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Create encrypted archives with BCArchive

Don't neglect securing your archives. Learn how BCArchive, a secure archiving tool for Windows, can help your small business.

Most modern operating systems have the built-in ability to create archives (.zip, .tar, .gz, etc.). With some of these tools, you can even create a security password to protect the archive from prying eyes. But for small businesses looking for more security in their archives in order to keep sensitive data from prying eyes, the built-in tools don't always cut it. That's when you need a product such as BCArchive.

With BCArchive, you can:

  • Create compressed and encrypted archives;
  • Create compressed and encrypted archives using public key encryption;
  • Add several passwords to an existing archive;
  • Apply multiple public keys to an archive;
  • Generate new or use existing Secret/Public key pairs;
  • Compress data to a self-extracting, executable file; and
  • Sync, import, and export functions.

BCArchive is available for the Windows platform only (XP, 7, 8, Server 2000-2012) and is free to install.

Note: BCArchive creates archives in a non-standard format (.bca). For anyone to be able to work with the archive, they will need to install the same app.

Installing BCArchive

  1. Download the executable installer.
  2. Locate the downloaded file and double-click it.
  3. Walk through the installation wizard.

When the installation is complete, you can fire up the application and begin creating/encrypting archives.

Using BCArchive

Here are the steps for creating a new archive with password-based encryption.

  1. From the main window (Figure A), go to Archive | New.
  2. In the Encryption Parameters window, click Advanced.
  3. In the Advanced view (Figure B), select the archive name (you have to create this by clicking the "..." button, navigating to where the archive will be saved, and giving the archive a name).
  4. Select the Algorithm.
  5. Select Password Based Encryption.
  6. Create a password.
  7. Confirm the password.
  8. Select the key algorithm.
  9. Click OK.

Figure A

bcarchive_1_102413.png

The main window for BCArchive is clean and easy to navigate.

Figure B

bcarchive_2_102413.png

In the Advanced view, you can create a public key encrypted backup.

After creating the archive, you can add files by following these steps:

  1. Select the archive from the left navigation.
  2. Go to Edit | Add Files.
  3. Locate the files in the window that appears and click Open to add the files.

When you add the files, the archive remains encrypted, so you don't have to go through the steps of re-encrypting or closing the archive. In order to access the archive, you have to open it and then enter the archive-specific password.

Using public key encryption

This is a very basic outline of how the public key encryption will work.

  1. You create a public key using BCArchive.
  2. You share your key out to anyone who needs to send you encrypted archives.
  3. Users create an archive using your public key.
  4. Users send the archive (encrypted with your public key) to you.
  5. You open the archive using the password associated with your public key.

Before users can send you public key encrypted archives, you must create your public key -- BCArchive can help with this task. Follow these steps to create a public key:

  1. From the main window, go to Archive | Manage Key Database.
  2. From the Key Manager, go to Key | Generate New Public/Secret Pair.
  3. In the resulting window, select Generate New Private Key Pair and click Next.
  4. Fill in all of the spaces marked with <Empty> (Figure C) and click Next.
  5. Double check the information and click Create.
  6. Move your mouse around and press keys to help generate a random seed.
  7. Once the random seed is created, click OK, and the key will complete. (The public key creation process is rather slow in BCArchive, so make sure to give the random seed generator plenty of time to process.)

Figure C

bcarchive_3_102413.png

Fill out the fields marked <Empty> to continue.

After your key is created, you'll need to send your public key to anyone who needs to send you public key encrypted archives. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. From the BC Key Manager, select the key to be exported.
  2. Go to Key | Send Public Key To Email Recipient.
  3. When the email composition window opens, enter a recipient email address.
  4. Click Send.

The auto-generated body of the email will contain both the key and the instructions for the recipient to import the key (remember, they must have BCArchive installed). Once the recipient has your key, they can create encrypted archives that only you can open using your public key.

You will need to get the public keys of any user you want to send an archive to and import them into your Key Manager. Once you receive the key (via email) simply follow the directions in the body of the email for importing.

To create those public key encrypted archives, follow these steps:

  1. From the main window, go to Archive | New Archive.
  2. In the Encryption Parameters window, click Advanced.
  3. Select Public Key Encryption.
  4. Click Browse.
  5. Double-click the user the encrypted archive will be sent to.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Once you are back in the main window, select the newly created archive.
  8. Go to Archive | Send As Attachment To | User With Public Key.
  9. When the email window opens, enter the email address of the recipient.
  10. Click Send.

Once the user receives the archive, they only need to save the attachment and then open the archive with BCArchive. Upon successfully entering their public key password, the archive will open.

Give BCArchive a try, and see if your data aren't more secure in the end.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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