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NetSign Privacy Agent: security software to watch in 2004.

Remember how bizarre it used to be to go in to buy batteries at Radio Shack, only to have the clerk ask you for a litany of personal information? These days, it's all too common to have even the smallest transactions request elaborate information from you in an effort to stockpile it for marketing purposes. With the dangers of exposed information falling into the wrong hands, security is not something that can be entrusted to the gathering parties. With identity theft at an all-time high, and rampant industrial espionage, security must be handled on an individual and internal company-wide level.

Attempting to lasso the many avenues of transmission of sensitive data, SSP-Litronic is releasing its NetSign Privacy Agent into the marketplace. By certifying and encrypting instant messages, e-mail, and personal files, NetSign attempts to bring total security management for your system's files and communications under one package. The program requires a digital certificate to authenticate the user and encrypt files, outgoing e-mails and chat sessions. Certificates often have to be purchased from third-party companies like Verisign.

E-Mail Encryption

NetSign's e-mail encryption automatically integrates with Microsoft's Outlook and Outlook Express. It adds buttons to the toolbar of any e-mail, allowing the user to add a digital signature or encrypt specific message(s) by default, by specifying it in the control panel. The e-mail client will search for a recipient certificate and warn the user if one is not present and then give the user the ability to send the e-mail unencrypted.

Secure Instant Messaging

This may seem frivolous to some, but instant messaging is quickly becoming an effective way to communicate for many businesses. Instant messaging can be as easy, if not easier, to snoop into than e-mail. With NetSign, the user can import a certificate (after exporting from a browser) and then run NetSign's very well-designed chat interface. This interface, much like Cerulean Studios' Trillian, combines multiple chat clients (AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, IRC, etc.) into one secure chat interface. The client manages multiple conversations from multiple clients fluently, although to instigate an encrypted chat both users need to be using NetSign clients.

File Guard

Considering that about 85% of espionage crimes are perpetrated by employees, it may do some good to have an extra layer of protection added to your network files. Networks can be unsecure, laptops are easily stolen, personal data can be exposed by accident. NetSign Privacy Manager's File Guard will encrypt files and directories--locking them and preventing them from being read by anyone who does not possess the correct certificate and password. This is especially effective for personal files that you want to protect from everyone, including internal IT staff.

File Shredder

Don't think that just because your file is in the Recycle Bin it's trashed. Very often, computers just replace the first identifying character of a file when deleting, and then mark the area to be overwritten if the space is needed. That is why "lost" data can be so easily retrieved by programs such as Unerase. The file shredder's mission is to scramble files before deletion, making them garbled and unreadable. Using Department of Defense standards for clearing and sanitizing, the file shredder has multiple settings for making passes (from 1 to 35) over deleted files. The software scrambles the file by overwriting the data with random characters that make it impossible to retrieve.

Spam Filtering

On top of the security functionality of the software, the package also includes a learning-based spam agent for Outlook and Outlook Express. This agent can be initially 'trained' to separate the good mail 'ham' from the bad 'spam' and even separates those that are suspect into a third folder. You can set up the screening system by either doing it manually on the fly or setting up a precedent using the setup wizard.

All of these functions make for a very secure environment for data asset and communication security. Although the main control panel's interface could use a more modern makeover, NetSign is a solid security package with relatively simple instillation that anyone seeking a more robust layer of protection should keep an eye on.

NetSign retails for around U.S.$79.00, with discounts for multiple Enterprise licensing.
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Title Annotation:Top Technology Showcase; SSP-Litronic; NetSign Privacy Agent
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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