by Rob Williams on January 26, 2006 in Security, Windows
Do you like the simplicity of Notepad, but want the security of Steganos? That’s where LockNote comes in to play, which protects your text with 256-Bit encryption. This is also the very first Steganos product to be labeled as freeware, and it’s even open source!
Steganos is a developer of quality security products, many that I have come to use regularly. We have taken a good look at some of their products in the past, including Internet Anonym and Security Suite. For the first time ever, they have released a completely free product called LockNote. I immediately had to try it out, and within minutes I realized just how useful this is.
What is it?
To put it simply: LockNote is an ultra secure Notepad. With it, you can create text files and instantly save it using 256-Bit AES encryption, which has been deemed unbreakable. This is a program for people who enjoy simplicity in their text files however, as the files you can create with LockNote are simple text with no formatting.
The reason this will prove to be such a useful tool, is that you can keep all of your sensitive information handy.. all you need is your password. For instance, this would be a great way to keep track of your serial numbers, addresses and phone numbers, simple financial info and much more.
When you download the program, it’s a simple *.exe that requires no installation. Upon opening, you can get underway and start typing inside the textbox. If you already have a .txt file that you want to use in LockNote, you can simply drag and drop it into the program and it will offer to encrypt it right away.
If it’s the first time you create a file, upon closing the program you will need to set a password. Since other Steganos programs ‘grade’ your password, I was hoping to see that here, but did not. Either way, you will want to set a good password, or else that 256-Bit AES encryption will not be helping you out too much. Whenever you further edit a file and then close the program, you will be asked whether you want to save it or not. There is virtually no delay in saving the encrypted file, which is expected as it’s only plain text.
If your file starts to get a little long, then you will appreciate the Find option. Select All, Cut, Undo and all that jazz can also be had.
Not only is this the first freeware product from Steganos, it’s also the first that they have released as open source under the GPL license. If you are a programmer and wish to check out the source code and maybe even edit it, you can check out the page over at SourceForge.
What this means to the normal user is that there is likely to be regular updates made to the app. It also means that if there are any bug in the software, it will be found and eliminated quickly. LockNote also utilizes the Crypto++ cryptography library, for which you can also view the source code. If you wish to compile the software yourself, you will need to download CryptoPP and WTL. If you open up the source with a brand new copy of VC++ 2005 then you will be required to update the files as this project was originally developed using 2003.
What I’d like to see..
This is meant to be a simple, but useful app… and it is. That being said though, I’d love to see some small changes in a future version. One thing I will personally be doing is have multiple files… one for serials, one for addresses and so forth. What would be nice, is to have tabs separate sections instead of being forced to use these separate files.
Since this is basically a secure Notepad, it would be great if we were able to select our own font and size, as we can in the Windows version of Notepad. If a font you use isn’t detected on a certain computer you use the file on, it could simply use the default one. Lastly, I’d love to see this app ‘grade’ your password quality just like all the other Steganos products do. If these three small things were taken care of, it would still be deemed a minimal app in terms of size, but add a lot of quality.
What can I say? Even though LockNote is such a small program, it’s incredibly useful. If you have made it this far into the review, then you obviously want such a tool, so give it a shot.. it is free after all. The program is fast loading, fast encrypting and capable of running on any Windows 2000 or XP. Even if you have a lot of text in your file, it will still likely weigh in at much less than 1MB so it’s appropriate for your thumb drive or even an old school diskette ;)
I look forward to seeing where this project goes, and give kudos to Steganos for releasing a quality freeware product and also releasing the source code under the GPL. If you wish to read more and download the app, check out the links below. If you are interested in the same type of functionality, but with data instead of plain text, you may want to check out our look at Steganos Safe which you can check out here.
If you wish, you can comment on the program and this article in our forums.