Free Encryption / Cryptographic Software
Free On the Fly Encryption, Steganography, Public Key Encryption
Free Encryption / Cryptographic Software, Free On the Fly Encryption, Free Disk Encryption Tools, Steganography, Free Public Key Encryption Software
This page lists free encryption / cryptographic software of a wide variety. There are free on-the-fly disk encryption / on the fly file encryption (OTFE) software that transparently encrypts files on your disk drive (or partition), on demand encryption tools that allow you to encrypt single files for those one-off occasions when you need encryption public key encryption which is particularly useful for things like email (where the key you use to encrypt your data is different from the key used to decrypt the data), etc. Included here are also software that can perform steganography, a sort of invisible encryption, where the plaintext version of your sensitive data is encrypted and hidden inside another file (typically images or sound or video files).
Caution: Be careful when you use cryptographic / encryption software that do not tell you which algorithm they use. Claims like "strong encryption", "military encryption" and "secure encryption" do not tell you very much — after all, anyone can simply convert the letters on (say) this page to numbers (where a=1, b=2, etc) and still claim it is strong encryption / cryptography. Of course I doubt any program uses such kindergarten tricks. Nonetheless, words like "proprietary encryption" should set you on your guard, and words like "unbreakable encryption" should make you very suspicious. In general, publicly available encryption algorithms like Rjindael AES tend to be better tested with the weaknesses and strengths known than some obscure proprietary algorithm that might well turn out to be a snake oil product. Note that this is not a comment on the quality of any of the products listed here — it's just a generally well-known cautionary note.
Furthermore, if you need to ensure the privacy or security of your data, you might also be interested in the Free Destructive Deletion Tools, Disk and File Wipe Utilities, Secure Deletion Software page. If you only want to encrypt your usernames and passwords for various sites and services (such as your email account), and not other data, specialized software for such purposes can be found on the Free Secure Password Managers and Password Savers page.
Sections within this page
VeraCrypt is a fork (or spin-off, in layman's language) of TrueCrypt (see elsewhere on this page), a now-defunct encryption software. Like its predecessor, it allows you to create a file on your hard disk that Windows treats as an ordinary disk drive. Files stored on that virtual drive will be automatically encrypted or decrypted as necessary. It can also encrypt an entire hard disk, including your system drive.
FreeOTFE is an open source OTFE (on the fly disk encryption) software for Windows. It presumably creates encrypted partitions (the documentation does not explicitly state this, nor does it state if it supports the creation of encrypted container files). You mount the encrypted volume under Windows and it appears as a drive which you can use normally. FreeOTFE supports "hidden volumes" which are encrypted volumes that are created inside another encrypted volume. All FreeOTFE volumes also have no identifiable signature. It is compatible with Linux losetup, which is useful if you need to use your encrypted volumes in both Linux and Windows. Supported ciphers include AES and Twofish, and supported hash algorithms include MD2, MD4, MD5, RIPEMD-128, RIPEMD-160, SHA-1, SHA-224, SHA-256, SHA-384, SHA-512. At the time I write this review, FreeOTFE is still in BETA testing. Update: the original site seems to have disappeared. I've put a link to a mirror site.
- Scramdisk 4 Linux
Scramdisk 4 Linux is a suite of Linux tools that allow you to create and access Scramdisk and TrueCrypt containers. It has a Linux driver that allows you to mount such containers. Scramdisk for Windows and TrueCrypt are free on-the-fly disk encryption software that you can find elsewhere on this page.
- Cryptainer LE
Cryptainer LE allows you to create 25 MB encrypted containers that appear to Windows as disk drives. It supports Windows 95 (OSR 2), 98, ME, 2000, XP and 2003. It uses the Blowfish algorithm. It apparently also allows you to send encrypted emails as well.
- TrueCrypt (now defunct)
(Update: TrueCrypt is no longer maintained nor is the full version available from its official site. The final version found at
www.truecrypt.org[at the time this was written] merely provides the facility for you to copy off your data from a TrueCrypt encrypted volume, and does not allow you to store any new data. See elsewhere on this page for successors to this project.) TrueCrypt is the successor to E4M (which is no longer maintained). You can use it to encrypt an entire partition of your hard disk (including your system partition) or to create an encrypted container file which appears like a normal hard disk to Windows. You can then store and access your files on that virtual drive just like any other file. Since the program does not mark the encrypted container (or partition) in any way, there is, theoretically, no way for any intruder to guess which file is your encrypted container. This, according to the author, also preserves plausible deniability. Encryption algorithms supported include AES, Blowfish, CAST, IDEA (removed in version 2.1a) and Triple-DES. The source code is available free. This program works under Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux.
- Academic Signature
Academic Signature is an open source elliptic curve public key encryption program. It offers (quoting directly from their website) "up to 1024 bit ecc, symmetric ciphers up to 4096 bit block length and key length, payload size camouflage, deterministic ECC digital signatures, and zero adversary advantage hybrid ciphers". Source code and binaries for Windows and Linux (Ubuntu) are available.
- GPG: GNU Privacy Guard
GPG, a.k.a. GnuPG, is the GNU version of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), a public key encryption system. Like all things GNU, it is free and can be freely distributed and modified. It is generally compatible with the newer PGP versions (depending on the encryption algorithms you choose); but you should read their FAQ for more details.
- PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) Public Key Encryption
The above link is to the International PGP Home Page, where you can get free binaries and sources for Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) for a variety of operating systems for either US or non-US countries. You can use PGP to encrypt your email in conjunction with your email client, be it Eudora, ELM, PINE, or whatever. PGP is a public key encryption system, which means that you have two keys (passwords), one which is known only to you and the other is known to your recipient. Messages or documents (or whatever) encoded with one key can only be decoded with the other. You can read more about this from the PGP FAQs at the site.
- 4t HIT Mail Privacy Lite
This encryption software allows you to hide your private data such as email messages inside an image (JPG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, etc). The image is still viewable as an image, but it also contains the encrypted version of your secret message (steganography). The website does not specify which encryption algorithm is used.
CCrypt is a command line encryption tool that encrypts the files you specify. It is multiplatform with ports for Windows, Linux, Sun Solaris, Macintosh OS X, FreeBSD, AIX, etc. It uses the Rjindael AES cipher (Advanced Encryption Standard). The source code is available.
- LockNote (Windows)
This program lets you store your serial numbers, passwords, and other types of text notes in an encrypted form (AES 256). It's extremely portable in that it's just a single file that does not have to be installed, and can be placed on a portable media like a USB flash drive. The data you store is saved into the program file itself meaning that all you need to do to move your data to another location is to copy the program there. You can also save to a different file, which merely recreates a copy of the program, together with your data, in a new file. The password for your encrypted notes can be set by selecting the "File" menu followed by the "Change password..." menu item. The program is open source, released under the GNU General Public License.
mcrypt is a command line tool in the fashion of the Unix crypt command. It allows you to encrypt files that you specify on the command line using one of the following encryption algorithms: Blowfish, Twofish, DES, TripleDES, 3-Way, Safer, Loki97, Gost, RC2, Mars, Rjindael AES, Serpent, Cast, Arcfour and Wake. The OpenPGP encrypted file format is supported. This encryption tools works on Unix systems (including Linux) and has also been ported to Windows.
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