Re: Passwords on Folders

From: *Vanguard* (no-email_at_no-spam.invalid)
Date: 02/09/04


Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2004 13:40:08 -0600


"Sal" said in news:ca8a01c3ef3c$1f8238d0$a101280a@phx.gbl:
> Does anyone know what are the pro's and con's of using
> passwords on folders? Also, does NT/windows 2000 allow
> you to use passwords on folders?
>
> I'm pretty sure using restrictions (Read, Write, Admin,
> etc...) is the proper way to procedure but I would like
> some insight on using passwords on folders if possible.
>
> Thank you.
> Sal

Windows NT/2000/XP do not natively let you set passwords on folders. There
are products you can buy and install that will do that. For example,
ZipMagic loads as an installable file system and makes .zip files look like
folders (and you can password protect .zip files). That's just one way.

Setting permissions on folders and files is okay within the instance of
Windows under which those permissions were defined. If you yank the drive
out of the computer and plug it into another computer running Windows, most
of the permissions are ignored. I think the Administrator account uses the
same SID (security identifier) across all NT-based versions of Windows.
However, any permissions based on user accounts won't be obeyed. The SID
used to track permissions on a file as to which user has those permissions
won't be known on the computer to where you hauled the drive. Since this
other instance of Windows doesn't know about the SID, it cannot obey the
permissions based on that unknown SID. You can also take ownership of the
file so you can then delete the unknown SID and add your own permissions
under that instance of Windows. So permissions are good but only while the
drive is still under the instance of Windows where the SIDs were defined
upon which those permissions were based. I suppose you could copy the SAM
(Security Accounts Manager) file to the other computer but you would be
sacrificing the SAM that was already there on that new computer (I haven't
heard of a mans of merging SAM files).

For best protection, use NTFS on your hard drives so you can then EFS
(Encryption File System). You can even configure EFS to allow only your
account to be able to read the folder and files and not let the
Administrator read them. Administrator could still take ownership or modify
permissions but it couldn't read the contents of the files. Be sure to
export your EFS security certificate. If you move that drive with
EFS-protected files to another computer (i.e., under a different instance of
Windows that doesn't have your EFS certificate), or if you restore
EFS-protected files from a backup onto a different computer, then you need
to import your EFS certificate so you can read those EFS-protected files
over there. If you don't export the EFS certificate, you have basically
locked the files and thrown away the key, so hopefully that instance of
Windows never has to be reinstalled or you don't have to move or restore the
EFS-protected files to another and different instance of Windows.

EFS is the way to go if you want to prevent anyone but yourself to read the
contents of your files even if you move the files to a different Windows
host or have to reinstall Windows and restore your files. Never EFS protect
the system files (i.e., don't apply EFS to %windir% or any subdirectory).
There's no point to EFS protect executable files (i.e., .exe) unless the
program is your own creation and you don't want anyone else to execute it or
disassemble it. EFS incurs a slight penalty in time due to the delay to
decrypt the file's contents.

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