding feature permanently erases files so completely that they cannot be recovered using disk utilities such as Disk Doctor in Symantec's Norton Utilities.

The program worked as promised in testing. However, some features are not well documented, and Intego's technical support is extremely slow to respond.

Macworld's Buying Advice

FileGuard provides sophisticated protection for every taste and virtually bulletproof encryption for ultrasensitive information. It's one good way to tightly lock down your Mac, aside from bolting it to your desk.

Spy versus Speed: Intego's FileGuard 4.0 lets you choose a level of encryption, from the less-secure but quick FastCrypt to the CIA-proof but slower IDEA.
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