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Alarm People like nosing around. People like to go through other people’s stuff. Whether they are your family, friends, colleagues, or some anonymous guys in a basement in Japan, it’s something you want to avoid.

Whether it’s because you like your privacy or you think you have a reason to ‘erase your tracks’; in the end it’s all the same.

Luckily for you and I there are apps that can help you protect your privacy and your files, i.e. erase your tracks and put a nice big lock on all of your stuff.

You might also want to see 8 Firefox addons for Privacy and Security Keeping Safe on the Web: 8 Firefox Addons for Privacy and Security Keeping Safe on the Web: 8 Firefox Addons for Privacy and Security Read More as well as 5 disposable web accounts to keep your identity safe 5 "DISPOSABLE" Web Accounts to Keep Your Identity Safe 5 "DISPOSABLE" Web Accounts to Keep Your Identity Safe Read More .

Erasing Your Tracks

CCleaner

CCleaner is a name you’ll probably recognize 10 Most Downloaded Free Security AND PC Care Programs 10 Most Downloaded Free Security AND PC Care Programs Read More (it has been mentioned numerous times on Make Use Of). Over the years it has made quite a name for itself. If you ever saw a list of apps, anywhere, to speed up your PC, chances are good CCleaner was in there. Henceforth it has always been mentioned in terms of tweaking.

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But how does it wipe your PC? Well, it deletes the history/cookies/cache of your browser, clears the memory of various applications (like Nero and Office) and tidies up your system by deleting Windows Explorer cache, empties the recycle bin, sweeps your clipboard and much, much more.

This makes it the perfect cleaner. And even more so, you indeed get a faster computer by tidying up! (note: CCleaner can only delete internet browser files from Firefox, IE and Opera)

CCleaner

Securely Deleting and Encrypting Your Files

Encrypt Files

Although the biggest dirt is gone, you might still have some “˜things’ left on your PC which are “˜your eyes only’. This could be credit card details, your obscure tapes (if only Paris Hilton would’ve had this”¦) or other personal files. If you really want to delete something, like as in “˜unrecoverable’, you need to shred it. Basically it deletes your file and then uses a bunch of algorithms to write over the empty space again and again until it is impossible to find what once was there.

So it’s a shredder? So what? What makes this one so special?

True. It doesn’t even let you chose the number of passes. But unless you’re extremely paranoid you’ll realize that you don’t need 35 passes (NATO uses 7 passes, the US Department of Defense 3). If you think otherwise, check out Wipe File.

The beauty about this one is that it’s part of a bigger suite. Except from deleting, you can also encrypt files.

Encrypt Files

That brings us up to the next step – protecting the files you do want to keep. “˜Encrypt Files’ is very simple to use. You pick one or more files and press the “˜encrypt’ button, hereafter you will be prompted to give up a password. You wait a few seconds and the files become completely useless. That is, for other people. Using the “˜decrypt’ button, the same password and again, a few seconds of your time, the file is quickly back to its original state.

Paranoia mode: ON

KeyScrambler

OK, it’s time for a little bit of paranoia (keeps the mind sharp). What if you deleted all your auto-passwords, secured all your files and some idiot with a keystroke-logger gets all your “˜well-kept’ passwords practically handed to him? Indeed, that would be a bummer.

When you’re typing inside your web browser, KeyScrambler codes all your keystrokes, making them impossible to read for a keystroke-logger. KeyScrambler even shows you what the logger gets to see (which looks real slick – showoff factor: 73%).

KeyScrambler

Locking Up

Unlock Platinum

Locking up your computer by using the Windows ‘Log Off’ and ‘Switch User’ options is OK, but it has some downsides.

For starters, anyone with an administrator account can still access your account. If you are a sub-user or are on a computer with multiple administrators, a password doesn’t mean all that much. More so, when you can never really know who attempted to access your account. This is a major problem as people can guess away without consequences.

Lock Platinum solves both these problems. It’s a standalone app (an executable so you don’t have to install it – it will even work on a guest account) and it locks your computer, trapping the mouse inside a small centered screen and disables the task manager and all other key combinations like ALT + TAB, ALT + F4, etc.

