A Tour of Extreme Encryption

  1. Getting started:
  2. Two kinds of keys:
  3. Launch the program:
  4. The Home Page:
  5. If you click on the Encrypt Msg button, you will see:
  6. The message becomes an encrypted file:
  7. The message also becomes unrecognizable text:
  8. The Decrypt Message page:
  9. Encrypt a File:
  10. Decrypt a File:
  11. Are the encrypted and decrypted files the same?:

Getting started:

If you have not already reviewed the list of best practices, read and carry out these three items:

  1. Choose the Windows PC (personal computer) that you will use to encrypt and to decrypt your content.
  2. Make your choice whether or not to connect that PC to the Internet. (Disconnected is more secure, connected is more convenient.)
  3. Set that computer to show file extensions. Everything below will make more sense if you do.


Two kinds of keys:

If you have used MarpX Privacy™ you are already familiar with seven character keys that control privatizing files and messages, and later restoring the original content. Extreme Encryption™ is quite different; it uses a key which is a block of characters several hundred bytes long. Each block key is a file. Instead of writing in a key, you browse and select for one that has been supplied to you. These block-style keys are numbered. They have names that start with one or more letters, followed by a number and a ".key" file extension. Here is what you might see if you browse to the Keys directory in an Extreme Encryption™ flash drive:



Ideally each key is used only once to encrypt, and later by the intended recipient(s) to decrypt. Then that key is retired. Once-only use contributes immeasurably to security.


Here is a twist! Your group's one-time block keys may themselves be encrypted. That's partly to brush off hackers, partly to make it easier to distribute keys to members of your group. So if you have on hand an encrypted one-time block key that is encrypted, what do you do with it? Easy. Decrypt it with MarpX Privacy™ and the seven character key provided to you by your group leader or by someone who wants you to decrypt a file or message passed along to you. A block key might have had originally a name like MyKeys-00004.key. If your team leader asked for all the keys to be delivered in encrypted form, the name of that key (encrypted) would be MyKeys-00004.key.enc.txt. After you decrypt it, the name would be MyKeys-00004.decrypted.key. The original MyKeys-00004.key and the decrypted file MyKeys-00004.decrypted.key are of course identical. That means that you can select EITHER an original block key OR one that has been through encryption and decryption. Both work for what you need below.


The point: Before launching the Extreme Encryption™ program, check that you have on hand the one-time block keys that you will need. There is a copy of MarpX Privacy™ on your flash drive. Use it to decrypt any one-time block keys you will need that are still in encrypted form.


Launch the program:

Plug the flash drive containing Extreme Encryption™ into a USB port on the Windows PC that you will use to make your files and messages private and to restore the originals. Typically, a pop-up like this shows:



On the pop-up select and click on Open folder to view files. If there is no pop-up, click on the Windows Explorer icon (in Windows 10, the File Explorer icon), then navigate to the flash drive.



Highlight and double click on the Extreme directory. You will be shown a list of files within the Extreme directory.



Highlight and double click on ExtremeEncryption.exe. You will be shown the program's home page.


The Home Page:


Extreme Encryption™ starts at this navigation screen. When in doubt, click the Home button to return here. In this home page, you can switch between handling files and messages. You can also access the help pages (highly recommended) and the Exit button.


If you click on the Encrypt Msg button, you will see:


The large box lets you type in or paste a message that you would like to make private. Next below is an example in which 145 letters have been typed. It could just as easily been copied and pasted from within another file such as a word processor. Keep the length over 50 characters and under about 3000, which is roughly two double space typed pages. The 3500 figure allows extra for the strange things that HTML does to increase the count for some punctuation characters and line ends.



In the above illustration, a (tongue-in-cheek) message has been typed, and a one-time block key has been selected. IMPORTANT: IT'S UP TO YOU TO KEEP TRACK OF THE KEYS YOU USE. Paper and pencil is much more secure than making an online log; a hacker who found an online list of content and keys could get at all your content.


Click the large Encrypt Message button.


