Open Source System Security

I’m going to take a break from my usual review of open source educational technology and take a look at some open source applications that can help with system security.

Antivirus

clamav,clamtk,energize education

ClamTk Main Window

Probably the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to keeping computer systems secure is antivirus software.  Towards this end, we have ClamAV, a virus scanner available for Linux, Microsoft Windows and MacOS.  While ClamAV actually runs from the command line.  ClamTk provides a graphical interface for users who are less familiar with the command line.

So, how does ClamAV stack up to its commercial counterparts?  First of all, it is free.  Next, ClamTk can be configured to automatically download updates and to run scans.  Furthermore, as it is a virus scanner, it does not actively block viruses.  This may sound like a weakness, but this means that it only runs when set to do so or when it is launched, which in turn means that it’s easier on system resources.  Additionally, ClamTk is highly configurable and scans can be easily modified if needed.  Finally, plugins, such as ClamAssassin, a mail scanner, can be added to enhance functionality.

 

Password Management

keepassx,passwords,energize education

A KeePassX session

Online security gurus will tell you that one of the best things you can do to protect yourself online is to use complex passwords (upper/lower case letters, numbers and special characters).  They also advocate that you should never use the same password for any online accounts you may have.  How do they expect people to keep track of which password is used on which site?  The prospect seems daunting.  The good news is that, thanks to KeePassX, you don’t have to go through this.

KeePassX is an application that keeps track of passwords for you.  KeePassX actually utilizes a database to keep track of passwords.  What features does it offer?  first of all, there is extensive management for each entry (includes a title for each entry,  attachment insertion and user-defined symbols for groups and entries, among others).  Next, there is the integrated search feature.  Additionally, there is also a secure password database.  Other features include a secure password generator, encryption and the capacity to import/export entries.  Best of all, KeePassX is  free and available for Linux, Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS.

File Encryption

veracrypt,encryption

VeraCrypt at work

To the unfamiliar, the prospect of encrypting files sounds like something done by government agencies or corporations.  If you’re storing data on a cloud drive, like Google, you should give file encryption a thought.  Any data stored on the cloud is potentially vulnerable.  An encryption program encrypts files and sets a key for decoding them.  To decrypt a file, you must have the encryption key.  Fortunately, this process isn’t as complicated as it sounds and the right software makes it downright easy.

Enter VeraCrypt!  VeraCrypt is hard disk encryption software.  With VeraCrypt, users can encrypt individual files, hard drive partitions or whole devices.  Additionally, encryption is automatic and takes place in real time.  Furthermore, encrypted files, partitions or drives are mounted as virtual hard drives.  Therefore, writing changes to encrypted data is just as quick and easy as it would be with unencrypted data.  Finally, VeraCrypt is available for Linux, Microsoft Windows and MacOS.

In closing, I just want to add that I hope readers will find this applications useful in their efforts to surf the Web securely and safely.

Resources

ClamAV Web Site

KeePassX Web Site

VeraCrypt Web Site

References

ClamAV [computer software].  (2018).  Cisco: GNU General Public License.

ClamTk [computer software].  (n.d.).  GNU Gneral Public License.

KeePassX [computer software].  (n.d.).  GNU General Public License.

KeePassX screenshot retrieved from https://www.keepassx.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/.

VeraCrypt [computer software].  (n.d.).  GNU General Public License.

VeraCrypt screenshot retrieved from https://a.fsdn.com/con/app/proj/veracrypt/screenshots/VeraCrypt_Creating_Volume.png/max/max/1.