Friday, December 4, 2009

51 Open Source Tools to Protect Your Identity

Usually these lists of open source software start with statistics or general observations on current trends in the open source community. This one starts with a personal story.

I used to use a thumb drive to backup my budget software, and I also kept a copy of our tax returns on the same drive.

While the files were password protected, I didn't encrypt them because the drive never left the house, and we don't exactly live in a high crime area.

Then one day my husband was looking for a drive to carry some files to the school where he teaches. As you probably guessed, he grabbed the drive with our financial info on it. And as you probably also guessed, someone stole his computer and the thumb drive right out of his classroom.

As a result, I've had the great joy of spending many, many hours changing our account numbers, checking our credit reports, and setting up fraud alerts.

To help you keep from making the same sort of mistake I did, we've compiled a list of 51 open source apps that can help protect your identity.

Some of these fit into traditional security categories, like anti-spam, anti-virus, and firewalls.

Others, like browsers, e-mail, and PDF tools, we've included in this list because they include encryption or other security features that can help you protect yourself.

No one is likely to need all 51 of these apps, but the list should give you plenty of options for filling in any security gaps in your system.

Open Source Anti-Spam
1. SpamAssassin
The highly acclaimed "#1 open-source spam filter," SpamAssassin, uses a number of different features to identify spam, including header tests, body phrase tests, Bayesian filtering, blacklists and whitelists, and others.

It can be used on its own, but it's also been incorporated into a number of other commercial and open-source applications.

Operating System: OS Independent.

Humbly claiming to be "the absolute best SPAM fighting weapon that the world has ever known," ASSP is short for "Anti-Spam SMTP Proxy" Server. While it takes a little work to get it up and running at first, it doesn't require a lot of maintenance, and the site wiki includes extensive help on configuring the app so that it works for you. Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

3. Spamato
Available as an Outlook add-on, as a Thunderbird extension, or as a stand-alone proxy, Spamato uses multiple filters to separate junk mail from the stuff you actually want to receive.

Unlike some anti-spam tools, it also lets you see why a message gets classified as spam and adjust your settings as necessary.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Open Source Anti-Spyware
4. Nixory
Nixory will quickly scan your system and remove any malicious cookies from Firefox. Unlike some similar apps, you can use it alongside other anti-virus or anti-spyware applications without first disabling those systems.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Open Source Anti-Virus/Anti-Malware
5. ClamAV
One of the best-known open-source security projects, ClamAV provides e-mail virus and malware scanning for Unix-based systems.

Its owners update its prodigious virus database several times each day to provide up-to-the minute protection from evolving threats.

Operating System: Linux.

6. ClamWin
Based on the well-respected ClamAV engine, ClamWin integrates with Microsoft Outlook and Windows Explorer to scan files for viruses and other malware.

You can set it up to automatically download the updated virus database, and you can schedule system scans.

However, unlike many commercial products, it does not include a real-time scanner for files you receive by e-mail. You'll need to save files and right-click in order to scan them for viruses.

Operating System: Windows.

7. ClamTK
As you might expect, this is another interface for ClamAV, this time for Linux only.

Operating System: Linux.

8. Moon Secure
This app also uses the Clam AV engine (though developers claim to be working on one of their own), but offers a different interface and some different features.

Operating System: Windows.

Open Source Backup
9. Amanda
Currently protecting more than 500,000 computers, Amanda is one of the most popular (if not the most popular) open-source backup and recovery program.

Importantly, it encrypts backup data both in transit and at rest. Several commercial vendors (notably, Zmanda) use Amanda to offer cloud backup services for users who prefer to store archived data off-site.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

10. Areca Backup
Designed to be both flexible and simple, Areca Backup makes it extremely easy to archive your files and work with those archived files (browse, merge, track versions, etc.).

It also gives users the option to encrypt backup files with strong algorithms.

Operating System: Windows, Linux.

11. Bacula
While it's primarily aimed at enterprises and users with large networks, Bacula can also be used to backup a small home network or a single system.

It's an excellent program (one of the most popular open source enterprise apps), but you need to be pretty tech-savvy to use it.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Open Source Browser
12. Firefox
An independent study cited on the Firefox site claims that Internet Explorer users are vulnerable to threats 98 percent of the time while Firefox users are only vulnerable 2 percent of the time.

In addition to being secure, Firefox is fast and highly customizable.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

13. Tor Browser Bundle
If you're really paranoid about privacy or have other reasons for wanting to browse the Internet anonymously, the Tor Bundle will install with your existing browser for ultimate protection.

When its running, no one can tell what sites you are visiting, sites can't figure out your physical location, and you should be able to access sites that are blocked by governments or Web filtering software.

You can also install it on a thumb drive for mobility.

Operating System: Windows.

