[Windows] BCTextEncoder is a portable cryptography tool that encodes and decodes text

BCTextEncoder UIWith all this news that big brother is watching everything we do in the tech world –as if that was never a possibility in the first place- it certainly leaves many wondering what they can do to protect themselves. Realistically, there’s only one answer even if it isn’t the most secure option and it involves encryption. Cryptography is the practice of hiding text messages in some way or another that only the sender and recipient can decipher. We’ve covered cryptography tools at dotTech before, and even featured a piece that actually discusses the best tools available. BCTextEncoder is a similar cryptography tool that is portable and lightweight, and handles only text based content. Let’s check out if it is worth your time.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

BCTextEncoder encrypted messageBCTextEncoder is a portable Windows application that allows you to encrypt basic text messages thanks to a password-based system. As long as the recipient and sender both have the encryption key or certificate the message can be deciphered and read. Of course, you just need to figure out a way to send the key without big brother listening in. In that case, you would probably want to use the good ol’ fashioned pen and paper method to pass the key, before starting any conversations. If distance is an issue, then that option is out of the question, but there are alternate –and clever- ways of passing said information back and forth.

Pros

  • Can encode and decrypt plain text messages
    • You can lock down the message through a personal password or public/paired key
  • It includes an integrated encryption key generator
    • Keys can be imported or exported as necessary
  • It’s portable and lightweight, that’s always a plus

Cons

  • You could consider the limitations a con if you were looking for a more comprehensive cryptography tool (steganography is a similar practice)
  • Both the sender and the recipient need to have the program available

Discussion

BCTextEncoder download pageI can’t speak for other download locations, but if you download BCTextEncoder from the official website it comes as a single executable file. You do not need to extract any compressed archives to gain access to the tool. It’s as simple as downloading the executable and opening it right up. Once downloaded, you can store the related exe on your computer or a portable drive for travel.

It’s worth noting that I did not encounter any bloatware or additional software when downloading the tool either. You will have to navigate to the developer’s [Jetico’s] download page and then select “free tools” in order to find the app.

In terms of how the app works, it’s pretty straightforward like most of the programs I review. You enter the plain text and choose an encryption method, then press “encode”. Adversely, you would enter the encrypted message and press “decode”. You can also save both the encrypted or decrypted message as a text file. This allows you to send just the file or store it for later. There’s an additional option to send the encoded text by email.

BCTextEncoder password entryYou can encode the message with a personal password, or you can apply a public key thanks to the integrated key manager. If you opt to use a password it must be longer than 8 characters since the app uses AES-256 bit encryption methods. There’s no mention of the 8 character requirement in a system message, but you will see a warning if you try to enter a password smaller than that.

You can let the program generate a public key or secret key pair for you, or you can import an existing one. It goes without saying that you can import and export keys via external files. You can also assign a custom storage directory for the related keys, which is a great feature to have if you’re using the app on a portable drive. During creation of the key, you can choose the encryption algorithm (RSA, or RSA generate safe prime), enter a key size, designate a friendly name and enter a password.

It’s worth noting that when entering text into either the encode, or decode fields you can copy+paste with the Windows clipboard if necessary.

As the name implies, BCTextEncoder just handles text based messages, and that’s it. If you want to use other methods which include images (steganography), or similar features then you should look elsewhere.

If you save the encoded message as a file, it generates a plain text file with something like the following:

-----BEGIN ENCODED MESSAGE-----
Version: BCTextEncoder Utility v. 1.00.7

wy4ECQMCRz+Cvs3Lyddg+JtQ2VY2egQ6izL5NohGAB4IG/fUWnegKuziUuky+bNw
0lEBWsUFkJ9hgF7FtSLaBIios6xq1K81fJmMBQHPbcUjWCosUMoXmuF18qpgyv+F
G0tXM0yvuOk0KREs1AXuf6lW0VySkFbxSjLYoIfHc1YpinU=

-----END ENCODED MESSAGE-----

BCTextEncoder key generatorIf you take that encoded message and enter it into the encoded text field in the app, and then press decode it will ask for the password. Instead of outright telling you what that encrypted message says, I’ll just give you the password (which is pretty simple). Check out the encoded message for yourself if you wish, by copying and pasting the above text into the encoded text field and entering the following password:

12345678

If you have the message figured out, try to keep it out of the comments below. It’s not exactly a secret, but it will spoil the fun for others. That is, of course, if you find amusement in that sort of thing.

For reference, BCTextEncoder uses less than 1MB of RAM while running, so it’s safe to say that it’s pretty lightweight.

Conclusion and download link

BCTextEncoder encrypted message text fileBCTextEncoder is a portable and lightweight cryptography tool that allows you to encode basic text messages. You can encrypt the messages with a password or public/paired key. If you’re creating the key from scratch, the app includes a key generation wizard. If you’re decoding a message from someone, you can import keys, which can be saved and sent as an external file. The app itself is pretty easy to use, as you just enter a message, choose an encryption lock (password or key), and then press “encode”. Adversely, decoding a message is just as simple. Both the recipient and sender will need access to the application to pass messages back and forth, but since it’s readily accessible and free that’s not a stretch to make happen. It’s incredibly lightweight too, considering it uses less than 1MB of RAM while running.