On top of that, it also records all attempts to penetrate your system. As you click on ‘Stats’ you can not only see when someone typed a wrong password, but also the exact password they tried. Want to know if you can trust someone? Tell them a wrong password and see if it turns up. I would advise using the first version though. Having tried all three, the last two seemed rather unstable (the unlocking window constantly hid itself with version 3).

Unlock Platinum

OK, so that’s it. If you think you know (better) alternatives to this software, please feel free to plop a comment below!

(By) Simon is a student from Belgium who wastes his time relaxing, watching anime and surfing the net. He would tell you to check out his blog, only he doesn’t have one!

  1. Encryption Software
    October 27, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Ccleaner is an important application for me on my work computer. I tend to stick to the work that is assigned to me during the day but every once in a while I get an RSS feed that intrigues me to the point of reading the entire article on cnn.com or some other site. To ensure that my boss or a security advisor does not get the wrong impression of my work habits, I use Ccleaner. When I leave work, I am confident that the work I did during the day will be kept private in my own memory and not on my computer.

  2. Bakz
    November 19, 2008 at 4:06 am

    Also check out Flexcrypt folder for easy-to-use file-encryption
    flexcrypt.com/flexcryptfolder.html

  3. Nebojša
    August 29, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Very thanks for review of my program Lock Platinum! As a author i would like to get some advices from you for my next software. Greetings from Serbia!

  4. disconnect
    June 18, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I'm a fan of eraser (freeware/open source)

    tolvanen.com/eraser/

    "Eraser is a secure data removal tool, which allows you to remove sensitive data from your hard drive by overwriting it with carefully selected patterns. "

  5. Aibek
    June 18, 2008 at 8:49 am

    I alos recommend recently mentioned RU Botted. This nifty app watches your system for malicious activities and alerts you as soon as it detects something unusual.

  6. Christopher
    June 17, 2008 at 9:20 am

    CCleaner has a built in file shredder. In the options>settings you can set it for 1, 3 or 7 passes and it will shred the files as it cleans.

  7. Demosthenes
    June 17, 2008 at 11:19 am

    I have been a die hard fan of ccleaner for over a year but just found something better. Try ncleaner: nkprods.com/ncleaner/

  8. Simon
    June 17, 2008 at 1:00 am

    One of my major concerns is a little app I found (about a1MB, would fit on any USB-drive), which takes just a few seconds to generate a list of all your passwords stored on your computer! This includes the passwords stored in Firefox for every site let the pass be 'remembered'.
    I always thought my passwords were stored in a safe place, but this app made me think otherwise. After that, I tried out some other password software, but I felt frustrated using most of them. These days I try to remember my passwords myself instead of storing them on my computers.

    • Karl L. Gechlik
      June 18, 2008 at 11:33 am

      And what would that application be? Um for uh.... Research purposes of course :)

    • Simon
      June 20, 2008 at 8:16 am

      I think it was called "Portable Multi Password Recovery". I don't think it's very legal to use on other computers than your own, so that 'research' will be your own responsibility ;)

  9. Sean
    June 17, 2008 at 12:31 am

    Is there a way to encrypt or just password protect an entire directory? I'm not super security paranoid, but as my computer is usually easily accessibly by multiple people I've always wanted an easy way to protect certain parts of my drive. Most important to me is being able to access it quickly myself (which is why nothing is really protected right now), so I've never found a good solution.

    • Simon
      June 17, 2008 at 7:41 am

      Hmm... Good question.
      I think FolderArmor should do the job. You can protect as many folders as you like using it and will get a password prompt when you try opening it. You can't use more than one password, though.
      Check it out .

    • Simon
      June 17, 2008 at 7:45 am

      railfox.com/download/FolderArmor.zip

  10. Keith Dsouza
    June 16, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    I have been using CCleaner and KeyScrambler for quite some time and really am a paranoid about security will try out your other recommendations

  11. Mark O'Neill
    June 16, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Great article Simon. I already use CCleaner but for encrypting files, I use TrueCrypt. I also try not to keep too much on my actual computer. I am VERY paranoid about hackers and snoopers. I carry most things on encrypted USB drives, disks, or online.

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