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VisKeeper for Pocket PC review
Posted on 30-Jul-2004 07:00 by M Freitas | Filed under: Reviews

VisKeeper (available for 121262 Pocket PC and 121274 Palm OS) is a flexible password storage program. You can actually store more than just passwords, since this program gives you the possibility of defining your own record formats. The viskeeperdb.prc file is kept on \My Documents on your Pocket PC, which means that it's always copied to your computer during the ActiveSync.

The data file is stored on your device using a 128-bit Twofish encryption algorithm. This is a block cipher by Counterpane Labs. Twofish is unpatented, and the source code is uncopyrighted and license-free; it is free for all uses. This alone makes it quite a secure storage for your data. Casual lurkers will not be able to see your precious information by examining the data file.

If this protection is not enough, the cool stuff on this program is really the visual key used to gain access to the information stored on its data file. Instead of using a sequence of numbers and characters to create a password or passphrase it uses a sequence of taps (up to 3) on an user-selected image. The great stuff about this is that it's harder for other person to guess the sequence of taps, and of course if the image is bigger than the screen, you can pan it around and tap in the same point in the image but in different parts of the screen. For example, on the screenshot below the tap to unlock the program is on the door handle (not safe, uh?). Since the image is quite large, I can have the door handle on the middle of the screen, and next time on the bottom. A casual observer or a logger program will not be able to tell where in the image I'm tapping, since each time it may look like it's in a different place. This creates a very large number of possibilities for the same key!

Entering the security access sequence

Defining the sequence

The options for this program are very simple, mostly related to the security sequence used to unlock the data file, as you can see in the next screenshot:

Entering the security access sequence

Show Click Hint means that after each click the program will flash a small circle in the area you have just tapped, with a number, corresponding to how many taps you've done so far. Fast Login will open the data file as soon as the last valid tap is entered. Uncheck this option if you want to tap the OK icon (a checkmark) when finished entering the correct sequence of taps.

Once you open the data file, a tree containing categories and data cards is show. If the root is selected (Safe) then you'll see some statistics on this data file. If you select a category then you'll see the data structure for cards under that category. And if you select a card itself then you'll see the data belonging to that card. Initially the screen is divided, but using the arrow icons in the status bar you can reduce or enlarge the data area shown on the bottom half (even eliminate it altogether).

Statistics for this data file

The data structure for the Software Information category

The data tree structure without the information panel

A card with corresponding data in the information panel

To add a new category simply tap and hold the root and the context menu will give you the option to add a new category. Once a new category is created you can then modify the data structure of its cards by doing tap and hold actions on the information panel, where the structure is shown. Each row is a new field on your data card.

Adding or removing fields

An interesting feature of VisKeeper is that a single registration key is good for all versions (Pocket PC, Palm OS and Windows). The Windows program (available for download from the VisKeeper website) provides a nice user interface, and as expected it uses the same data file and security sequence. The image is stored on the data file itself, a .prc file (following the Palm OS format, which is more restrictive than the Windows Mobile OS in terms of file formats).

The data statistics on the Windows companion program

The data structure on the Windows companion program

The program is very easy to use, and it seems to implement good security features. It keep things to the basic, and keep them smart. Synchronisation is at file level only on the Pocket PC, so make sure to not modify the file format or contents in both Pocket PC and Windows platforms in between synchronisations, because this will cause a file synchronisation problem and you'll have to decide which version to keep. VisKeeper is fast and certainly does not require much skills to dominate completely and use it at full potential. Having the program available on Palm OS and Pocket PC makes it easy to migrate from one platform to the other, if the user requires this - and believe me this kind of feature is important. Definetly VisKeeper is a program to evaluate if you're looking for password and information keeping on your mobile device.

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