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Author Topic: Article: Microsoft Withdraws Private Folder App - wtf?!?!  (Read 2519 times)

mouser

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Article: Microsoft Withdraws Private Folder App - wtf?!?!
« on: July 15, 2006, 03:17:53 PM »
from: http://www.betanews....older_App/1152917352
Quote
Following a barrage of criticism from security experts and IT administrators, Microsoft has withdrawn its new Private Folder application.
...
Private Folder was designed to hide data from the hard drive in addition to protecting it with a password. However, the application quickly drew concern from administrators who feared users would lose their password and not be able to unlock their files. In addition, parents voiced worry that kids could use Private Folder to hide content they download.

wtf is going on here?

more here: http://www.betanews....riticized/1152565309
Quote
Microsoft has released an application that would make it possible for those who share a PC or account to store files in a separate folder that only they may access. The move has been criticized, however, as some say the program could be misused, hiding content from IT administrators.
...
The software is called Private Folder 1.0, and hides data from the hard drive in addition to protecting it with a password. While no support will be given for the product, it will be available to those who verify their software as genuine through Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage Program.

But response to Private Folder from some was not positive. "An alleged security app that's easily circumvented and completely unsupported, with absolutely no documentation? Oh, dear. With all due respect, who the heck came up with this and why?" a user named "Drew" posted to the MSBlog on Monday.

Additionally, if a user loses the password to the folder, there is no way for Microsoft --or an administrator -- to unlock the files to regain access, something that many of the application's detractors found problematic.

if i am understanding this right.. microsoft released a program for encrypting files and people got all upset that it could encrypt files, and then microsoft withdrew it?  huh?

[actually the stuff above about how it was released without any support or documentation etc. does sound like ms is asking for a tech support nightmare and it doesn't make any sense to me why ms would release such a thing, but still..]

Josh

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Re: Article: Microsoft Withdraws Private Folder App - wtf?!?!
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2006, 03:42:08 PM »
Mainly, administrators were upset over this. They were upset that the user might be able to encrypt files that the admin could not view. Personally, if an administrator cannot limit installable applications on the pc, they arent a very good admin. If the user REQUIRES admin privellages, then make sure they understand the software policy and what is/isnt allowed.

I honestly dont see the issue here being that there is already EFS which has existed since Win2K. The only difference here is that this program makes the folder password protected (which can be said the same for EFS if you are using multiple user accounts).

I honestly dont see the big deal But perhaps I am not looking deep enough into it

mwb1100

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Re: Article: Microsoft Withdraws Private Folder App - wtf?!?!
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2006, 09:27:01 PM »
the stuff above about how it was released without any support or documentation etc. does sound like ms is asking for a tech support nightmare and it doesn't make any sense to me why ms would release such a thing
I agree - I was underwhelmed by the lack of any explanation of how it worked - it was unclear to me exactly what was encrypted and how - or even if encryption was used.  The description sounded like it might have merely 'hidden' the files from explorer.  A privacy-protection program should be pretty transparent about how it works so that at the very least you can be sure you're using it effectlvely.

It appears that the files are actually encrypted, but I think MS should still have been more informative about how the program worked.  It looks like that point may be moot now that they've pulled it.

As far as admins being up in arms about users encrypting things they aren't supposed to or losing/forgetting passwords...  there are plenty of ways users can already do those types of things - many zip programs perform encryption (even beyond the original insecure variant). So, I don't see what's so scary about this.

Josh

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Re: Article: Microsoft Withdraws Private Folder App - wtf?!?!
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2006, 09:33:35 PM »
Well, microsoft releases tools all the time without support (ala, the power toys (tweakui)). They are usually developed by a single developer or two, and are released to give you access to some other features. That is why the lack of documentation and support is as it is.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Article: Microsoft Withdraws Private Folder App - wtf?!?!
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2006, 01:04:38 PM »
If anyone wants to grab a copy before it disappears for good try:

http://download.micr...c3c265/MSPF10ENU.msi