Personal Data Security (PDS)
Software to prevent cybercrime
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* DHS / FBI - Joint Analysis Report on Cybercrime Reveals Malware and Phishing
* EUROPOL - Ransomware Has Become The Most Prominent Malware Threat

The digital age has made it much easier to create, access and save information. While this provides great benefits for collaboration, productivity and efficiency, accessing and maintaining that information requires protection against unauthorized access.

Without sufficient protection the door is open to cybercrime - and there is the root of the problem: What seems sufficient today may be found to be insufficient tomorrow. As technology evolves, both the guardian and the cybercriminal take advantage of each new paradigm. Improvements in protections are implemented, and new ways to circumvent the protections are found - and the cycle repeats, again and again...

With personal information stored in databases around the world, nobody can say that they are fully protected against cybercrime. For this reason insurance policies exist that can be purchased to help recover from losses from cybercrime. In addition to insurance, we all need to know at least the basics of protecting our own personal data from cybercriminals - much as we learned the "rules of the road" growing up. That means knowing what not to do, and learning about trusted software applications.

Though cybercrime is relatively new, the fundamentals are "as old as the hills" - theft, ransom and extortion. Here are just a few examples:
  • Stealing personal information and using it to impersonate someone for illicit gains.
  • Fraudently accessing a bank account to withdraw the funds from the account.
  • Making digital files unavailable and requiring a ransom to regain the information.


By using malicious software (malware), phishing, pharming, or other exploits, cybercriminals around the world seek to profit at the expense of both businesses and individuals. As successful cybercriminals are typically one step ahead of their victims, the best defenses include an evolving knowledge as well as the use of trusted software to apply that knowledge.

To better understand the scope of cybercrime today, as well as some of the methods you can use protect yourself from attacks, please see the "Current Trends in Cybercrime and How You can Protect Your Identity and other Confidential information on the Internet" video.

To learn about Personal Data Security (PDS) you may continue reading, or instead watch the Introduction to Personal Data Security video that is available on the Watch PDS page.


PDS differs from most consumer security products by providing robust management of encryption Keys. This makes PDS a bit geeky, but it also increases both security and flexibility. Every Key created with PDS must have a password, so every crypto operation requires you to provide a password for a Key. You may choose to use one Key for all of your crypto operations, or you may use multiple Keys - the solutions provided within PDS support both scenarios. Key management in PDS includes the ability to create, view, modify and delete Keys. Metadata associated with all PDS-encrypted items tracks which Key was used as well as where to find it, including unique search paths for each operating system when PDS is used in USB mode.

Though the details of securely creating encrypted Notes and backups are fairly complex, PDS again helps by providing an intuitive graphical interface that allows you to easily implement highly secure encryption (up to and including AES-256) without having to be an encryption expert. To quickly master PDS skills there is a QuickStart document, a detailed Users Guide, and even some videos on YouTube.


PDS provides a secure and easy-to-use solution to manage your credentials. The solution is based on Notes, which are securely encrypted text files.

The most simple implementation of Notes is to create a Note and type in the credentials for your most important accounts. Later, when you need any of those credentials, open the Note in read-only mode by providing the Keys password, and in the Note will find all your credentials. You don't need to memorize or type any more passwords, just copy and paste from the Note. Should you wish you may then clear the system clipboard with a PDS keystroke.

Taking this to the next step, if you have many sets of credentials you may want to group the credentials into its own Note, and then create a primary Note that contains the credentials to the other Notes. This scenario is shown in the figure to the right, where "dnote" is the primary Note that contains the credentials to open the banking, bills and social media Notes.


PDS encrypts your existing files and directories without modifying your originals. In the example to the right, Donner is encrypting his "Top" directory, creating an encrypted directory named Top.PDS.

Once you have created a backup it may be verified using a read-only decryption operation. Additional capabilities exist, such as appending time stamps to file name or the directory contents, and also the ability to extract only a subset of your encrypted directory. With these operations you can run multiple tasks in parallel.

Once encrypted and verified your backups are ready to be archived, either uploaded to a free cloud storage account or burned to disc. With archived backups, your original files can be restored if lost or damaged due to computer failure or theft - and even your own mistakes. To further guard against damage by malware (such as ransomware) when using cloud storage, you should use a cloud storage provider that is segmented from your computer, not one that is synced with your computer.

New attacks are first used against nations, then businesses, and then individuals.


Not only has PDS been designed to run as a Desktop application installed to the system drive, but PDS has also been designed to run directly from a USB "flash" drive. This means that you can copy the PDS application, as well as your Notes and Keys, onto your USB drive and securely access your confidential information wherever you are. Simply plug that USB drive in to any secure, supported (1) Java-enabled OS and you can securely access your confidential information. This capability also makes it easy to carry a backup on the road, just in case your laptop becomes damaged or lost.

In USB mode, both the application and its configuration reside on the USB drive. Your Notes or encrypted files can reside on either your USB drive or another other storage medium.

And, no matter what type of operating system you plug the USB drive into, PDS remembers where you keep your files, so whether you plug in to Linux/Unix, Mac or Windows, you Notes and Files (encrypted files or directories) will be in a familiar location.


PDS provides the ability to encrypt files and directories directly to tape drives. (2)

PDS supports reading and writing at both the beginning of tape as well as tape marks further down the media. PDS does not provide any tape management - just the standard PDS metadata associated with all PDS-encrypted items.

But wait, there's more... SMILE


From very simple to very complex scenarios, PDS may be used in different ways to protect your data.

At the most simplest, you may choose to keep all of your information securely protected with one Key and thus one passphrase. This is a simple, but secure, method to protect your information. All you have to do is remember one passphrase.

By using two or more Keys to protect your data, with each Key having a unique passphrase, you may group your data by which Key protects which data. In this type of scenario, isolated information may be shared with different groups. Using PDS Notes to track the passphrase for each Key will allow you to use as many Keys as you wish.

In another scenario involving multiple people or groups, you could encrypt the data multiple times, with each encryption operation using a unique Key. If only one person or group had the passphrase to each Key, the data would be protected until all parties were present.


PDS runs within a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). As Java is compiled into Java "bytecode", PDS is bound to the JVM and not the operating system; or worse, a specific version of the operating system. Because of this, PDS can run on any operating system that has a compatible JRE available.

As new releases of JVMs provide backward compatibility for older applications, every PDS release will continue to run on the newer Java-enabled operating systems of the future. This means that your encrypted backups and notes will continue to be available well into the future.

New JRE releases typically provide security enhancments, bug fixes, as well as improved performance and stability. These improvements will continue to improve the PDS application with every Java update.

Only one Java executable is created with each PDS release. This means that every supported operating system obtains the same level of quality, and for the most part the same set of features as well.

If you have concerns with using Java, as you have heard time and time again that Java is insecure, please read this information to learn why what you have been told may have mislead you. To that point, PDS is a desktop application, not a Java applet that runs within the browser plugin that has been the source of so many security problems.

(1) Targeted Operating Systems are Mac, Windows and Linux/Unix.
(2) This feature is disabled on Windows.

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