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Appeared on: Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Ricoh EncryptEase


1. Introduction
Ricoh recently announced a new product, aimed at professional and corporate users who want to protect their valuable data against unwanted access. The product is called "EncryptEase" and claims to prevent un-authorized access to sensitive data. Most users are probably aware of the fact that there is no protection scheme that can't be broken, which makes it almost impossible to guarantee 100% unwanted access to your data. But you can make it very difficult and in some cases, impossible to all but the most ingenious of intruders. We will try to explain how EncryptEase works, if it works as it is intended and if we found any holes.

What is ?

EncryptEase is an intelligent data protection hybrid CD-R with built-in security and writing software, on one disc. Auto-run system for your easy data protection - The security software automatically launches when the disc is inserted, guiding the user step by step through the program with three supported languages:

Product summary

Disc specification

Recording capacity: Approximately 600MB
Maximum write speed: 40x

Requirements

OS

Windows 98SE
Windows Me
Windows 2000 Professional [ServicePack4]
Windows XP Home Edition
Professional [ServicePack1/ServicePack2]

CPU/Memory

Windows 98SE/Me :

150 MHz o. more [64 MB or more]

Windows 2000:

133 MHz over [128 MB o. more]

Windows XP:

300 MHz over [128 MB o. more]

HDD

Encryption (write):

Free capacity of 1.5GB or more

Decryption (read):

Free capacity of 800MB or more

* When you try to encrypt (write) data to the disc, its free capacity must be at least about twice the size of the data.

Drive

Any drive that supports CD-R disc write and read operations
* Note that you cannot use an NEC ND-5100A.

What is a hybrid disc?

A hybrid disc is a single CD that unites a CD-ROM and a CD-R/RW. An obvious advantage of the hybrid disc is that you can write data to a specific area on the disc, although it looks like a CD-ROM.

On the writable area, users can not only write their routine data to it, but they can also use it as an authentication area. This helps to manage and control the content of the disc by using the authentication mechanism.

History: Hybrid disc in which Ricoh's optical disc technologies are mobilized

Ricoh has been tackling the development of recording materials for use with optical discs since the 1980s. As a result, Ricoh launched the world's first write-once recording discs (WORM) that adopted pigment recording films in 1987, and CD-R discs in 1992. In addition, they also developed CD-RW discs ahead of the competition and launched them in 1997.

Ricoh's own material and stamper technologies, that have been built up through developing these optical discs, have been used for the development of the latest DVD+RW/+R media.The hybrid disc has been developed by mobilizing the above-described optical disc technological resources Ricoh has built up over many years.

Present: Hybrid CD-R born through a newly developed hybrid stamper technology

When Ricoh created a ROM area using any of the conventional stamper technologies, it couldn't provide sufficient recording compatibility because the groove shape in the R area was different from that of a normal CD-R. For this reason, Ricoh developed its own hybrid stamper technology. The technology provides recording compatibility and playability equivalent to those of conventional CD-Rs by realizing a highly accurate groove shape.

Future: Moving toward hybrid DVD

Currently developed Ricoh hybrid discs, only include hybrid CD-Rs and CD-RWs, but Ricoh intends to use the technologies built up through the development of hybrid CDs to develop hybrid DVDs as well.


2. Securing Data
- The package

Users can buy Ricoh's EncryptEase media in packs of 5 at the retail price of €34 (+ shipping). For our tests, we only had two samples of media. On the back of the media, there are some warnings:

When you insert an EncryptEase disc, the software starts automatically. If you have disabled auto-start, you need to double click the Autorun.exe file on the disc.

Once the driver is installed, Windows needs to be restarted.

After windows restarts, you will be prompted to insert a master password that protects all data on the specific EncryptEase disc:

We are now ready to add the files we want to protect, using the build-in wizard:

The writing options don't provide anything special:

You can drag&drop selected files, monitor the amount of available space on the disc or the size of the data compilation:

Pressing "BurnToDisc", we are given more choices, such as changing the Volume Label and use the "Compare" and "Close Disc" functions. Note that in the writing speed drop down menu, nothing else was selectable other than "Max" speed.

After pressing OK, the procedure starts and depending on your selected data compilation, can take several minutes to end:

After the writing procedure has ended, we are now able to view the contents of our disc.

By selecting either all or some files, we can extract them to our HDD/Flash Memory, provided that we know the right password:

If the password we provide is wrong, we are warned by a popup message:

After inserting the correct password, we are allowed to extract our data to HDD:

Let's now see several advanced details about our disc. Using Nero, we are able to see that there is only one session with two tracks.

Using the built-in Save Tracks function, we were unable to extract the tracks since the drive had problems with it:

Using ISOBuster, we are able to get a more detailed view of the disc contents. We can see that there is a second session (Session 2) which contains a "Session01" folder that includes three files.

The Files.lst file contains text which can be viewed with the built-in sector viewer:

The Archive and Control.pck files are also viewable but it is not possible to determine how the files are packed or encrypted. Probably "advanced users" could attempt to reverse engineer and play around with this information to determine the type of encryption used and possibly crack the protection scheme. However, this kind of fiddling around is beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced users.


3. Summary
Ricoh's EncryptEase is a new solution for those who wish to protect their data from unauthorized access. An EncryptEase disc is a combination of a -ROM and -R disc that includes built-in writing/encrypting/decrypting software. The user has to install a driver before being able to use either the write or extract functions. The included software works only under Windows so Mac/Linux users are out of luck for the moment. The installation procedure is simple and after rebooting, you will be able to use all the disc's functions.

In our tests, the EncryptEase disc worked perfectly with an NEC ND-3500 drive. Ricoh suggests that there might be some drives that aren't compatible with the EncryptEase technology, so check first before buying. We don't know what kind of encryption is being used (48/56/128bit key) since Ricoh will not disclose this information, for obvious reasons. The disc needs a master password which, if forgotten, means your won't have access to your data.

We don't know if the protection scheme will be strong enough for experienced coders, but we couldn't view or gain access to the encrypted data, despite the fact that we could copy files to our HDD, without using the built-in wizard.

The price for a 5 disc pack is around €34, or €6.8 per disc, (excluding shipping). It's not cheap, but if you need to protect sensitive data, price is not really an issue. Apart from big corporate users, Ricoh's EncryptEase will also be handy for ordinary users wanting to send document files or distribute programs without worrying about it falling into the wrong hands. Each EncryptEase disc can be used up to 20 times (sessions), depending on the size of the data compilation. We believe that an EncryptEase DVD disc would be more appropriate, in terms of having more storage space available.



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