If you need an app that allows you to encode/decode text easily, check this one out. However, remember this app only works with plain text messages, so if you’re looking for a more advanced tool which employs images or comprehensive support you’ll have to inquire elsewhere — like dotTech’s review of best free steganography programs on Windows.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.00.7

Supported OS: Windows 2000, 2003, 2008, XP, Vista, Seven

Download size: 1.20MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/47

Is it portable? Yes

BCTextEncoder homepage

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18 comments

  1. DoktorThomas

    The NSA and associated collateral nations (UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Canada and more) is exhaustive and extensive. In addition certain swarthy companies (Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple) have actively assisted in the world-wide data mining. If you are living in one of the offending countries or use products or software from the offending companies, you may as well publish your personal data and everything you do online in New York Times. All of the above named have been hacked, most repeatedly (the federal list of their hacked computers is large). Needless to say, everyone is encouraged not patronize the companies mentioned and to expatriate from the countries named.

    The software from ElcomSoft, a Russian provider, is encryption-cracking software that can and will crack any encryption in seconds. It appears to be used by all of the above mentioned countries and scores of others, although few admit its use. ElcomSoft has no comment.

    So taken together, the back doors provided by criminal software companies, intensive illegal spying by nations and offensive crack tools from Russia (many others exist for less official purposes), there is only one safe route to cyber-privacy: GET OFF THE INTERNET.

    However that 100% safe method defeats the purpose of having a vital Internet which empowers people world-wide to fight the tyranny routinely dispensed by governments. So it is as The Juice Media and I have said for a decade, The People must retain control and possession of the Internet. “He who controls the data controls the future.” Governments must be counteracted, restrained and opposed WRT the WWW world and personal freedoms.

    If the goal of the software in this article is your desired goal, obfuscation of your personal communications, it is submitted that mere encryption alone is grossly insufficient. Do not depend on this option by any software company to stop the illegal prying of lazy paranoid politicians into your personal life and communications.

    While I might suggest total disassociation, use and purchasing of all products from the above named unholy corporations, as good as that advice maybe it doesn’t effectively counteract transgressions by the evil empires. That can be done only by thinking out side of the box of normal low information computer users and their mundane practices. Identifying those uses here merely arms NSA with a jump start on counteracting those conventions. Also treating your peers who whore themselves to government work as lepers. No reasonable intelligent individual should ever willingly work for government. [Exceptions purposely omitted.] And in short everyone should oppose the USSA [sic].

    Students and software writers should be entirely focused designing and writing programs that protect users from surveillance from all quarters. One key approach is development of virtual windows environments that can or automatically securely erase user tracks on each use and
    /or do not write to the C drive or any other drive. The more hundreds of unique user environments employed the more unwieldy and immense the government spy software must be. For example an virtual OS that writes itself based on the one or all of the internal components. Surely we inventors can out write governments’ ability to adapt.

    Cloud storage is laughingly unsecure and commercial US providers should never be considered. The same for host servers if you do not have your own; US hosts cower to fed.gov and its band thugs at DOJ. Every violation is fair game for the dreaded Jim Crow Party and its Government Plantation [the Obama administration].

    Imagine if an email provider with over 425 million active users worldwide had every user store 15G of random characters for the sinister NSA to store and decode. “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”–Ayn Rand

    DISCLAIMER: use of any such ideas, design or software to commit crimes or infringe on the rights of other citizens is expressly discouraged. This a principled based situation: government cannot mistreat law abiding citizens to further their illegitimate ends and faux needs.

  2. Louis

    [@Ashraf] I suppose you could, especially if the stego also includes encrypting the message, but I’ve always understood stego to specifically refer to concealing a message e.g inside another file, not (necessarily) encrypting it,

    — where-as encrypting doesn’t necessarily include hiding the encrypted file (unless you’re using the “plausible deniability” feature of say Truecrypt to ‘hide’ your real encrypted data beneath another visible layer of useless encrypted data).

    But yes, it’s probably being over-technical :-)

  3. Briley Kenney
    Author/

    —–BEGIN ENCODED MESSAGE—–
    Version: BCTextEncoder Utility v. 1.00.7

    wy4ECQMCRz+Cvs3Lyddg+JtQ2VY2egQ6izL5NohGAB4IG/fUWnegKuziUuky+bNw
    0lEBWsUFkJ9hgF7FtSLaBIios6xq1K81fJmMBQHPbcUjWCosUMoXmuF18qpgyv+F
    G0tXM0yvuOk0KREs1AXuf6lW0VySkFbxSjLYoIfHc1YpinU=
    —–END ENCODED MESSAGE—–

    Above, WordPress adds spaces between the encoded text.

  4. Briley Kenney
    Author/

    [@Ashraf] Either is fine. I was just going to throw a simple text file on Google Drive and include the link. If you can get the code tags working correctly it would save readers the hassle of having to download a file.

  5. Briley Kenney
    Author/

    [@greg] Did you include the entire message? You have to copy everything from “Begin encoded message” to “End encoded message”. It works fine for me. When I paste the entire thing into the decode box and press “decode” it asks for a password.