Technology May 20th, 2008
I was lucky enough to get a unit some time back to review. Yes, it was almost a few weeks back that I got the pair of easyKey dongle; but because I wanted to make sure that what I am getting is the real McCoy, I tested it inside out, outside in, and flip it around a few times for good measure. My data was secure, it was virtually hack-proof (virtually because if you have all the computer power needed and all the time, then yes, you can probably hack it – but I am not sure if you’d still be around to see it).
While I will go through the installation at the bottom of the post, I would like to highlight some mechanisms on how I thought it worked. When you first install the software, you will be prompted to create a drive. This drive that you are creating doesn’t really exist, but is really a .sdf file on your hard disk. The .sdf file is something like a .zip file except that it’s not really compressed although it is really encrypted.
When you plug in the easyKey dongle on on another occasion, it will prompt you for a PIN, following which the .sdf file will be "opened" up as a drive on your computer. Needless to say, deleting the .sdf file means that you will lose all data that you stored in this virtual drive. It is also noteworthy to mention that the dongle itself is not a thumb drive and the size of the virtual drive you create during or after installation is really taking up space on your hard disk.
What if your hard disk runs out of space – can you still create an encrypted virtual drive to store all your confidential stuffs? The good news is, you can. When you run the easySafe application, it will prompt you for your PIN; following which, it will prompt you for your easyDrive Name (which is like a volume name – for the techies), an easyDrive Size (which is the size of the virtual drive which is really the size of the .sdf file) and an easyDrive Location. Now, this location does not have to always be at C: or D:. In fact, if you have a USB drive, you can plug your USB drive in (assuming that you have at least 2 USB ports) and store the encrypted .sdf file on the thumb drive instead. Of course, doing so means that you’d have to insert both the thumb drive and the easyKey dongle everything you like to access your encrypted data.
In a nutshell, the easyKey dongle provides a 2-prong approach to data security. It is firstly a physical dongle – without which, there’s no way anyone can gain access to your data; and even if someone does manage to get hold of it, it has a second-level security by asking for a PIN. Without either, your encrypted data is safe even in the hands of others.
Many have also asked about why there are 2 easyKey dongles. The reason is quite simple. If you lose one dongle, there’s always another one. If you lose both… hmm… I hope you have a back up somewhere.
FAST easySafe is really the only hardware cryptography product available in the market with unique features. It protects all sensitive information in your computer, external hard disk, USB flash drive, SD card and other removable media.
And now, if you had been dying for the step through, here you go. (Click more to continue)
When you first insert the CD into the drive, you will be prompted with the installation screen. It is important that the easyKey dongle is not plugged into the USB port.
After you have ensured that, you have to click on the checkbox next to "Please ensure that easyKey is NOT plugged in now!" and click Next.
You will be prompted with the standard EULA. If you do not agree with anything stated inside, you should exit the installation IMMEDIATELY! Nay, it’s not that serious, but you should make an effort to read EULAs, especially if you are going to use it in a big organization.
You will be prompted with the destination folder to install the easyDrive application. Take the default folder if it’s fine with you.
Hold your breath. You would have to wait for it to extract files…
And for it to tell you that it’s finishing installation.
Following which, you will be prompted to plug in your easyKey for the first time.
After you have done that, you should key in the PIN. The default PIN is 123456. Click Next when you are ready.
You would then be prompted to create your first easyDrive. Default settings are "easySafe" for the easyDrive name, 100 MB for the size and the .sdf file will be located in the root directory of C: drive.
You can also click on the checkbox next to Skip if you do not wish to create an easyDrive now. You can always do it at a later time by running the easyDrive application, which I will go through soon.
If you think that 100 is an ugly number, you may prefer something more geeky like 256 MB. Click Next when you are done with the initial settings. Remember, you can skip this step by clicking on the checkbox next to Skip before you click on Next.
Ta-dah! You are finished! Click on Finish to complete the installation.
If you open your Windows Explorer (not Internet Explorer), you will be able to see a new drive labelled "easySafe" (or whatever you call it earlier). If you can’t see this image, click on it to open it in a new window.
You can click on that drive and you can see that it’s empty. It’s now ready for you to drag and drop files into it. If you can’t see this image, click on it to open it in a new window.
If you go into the C: drive, or your easyDrive Location, you will see an .sdf file named easySafe.sdf, or whichever name you gave it earlier.
Removing the easyKey dongle removes the virtual easyDrive from your system. This means that no one has access to your encrypted files, although they will still be able to see easySafe.sdf. If you do not wish anyone to even see the .sdf file, you may hide the file using Windows. This can be done easily by right clicking on the .sdf file, clicking on Properties and then clicking on the checkbox next to Hidden. Depending on your operating system, it may differ slightly. If you are not sure, you should seek the assistance of a computer guru or geek. =)
When you plug in your easyKey dongle again, you will be prompted with your PIN. Again, the default PIN is 123456. This can be changed using the easySafe application at Start > All Programs > FAST easySafe > easyKey Configuration.
When you are ready, click OK.
You may also create a new easyDrive by going to Start > All Programs > FAST easySafe > Create easyDrive.
You will be prompted with exactly the same prompt described earlier when you were asked to create your very first easyDrive, except that there is no option to skip now; although you can just Cancel the process.
Which, if you do cancel, you will be prompted to confirm your exit. Click Yes to continue, click No to go back to the previous window.
If you were to go to Start > All Programs > FAST easySafe > EasyDrive Management, you will be able to see all your easyDrives, the (virtual) drive selection, the opening mode (Auto by default – and you should probably leave it as it is unless, for some reasons you want to do it manually), the easyDrive location (which is the location of the .sdf files) and the easyDrive size. In the event that you do wish to open the easyDrive manually, you will still have to key in your PIN when you plug in your easyKey, except that all easyDrives in manual mode will not be opened. To open the manual easyDrives, you should either double click on the individual .sdf files or to right click on them and Open With the easySafe application.
If you wish to delete your easyDrive, this is where you do it to. Just click on the easyDrive and click Delete. You will be prompted if you really wish to delete the easyDrive AND ALL DATA IN IT. Do make sure you have a back up before you do so.
Lastly, if you wish to change the PIN of your easyKey, you may do so using the application at Start > All Programs > FAST easySafe > easyKey Configuration. You will be prompted with the window above. Do remember your PIN because there is no 2 ways of getting the data back if you lose it. Click Cancel to exit or Finish when you are done.
So there you go. The almost complete guide to installing FAST’s easyDrive on your laptop. For the security it provides, it is definitely worthwhile getting one. It comes in a single easyKey dongle and double easyKey dongle package. Do visit their website at http://fastnsafe.com/safe_products.htm.
Now, if only I can get to keep the pair of review easyKey dongles!