The DESlock+ system is a simple idea that brings easy-to-understand encryption technology to everyday PC users. It uses software and USB hardware keys to protect your sensitive data from prying eyes, and operates much like a physical lock and key.
Out of the box, you get an install CD, a beefy manual and two USB hardware tokens – which effectively operate as hardware keyrings for up to 64 (depending on the licence) encryption keys. In turn, each encryption key unlocks a user-defined access level, such as all the accounts files for a small business. Alternatively, you might use a different encryption key to keep your personal bank details under wraps.
The USB tokens plug straight into your PC, allowing you to use any of your 64 keys to view files, email and folders you have encrypted – all your data remains scrambled unless you use the matching hardware key to unlock it. You can set files to become invisible when the USB token is absent and reappear when it’s inserted.
In use, DESlock+ offered a no-nonsense approach to data protection. For cryptography fans, it uses the popular 3DES (Triple DES) algorithm, the better AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), and the block cipher Blowfish. In short, scrambled files will remain secure. Once a token is plugged in, access to files is seamless, with no lag when opening, viewing, editing and encrypting.
There are gripes, aside from the obvious one that losing both USB tokens means your data would be irretrievably lost. Set-up, while wizard-based, is slightly cryptic itself, and we had to wade through half of the weighty, jargon-heavy manual before managing to encrypt something. Creating an identical back-up token (to be stored in a safe place) proved a little confusing, not helped by some glaring errors in the manual.
If you can live with the slightly confusing setup and management, DESlock+ is very effective. Hardware tokens are more secure and easier to use than software-only systems, and a good desktop shredder for deleting files securely is included.