14. TorK
For Linux users, this Tor front-end lets you anonymously browse the Internet, send instant messages and e-mail, and more.

Operating System: Linux.

Open Source Compression
15. 7-zip
7-zip offers higher than normal compression ratios and supports multiple file formats. However, in order to take advantage of its strong AES-256 encryption capabilities, you'll need to create either 7z or zip files.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

16. PeaZip
One of the most flexible compression utilities available, PeaZip currently supports about 90 different archive file formats.

It also supports multiple encryption standards and even offers a two-factor authentication option for maximum security.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

17. KGB Archiver
One big benefit of using this compression utility is that it encrypts files with AES-256 encryption automatically.

It also supports multiple file formats and nine different languages (but not Russian, which seems odd for an app named after the KGB).

Operating System: Windows.

Open Source Data Destruction
18. Darik's Boot And Nuke
Also known as "DBAN," Darik's Boot and Nuke allows you to create a boot disk (CD, DVD, thumb drive, or even an old floppy) which will completely erase all the drives it can detect on your system.

It's a great tool if you're getting rid of an old computer, but not as helpful if you're just deleting a few files.

Operating System: OS Independent.

19. Eraser
If you need to erase only a few files—perhaps your financial or tax records, work files, or as the website suggests, bad poetry—Eraser is the tool for you.

It overwrites deleted data multiple times, making it nearly impossible to retrieve the "erased" files.

Operating System: Windows.

20. BleachBit
Like Eraser, BleachBit can completely erase files, but it also includes a number of other features to help protect your privacy and speed up your system.

For example, it can erase your cache, remove your browsing history and cookies, clean up junk left by more than 50 applications, and much more.

Operating System: Windows, Linux.

Open Source Email
21. Thunderbird
This e-mail client from Mozilla (the makers of Firefox) includes built-in encryption capabilities, anti-spam, and phishing protection.

It further protects you by blocking remote images in e-mail and alerting you when security updates become available.

Operating System, Windows, Linux, OS X.

22. Zmail
Need to send a secret e-mail? Zmail lets you send e-mail messages anonymously if you know your SMTP server address.

Operating System: OS Independent.

Open Source Encryption
23. AxCrypt With more than 1.5 million registered users, AxCrypt has become one of the most popular open-source encryption applications.

It integrates seamlessly with Windows—simply right-click a file to encrypt it.

Operating System: Windows.

24. TrueCrypt
With more than 12 million downloads, TrueCrypt is also a very popular way to protect your files. While AxCrypt focuses on encrypting individual files, TrueCrypt makes it easy to encrypt a drive partition or an entire drive (including USB thumb drives).

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

25. Gnu Privacy Guard
Also known as "GPG," Gnu Privacy Guard lets you encrypt and digitally sign documents before transmitting them.

This is a command line tool, but the Web site includes links to a number of graphical interfaces for the software.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, Unix, OS X.

Open Source File Transfer
26. FileZilla
FileZilla supports regular FTP and the more secure FTPS and SFTP protocols. While the client version should work with any operating system, the server version only works with Windows machines.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

27. WinSCP
This Windows-only file transfer tool has won tons of awards and supports FTP, SFTP, and the older SCP file transfer protocols.

Note that it's a client-only tool—i.e., you can use it to download files from other sites, but you can't use it to set up your own FTP server.

Operating System: Windows.

Open Source File Sharing
28. Waste
While most file sharing networks are designed to help users circumvent copyright laws, Waste at least claims to be aimed at law-abiding citizens.

With it, small groups (10-50 nodes) can chat and share data securely without opening their systems to unauthorized users.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

Open Source Firewalls
29. Firestarter
Unlike most of the open-source firewalls, Firestarter can protect a single PC as well as a network. Best of all, you can probably install it and be up and running in just a couple of minutes.

Operating System: Linux.

30. IPCop
IPCop is a complete Linux distribution designed to be used as a standalone firewall and boasts a very user-friendly interface. To use it, you'll need an old PC to connect to your network.

Operating System: Linux.

31. Vyatta
Vyatta sells open source networking hardware and software commerically, and they also maintain the free, community version.

With the community version, you can turn a PC into a network appliance that offers routing, firewalling, VPN, intrusion prevention, and WAN load balancing services.

Operating System: Linux.

32. SmoothWall Express
Because it's designed to be used by people with no knowledge of Linux, SmoothWall Express is an excellent option if you aren't a technical whiz, but want to tackle setting up your own network.

A supported commercial version is also available.

Operating System: Linux.

33. LEAF
The "Linux Embedded Appliance Framework" (aka LEAF) can be used as an Internet gateway, router, firewall, or wireless access point.

This app requires a little more know-how than some of the other choices in the category, but is a good option.

Operating System: Linux.

