File Lock PEA - Filesystem-Level Encryption

File and Folder Encryption

File Lock PEA (PEA = Password Encrypting Archive) encrypts data at the filesystem level and offers the possibility to decrypt single files or whole directories temporarily.
The program is small and consists of a single archive file. Installation is not required.

The File Lock PEA
  • runs on nearly all operating systems with a Java Runtime Environment,

  • uses functions to derive the key from the password, that can also protect against custom-hardware attacks, reducing one vulnerability of password-based encryption programs,

  • protects the integrity of the data by an authenticated encryption (EAX mode) in addition to the confidentiality and prevents unauthorized and unnoticed tampering of the data,

  • can be used in combination with the other PEAs (Notebook PEA, Image Lock PEA) for certain file types (text, images) and offers the option, to decrypt the data either in memory (RAM) or on the hard disk.

  • hides meta data by packing files in an encrypted zip archive.

Window displaying several file names of decrypted files File Lock PEA

Disk Encryption and File-Level Encryption

Disk encryption programs protect hard disk, partitions or other storage media. File Lock PEA is not intended to replace disk encryption, but to complement it. Common Open Source hard disk encryption programs are:

For a comparison between TrueCrypt, VeraCrypt and CipherShed see this article.

Disk encryption is usually very fast: these programs can encrypt large amounts of data in a relatively short time. This is probably the biggest advantage over file encryption programs that operate on filesystem level rather than on disk sectors. Disk encryption programs are therefore normally around a multiple faster than file encryption programs.

One problem, however, is that the protection of all the data is restricted, not only for the file that is needed. The data which are not used are still encrypted, but you can easily access them - the door was opened. To take a short look in a small text file, the entire partition remains with restricted protection.

Another disadvantage of disk encryption is the protection of the data integrity. Authenticated encryption for disk encryption is technically very demanding. The vast majority of these programs do not protect the integrity of the data. An exception is Geli (available for FreeBSD).

On the other hand, file encryption programs involve other problems:
  • The operating system may store temporary files, which are not encrypted,
  • encrypting individual files is more error prone to users, e.g. you must close the program properly,
  • file names and meta data are normally not encrypted (in File Lock PEA you can therefor use zip files)

Disk encryption programs are the first choice to protect data against loss. But once the system is running, decryption of individual files makes perhaps more sense.
The File Lock PEA is designed exactly for this purpose - for large amounts of data, it is not suitable, however.

File Lock PEA 1.1 (stable):

Key Derivation Function: Catena-Dragonfly
Cipher (EAX-Mode): Threefish
Hash Function: Blake2b
Window with menu displaying several file names to open and a password field Password dialog to open encrypted files and folders

For old versions and version log see the Version Log Site.

If the File Lock PEA does not meet your expectations, there is a wide range of open-source programs with similar purposes:

How to use

Start the Jar Archive

You need OpenJDK, Java Runtime Environment (JRE) or something similar. On most systems there is at least one available.
These PEAs are single Java jar archives, a file with the extension "jar". If you are familiar with jar archives, you can skip the following part.

Linux, BSD systems and Mac OS and other UNIX like systems: unpack the compressed download file (tar or unzip), store it for example in your home folder, change in the directory in console and type: java -jar YOUR_ARCHIVE.jar or try to double click the file
Windows: Normally you can open the jar archive just by a double click. But sometimes other programs overwrites this possibility and instead unpack the jar archive. In this case you can change the default program to open a jar archive or use the terminal, change in the directory of your archive and type java -jar YOUR_ARCHIVE.jar or try to double click the file windows_start_helper.bat
Dialog with two password fields Initializing File Lock PEA

Initialization: First Start

The first time you start the File Lock PEA, the program will initialize. You are asked for a password and at least one file.
You can reset the password later in the menu.


Pea Producing Factory

File Lock PEA is part of the PeaFactory, a program to produce password encrypting archives for several purposes.
File Lock PEA 1.0 is produced with the alpha release of PeaFactory 0.3.0-beta. Download: PeaFactory-0.3.0-beta.
Source code: PeaFactory-0.3.0-beta source code.
Warning: This version insufficiently tested, especially for the Notebook PEA and the Image Locke PEA. With PeaFactory you can create File Lock PEAs with much more cryptographic algorithms, File Lock PEAs with a key file property and also PEAs for image encryption or encrypted notes.

Thanks to all who have improved, tested or reviewed File Lock PEA or other PEAs.

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