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Open Contacts



Some users requested password protection over the contact data, raising comparison with other address book programs which provide password protection. They are concerned by the privacy protection of address book data.

While password protection may be a basic measurement for your privacy, it is more important for you to understand what security protections you need, and what resources have been available, while there are many security solutions around.

Is the address book the only data that needs password protection? Are you concerned by the privacy of address book data only?

While putting a lock on an address book program or its database is looking secured as some address book programs in the market do, we don't believe that an address book is a good place to apply comprehensive security measurements, considering the balance of the security of your private data, and the convenience of using such data. For example, for security of your home, you installed locks on the front door and the back door, will you install locks on every bed rooms, bathrooms and toilets? Yes, it will be more secured if you do so, obviously, however, you will lost some conveniences of living.

MS Windows NT and following versions (Windows 2000/XP/Vista) already provided some front door locks for you. You need to log-on to access your computer (if you did not setup auto-logon). When you leave for a moment, you can lock the computer's screen and keyboard (by default pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del). Otherwise, anyone can access other private data of yours even if you have your address book data locked. You are not going to put locks on every pieces of your private data and the related programs, while keeping the front doors of your computers open.

If you use Open Contacts in desktop mode, You may put those database files into a working directory exclusively accessed by your account. So the other users won't be able to access your data. A common place of such protected area is your Windows profile area. For example, you may create a sub-directory under "My Documents" as working directory of Open Contacts.

In addition, you may consider using the built-in encryption function of Windows to encrypt your private directories.

If you use Open Contacts in LAN environment, you may put the database file in a secured server. Workstations should not be able to access the database file directly if the system administrator has properly done the job, but through Firebird database server. Please work with your system administrator to improve data security. If the contact data contain linked files, the directories of these files should allow workstations authenticated by Windows networking system to access.

You may argue that if the computer gets stolen or the external drives such as USB memory drive get lost, the address book data will risk of exposing to unauthorized uses. Yes, we are going to talk about how to further protect your address book data, as well as other private data.

An SQL database can be secured when authentication mechanism is sound and the database files are kept in a safe place. If the files get stolen, the authentication mechanism will take no effect. While it is not rare to encrypt data in a database, however, this will bring penalty to performance, and queries will be made difficult.

Data security is a big topic not likely to be discussed here in detail. Though Open Contacts does not provide built-in security, however, the program conforms to Windows security model, and it is easy and practical to use existing resources to introduce high level of security to Open Contacts, without costing you a penny.

You may consider to encrypt the directories using Windows' built-in encryption ( Apply to NT, Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, XP with NTFS file system volumes). Before you do this, please ensure that you understand how this works so that you don't do something to destroy the data access forever. For example, if you keep the password secured well, even the system administrator won't be able to access the data. All of this are fully documented in the Help of Windows by looking through both "file permissions" and "encryption". For further answers and questions about encrypted directories, please contact Microsoft supports or check relevant newsgroups.

If you use Open Contacts in an external drive with which NTFS can hardly work, you may consider to use an open source freeware program called TrueCrypt located at TrueCrypt also supports green installation on an external drive. You may then put Open Contacts and related files to the encrypted container managed by TrueCrypt. Please study the TrueCrypt website and the user manual for more details.

Please note, we do not provide technical supports to general questions about Windows, LUA, encryption and TrueCrypt etc. Please write to respective parties for further assistant.

Summary of Acquiring Data Security

  1. Log-on protection of Windows, and screen-lock protection.
  2. Run with Least-Privileged User Account.
  3. Encrypt personal folders of your hard disks using Windows (NTFS systems) built-in encryption and permissions.
  4. In LAN environment, secure the server and the network authentication.
  5. For using private data on external drives like USB memory drive or portable hard disk, use TrueCrypt.

The advices above apply to protecting Open Contacts' data, as well as your general practices of protecting your private data.

Regarding to protecting private data on external drives with TrueCrypt, you might be interested in reading "How to Build Portable PIM".