The message becomes an encrypted file:


The message is instantly made into a file. The file's location and name is provided as in the above screen. The location is normally in a "MyPrivacy" directory on the same drive as your Extreme Encryption™ program -- usually on your flash drive. The name is "Msg_" followed by a date stamp, and the double suffix ".enc.txt". Notice in the above that the month is included first as a number 01 to 12, then a three letter abbreviation. That way, the messages are listed in time order when you list what is in the MyPrivacy directory. 160038 means 38 seconds after 4:00 p.m. (16:00 in a 24 hour clock) The extension ".enc" means encrypted. The added extension ".txt" means that the entire message has been converted to letters and digits in a format called Base64.


The message also becomes unrecognizable text:


Encrypted messages are wrapped in text, so that they may readily be copied and pasted to email or to social media pages. Files attached to or spread in emails easily get past unfriendly spam filters. The instructions to copy and paste are shown on the page; the steps become second nature quickly.


The first time you run the program, try some experiments.

  1. See if you can make any sense out of the jumble of letters, digits, periods, and exclamation marks that make up an encrypted message. Bet you can't! If you can, you deserve a high paying job with the U.S. National Security Agency.
  2. If you have a Facebook page, write a message for friends. Copy and paste the message into your Facebook page, and phone a couple of team members to tell them the key you used. Ask them to go to the Decrypt Msg page in their copies of Extreme Encryption™, highlight, copy and paste your Facebook message and use the same key. They will get the message. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook will not get it.
  3. As an experiment, write a message, then highlight and copy it as in the box above. Then click on the Decrypt Msg button at the bottom of the page. More on this experiment below.


The Decrypt Message page:


Click on the Decrypt Msg button at the bottom of the Encrypt Msg page.



Let's assume you have highlighted a text-like segment including the <<< and >>> anchors, and you have used CTRL-C to copy it onto the Microsoft "clipboard". The large box on the Decrypt Message page is the place to take it. Click anywhere in the big box, click CTRL-V. Then browse and select the key file. The page will look like this:



Click on Decrypt Message.



Decrypted messages are turned into files. Here is the file name and where it is located. Notice the name ... same as the incoming message, except the .enc.txt double suffix has been removed, and the suffix is now ".decrypted.txt". The word ".decrypted" is added so that it does not overwrite the original message, and you can compare the two if you wish.


Click OK.



When you decrypt a message, you are shown the plain text, that is, the original message. (If there were any accented characters or special characters in the message, this step is skipped. But the full message is still in the file named above.)


There is a Home key at the bottom of the page. Click on that, then choose Encrypt File.


Encrypt a File:


Files are even easier to make private. So long as the file is somewhere between 50 bytes and 100,000,000 bytes, this version of Extreme Encryption™ will handle it. (Need something that does gigabyte size files? Contact us.)


Simply browse and select the file you want to make private.



Then select the block key that you want to use this time. There is also an option to wrap the encrypted version in text so that it can get through as an email attachment. That's useful, but it makes files up to fifty percent larger. This time we decide to check that box. The screen will look like this:



Click Encrypt This File and you will be shown...



... the location and name of the encrypted file. The name is the same as the input file, but with a file extension .enc PLUS a further extension .txt (because of the checkmark for text wrap).


Decrypt a File:


To arrive at this next screen, click the Home button and continue this tour by choosing Decrypt File.



Normally you would park the encrypted file in archives or send it to someone else. For this tour, let's simply decrypt the same file that was encrypted above. On the flash drive, browse to MyPrivacy and select SplitCSV.cpp.enc.txt.



Choose the same block key.



Click Decrypt File.



As always, you are shown the location and name of the result. Typically it is found in the MyPrivacy directory. The .enc file extension is gone and the word ".decrypted" appears before the current extension. In this case, it is a C++ source code file.


Are the encrypted and decrypted files the same?:

In this example, it's a C++ file...



Here it is, opened with Microsoft's Visual Studio:



Going back to the original file and opening that, it looks exactly the same. In reality, it more than looks the same. It IS the same. More on that in the technical note on what's in an encrypted file. Prove it to yourself with a file that you encrypt and then decrypt.


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