Data thieves defied by ENCRYPTSTICK

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Ed Rusnak CEO of ENC

Imagine you’re a medical technician and your laptop just got stolen… Imagine the stress over the fact that it contained samples of about a quarter of a million lab tests for reportable and communicable diseases, plus identifiable names and personal health numbers. Even worse, imagine your name is on the list.
In June 2009, Alberta Health Services (AHS) reported two physically locked down laptops stolen from a lab at the University Hospital. Within a month, in a separate incident, private medical files of 11,000 Albertans within AHS were put at risk as a virus intermittently took snapshots of screens of computers that access that data. The information could have been transmitted to locations unknown.
These are just two recent locals cases, but the phenomenon is worldwide. The Open Security Foundation’s gathers reported information about events involving the loss, theft or exposure of personally identifiable information—the statistics are mind-boggling.
“The loss of data is certainly a major concern for personal privacy, especially in health care, insurance and financial industries. For individuals, identity theft is becoming a more common threat,” states Ed Rusnak, CEO of ENC Security Systems. Based in Pitt Meadows, BC, the company provides solutions to secure and transfer personal and professional data.
“Not only can companies be adversely affected, the loss of information can spell ruin for families when banking and personal identity information falls into the hands of criminals.” Typically, most concerns are over the effect of the theft of the actual hardware… but the potential gain on the black market of the selling and actual use of stolen data would far exceed the nominal value of the equipment.
The problem isn’t limited to laptops and hacked databases. The proliferation of high capacity, pint-sized data storage devices—USB flash drives, memory sticks or keys, pen drives or thumb drives—increases exposure to data risk and creates potential goldmine for data thieves. According to the USB Flash Drive Alliance, from 2004 to 2008, the number of units sold rose from 59.5 million to 220 million, and the average capacity increased from 213MB to 1727MB. They can be seen hanging from key chains, belt loops, and lanyards around people’s necks. Too often, they are left unattended, plugged into the USB ports on computers.
“Things will get lost… things will get stolen. It happens every day.”
And, while Rusnak can’t help people safeguard devices from physical theft or loss, he can help them protect their data.
ENC has developed EncryptStick, an application that turns these low-cost, off-the-shelf flash drives into affordable, easy-to-use, highly secure data vaults. It prevents virtually any type of file—documents, videos, photos—or passwords from being stolen.
“Password protection is not enough. EncryptStick uses powerful 512 bit polymorphic encryption technology, which has never been broken or successfully hacked,” Rusnak proclaims proudly.
Encryption converts data into code by use of an algorithm that cannot be converted back or decrypted without a “key”. EncryptStick uses the unique ID or serial number of the flash drive as a part of those 512 bits of information to create that key. This, combined with the user’s password, makes it virtually impossible to be decoded.

To get EncryptStick, simply plug a flash drive into a USB port, purchase a license and download the software directly to it (not the host computer). Using the unique registration code, follow the instructions to create a master password.
“The password is not stored on ENC’s servers or on the computer. It’s directed to the flash drive and is known to only the user,” stresses Rusnak.
To use EncryptStick, plug the flash drive into the USB port. The software runs automatically. When the password is entered, the vaults become visible. Open existing vaults, create new vaults and easily encrypt or decrypt any file by right-clicking and selecting from a drop down menu, or simply dragging and dropping the files into the folders. EncryptStick also enables “encryption on the fly”—the ability to edit documents within vaults while the files are encrypted.
“And it’s fast. EncryptStick encrypts files at a rate 10 times faster that AES 256 (the federal government encryption standard) and takes up only 4MB of space.”
EncryptStick also allows users to maintain anonymity. “You can plug your encrypted flash drive into a public computer; when you remove it, it removes the temporary operating file so there is absolutely no footprint—no evidence of you being on that computer,” says Tim Sperling, President ENC.
And, even if someone were to gain physical access to the encrypted computer or see the vaults, without both the Encrypt-Stick flash drive inserted and the correct password, that information is coded and thus unreadable.
ENC anticipated that a flash drive could get lost or become inoperable (perhaps you ran it through the wash). As long as the original drive was registered, replace the flash drive, purchase a new ENC license, and the system will piggyback a new registration key on the old key, allowing access to existing vaults.

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Born in Vegreville, Alberta, Rusnak attended Strathcona Composite High School in Edmonton. His entrepreneurial roots sprouted in St. Albert when he started his first venture in the 1970s. For the most part, he worked in the oil and gas sector and related industries.
In 1997, the recently divorced Rusnak reconnected with Doris, a former classmate from Vegreville who had been widowed two years earlier. After a few months together in Edmonton, the couple relocated to her home in Pitt Meadows—where the possibility of year-round golf appealed to Rusnak.
The reality of a life of leisure soon waned. And, while flash drives are a recent phenomenon, application of encryption technologies is old hat to Rusnak. He soon founded AFI Inc., focusing his efforts on the oil and gas industry where he was the first to design a CSA approved electronic device for remotely monitoring well-heads on remote Northern Alberta sites via satellite.
“Our system replaced windup devices on a seven-day clock which was susceptible to things like wet paper and dried up ink and where we waited 60 days for results from a Calgary lab,” Rusnak recalls.
At that time, encryption technology was used to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the data transmitted rather than to address an issue of security. After 9/11, that all changed.
“We knew that we could encrypt analog and digital data through the unique ID or serial number of the processor.” Rusnak admitted this direction was inevitable but sold the company in 2003 before being able to implement it. He realized that he could use the same methodology on flash drives as he could with the processors on the remote well head monitors.
“Most people were using flash drives for storage. It can be more—and it is.” In 2005, he started ENC and, by late 2006, EncryptStick was ready to roll. The timing couldn’t have been better, but things went sideways. According to Rusnak, a company he did some work for claimed that ENC was using its technology. The time to defeat the public claim “…put us behind two-and-a-half years after we announced the product. NAIT, among others (possible licensees) who were prepared to move forward, had walked away. They had no choice.”
Crisis created opportunity: It gave Rusnak time to enhance EncryptStick—adding a password manager to store sensitive log-ins securely… an automatic session time-out for drives left unattended… and protection from common hacking techniques like keystroke-logging.
Finally, in May 2009, Rusnak and ENC received a letter of apology and a retraction of the statement and allegations that were made, allowing the official release of EncryptStick to take place.
At 69, Rusnak is certainly not ready to retire. “I’m having too much fun.” In fact, he’s as energetic as ever. He’s looking at even more ways to add functionality. His team is working on version 4.2 that adds enhancements for Windows 7. Versions for Mac and Linux operating systems are just about done.
And while he seems to have come upon a pot of gold, for Ed, it’s not just about the money. “I want to change the entire thinking of the world and to help keep in the forefront of your mind how valuable your data is to you.”
That’s why Rusnak has created this revolutionary, yet easy-to-use product at an affordable price of $39.99US, while offering free updates for the life of the product.
And, it comes at no surprise that he has more ideas, more products at various stages of development. Rusnak chuckles.
“If you’re can’t live on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.” √

Explore posts in the same categories: Edmonton Tech Community, Edmonton Technology, Greg Gazin

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One Comment on “Data thieves defied by ENCRYPTSTICK”

  1. I’ve been using encryptstick ( for 3 years now and every release is getting better and better. It keeps all data stored on my USB stick secure and works well on the Mac and on Windows. The build in password manager and privacy manager are a great help, especially as I have many passwords to remember

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