Open Source Gateway Security Appliance
34. Untangle
Untangle gives you the option of connecting a PC to your network to use as a Linux-based network gateway or running the software in the background on a standalone Windows PC.

In either case, the free option includes 12 different open-source apps for anti-virus, web filtering, anti-spam, VPN, and more. Commercially supported versions are also available.

Operating System: Windows, Linux.

35. Endian Firewall Community
Very similar to Untangle, Endian lets you create a gateway security appliance out of an old PC. It's easy to install and use, but does not come in a Windows version like Untangle.

Endian does offer hardware and software appliances and support commercially.

Operating System: Linux.

Open Source Laptop Theft Prevention
36. A.L.A.R.M
Need to leave your laptop unattended for a moment? Plug your laptop into an A/C outlet and then lock it. If someone removes it from the power source, A.L.A.R.M. will play a loud noise—sort of like a burglar alarm for your laptop. Operating System: Windows.

37. ThinkPad Anti-Theft Manager
Like A.L.A.R.M. this app sounds an alarm when someone tries to swipe your laptop. Only in this case, it detects any motion instead of removal of the A/C power source.

Note that it only works with ThinkPad systems.

Operating System: Windows.

Miscellaneous Open Source Security Tools
38. Security and Privacy Complete
This app gives you control over a number of system settings and settings for Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, and Firefox.

A handy tooltip feature lets you know what each function does and why you might want to enable or disable it.

Operating System: Windows.

39. Bastille Linux
Because it does such an excellent job educating users about security issues as it takes steps to harden their systems, many organizations use Bastille Linux to train new systems administrators as well as to harden systems against attack.

The app walks users through a series of questions about their security needs, helps them make informed decisions, and then applies the necessary changes to the system.

Operating System: Linux, Unix, OS X.

Open Source Mobile Applications
Downloaded more than 100 million times, this is truly one of the most popular open-source projects. It includes dozens of the most popular freeware and open-source apps, including several which also appear on our list of ID protection tools: 7 zip, ClamWin, Eraser, FileZilla, Firefox, KeePass, PeaZip, Thunderbird, and WinSCP.

Operating System: Windows.

41. winPenPack
Like, winPenPack lets you use lots of apps from a thumb drive, but it offers different packages depending on your needs.

The "Essential" pack includes several apps from this list, such as 7 zip, ClamWin, Firefox, KeePass, and Thunderbird.

(Note: when you click the link, you'll get the Italian Web site. Click the British flag in the corner for English.)

Operating System: Windows.

42. Democrakey
Unlike the other two projects in this category, Democrakey was specifically designed to protect your identity.

The Minimal version includes Tor, ClamWin, Thunderbird, and TrueCrypt, while the full version adds AbiWord (word processing) and Gimp (image editing).

Operating System: Windows

Open Source Password Safes
43. KeePass
KeePass protects your password database with encryption so strong that, according to its makers, "even if you would use all computers in the world to attack one database, decrypting it would take longer than the age of the universe."

With KeePass you can also create a "key" on a CD, DVD, or thumb drive that you can use instead of or in addition to your master password for unlocking your passwords.

Operating System: Windows.

44. KeePassX
The original KeePass works only on Windows, but this version works for Mac and Linux users as well.

Operating System: Windows, Linux, OS X.

45. KeePass SD
Use a Windows-based mobile device? This is the version of KeePass for you.

Operating System: Windows.

46. WebKeePass
Have your own Web server? This version of KeePass lets multiple users access a KeePass database from any Web-connected system. It's ideal for small businesses.

Operating System: OS Independent.

47. Password Safe
Password Safe makes it very simple to set up your password database. It gives you the option of creating multiple databases so that different users can each have their own databases or so that you can create separate databases for work and home.

A version for U3 USB thumb drives is available for a fee.

Operating System: Windows.

Open Source PDF Tools
48. PDFCreator
As you might expect from the name, this app lets you create PDF files from nearly any application without using Adobe software.

It gives you the options of encrypting and/or digitally signing your PDFs as well.

Operating System: Windows.

49. jPDF Tweak
This Java-based program lets you merge, split, reorder, sign, and encrypt previously existing PDF files.

Operating System: OS Independent.

Open Source System Monitoring
50. Afick
Very similar to the commercial product Tripwire, Afick ("Another File Integrity Checker") monitors and reports on any changes to your file system.

Note that in order to use it, you'll need to be pretty comfortable working from the command line.

Operating System: Windows, Linux.

Open Source Web Filtering
51. iSAK
The "Internet Secure Access Kit" (iSAK) lets you view reports on what type of sites your users are visiting and when.

Of course, it also gives you the option to block specific sites or categories of sites for security or to prevent access to objectionable sites. It also incorporates anti-virus and anti-spam protection.

Operating System: Linux.

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