Security protection firm Overtis Systems has launched VigilancePro Encrypted Vault Manager (EVM), which uses ‘virtual vaults' in order for desktop users to easily encrypt data, as well as safely store and transmit it.

With data loss a constant worry for institutions, encryption is often touted as a means of securing data, even if it is lost. However, some organisations are put off encryption technologies due to its expense and complexity. Overtis has designed its EVM to be very easy to use, and indeed the company says that if a user can create a Zip file, then they can use EVM.

"EVM is both a standalone utility software package, but it is also embedded in our threat management solution, VigilancePro," said Richard Walters, product director at the UK-based company. "We have seen a lot of demand from our customers for standalone encryption utility, and EVM can be downloaded as .EXE file, which then creates virtual encrypted drives or vaults."

"If you can create a zip file then you can do this," said Walters. "One of the problems of traditional encryption techniques is that if you use different keys on a USB stick for example, you need to keep track of what keys are used to encrypt which files. By using containers or vaults, the user only needs to remember a single passphrase."

How it works is that the user clicks on ‘new' to create a new vault. He or she then enters a passphrase (Overtis recommends a minimum of 8 characters containing at least one numeric), and specifies a size and drive letter. A vault is then created and a Windows Explorer window is automatically opened to allow the user to immediately start adding files.

All content that is dragged and dropped into the EVM vault is encrypted using a FIPS 140-2 level 1 certified crypto library. All content placed in EVM vaults is encrypted using the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) 256-bit algorithm.

After files have been copied into the vault, the user clicks ‘close' and can then copy the corresponding .VPV file to USB drives, CD's, DVD's or even attach the file to email. The encrypted data can then be transmitted or shared with colleagues securely.

"VigilancePro is typically aimed at companies of more than 500 people," Walters told Techworld. "But with EVM, we have demand from large organisations right down to small companies and individuals."

When EVM is used as part of the VigilancePro threat management solution, the user does not need to remember the passphrase, which is instead handled by the server. Specific vaults can also be created for the HR or finance department for example, with access limited to only HR or management personnel.

EVM runs on all versions of Microsoft Windows operating systems and is free of charge for limited period.

"At the point when we start charging for it, it will cost £24.99 for use on up to five machines, which makes it roughly £5 per machine," said Walters.