With the release of our Autospark feature we thought it would be a good time to walk through how you can set it up and why you may want to use it. Autospark is an encryption feature designed to automate the task of encrypting for you while being compatible with other Wave encryption methods. The setup will take less than two minutes and you can follow along below. Underneath this text you'll see a screenshot of my "C://Program Files/Wave Industries/Spark Encryption" folder:
Autospark is not enabled by default. Additionally you will need an admin password to allow automated encryption. This is for safety as allowing a lower level user to automatically encrypt all the directories they choose can lead to security issues. To enable Autospark, right-click on the install.bat and left-click on "Run as admin". This will cause a command prompt similar to the one below to open:
Then supply the password for the user and hit "Enter". It should look like the image below:
This screen will let you know that the task has been successfully created. If the password was typed wrong or there were any errors, this screen will let you know. These must be resolved before Autospark will be enabled. If you cannot resolve these issues please email us at email@example.com and we will help you resolve the issue.
Autospark uses a task that runs once a minute. If you would like to change how often Autospark runs you can change the Autospark.xml file settings, you can edit the task in Task Scheduler, or you can run your own command. All of these options are out of the scope of this article.
To tell Autospark what directories to encrypt, you have a file called encryptdirectory.txt that holds your list of locations. for each new location, simply make a new line and supply the full path. For example, you may have
This mean that every file under every folder in those directories will be automatically encrypted. Because of this C:\ESD\Test\ and C:\ESD\Example\ will also be encrypted. There is no need to specify each underlying folder or file, making this super easy to use.
Let me show you an example of how this may work. I have a very important directory on my D drive. As you can see above, it is listed under my encryptdirectory.txt file. Below is a picture of it before I enabled Autospark:
Next, I enabled Autospark and it encrypted that directory automatically. I also placed a JPG image in the folder. You can see the encrypted files were all encrypted at 4:07 PM.
The JPG was automatically encrypted and the other files that were previously encrypted were left untouched as you can see in the image below:
Our users have several options to decrypt their files for use. The first way is to drag and drop the encrypted files onto sparkcc.exe. This method is the fastest and generically the most convenient. However, because some directories may have hundreds or thousands of files, it may be necessary to decrypt the directory in an automated fashion. We include a tool named autosparkdecrypt.exe, which finds encrypted files in the directories it is deployed on and decrypts them. Simply enter the full path of the directories to decrypt in decryptdirectory.txt, identical to how they are done in the encryptdirectory.txt and then save and double click on autosparkdecrypt.exe.
So why is Autospark such a great way to encrypt? The first reason is that it is automated! Your directories and anything you place in them will be encrypted without you or your users doing anything once it is installed and setup. The second reason is you can treat your files like normal and move them to any drive or directory, email them, or upload them to the cloud, and they are already encrypted. Furthermore they will all be compatible with all of your other Spark apps like the web app, sparkcc.exe, wavecline.exe, and more. The scalable automation aspect makes it much easier to implement encryption into your workflow and does not disrupt productivity.
We are very excited to have added Autospark to our toolset and it is already the favorite feature among many of our users. If you have any issues, would like to share how you use Spark, or would like to request a feature please let us know!
With the release of our new encryption product we thought it may be a good time to explain what encryption is, why it is important, and how using Spark Encryption can help you keep your data safe.
Encryption is the process of encoding a message (called plaintext or PT) following an algorithm in a way that only those with the key can decode (making a ciphertext or CT). This theoretically makes it so improbable to decrypt that it could not be done in a reasonable timeframe (think millions or billions of years).
There are two main forms of encryption. Encryption at-rest and in-transit. At-rest encryption allows you to encrypt files and data while it is on your device or system. If you transmit that file, it is encrypted but will not be automatically decrypted when it arrives at the other side. In-transit encryption encrypts the file as it leaves your device and decrypts it when it arrives at its destination. Encrypted texting is an example of this.
Once you have decided what kinds form of encryption you need, you need to look at the encryption itself. There are three primary attributes when looking at an encryption scheme:
The first is the cipher. The cipher is the algorithm that is followed when transforming your data from plaintext to ciphertext, and vice versa. For example, the most common in modern times is called AES (originally known as Rijndael), which stands for the advanced encryption standard. There are many good ciphers, however for most purposes, a version of AES is best for compatibility and compliance.
The second is the mode. The mode is how the cipher is applied to the data you are encrypting. The two modes we will talk about today are known as the Electronic Codebook (EBC) and Counter (CTR) modes. The EBC mode is the most straight forward, as the cipher is applied to 16 bytes of data at a time in a liner manner. This is no longer recognized as secure however because it has no randomness. There is a famous example of this insecurity, with Tux the Linux bird on the left, and a picture encrypted with the EBC mode on the right:
You may notice that the penguin is still visible. This is because each block, while transformed, still makes up a non random picture. The CTR mode applies the AES cipher to each byte instead of blocks of bytes, and then uses a counter to ensure that the same form is not repeated for a long time. Some of the benefits are that it is faster, more secure, the data looks different every time it is encrypted, and two pieces of different data can look identical, making guessing that much more difficult. Below is an image encrypted with the CTR mode:
Finally, there is the key-size. The key-size is extremely important because it (usually) increases the strength of the algorithm. There are 2 to the power of n possible keys for a given encryption scheme, with n being the key-size. For example, 128-bit AES has 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 possible keys. To guess your key, an attacker has to try up to that many keys. Yes, that is a HUGE number. However, 256-bit AES is even stronger. And it is not twice as strong. It is 128 factor as strong. The attacker in this scenario would have to try 115,792,089,237,316,195,423,570,985,008,687,907,853,269,984,665,640,564,039,457,584,007,913,129,639,936 keys, which is far more than the number of molecules in the entire universe. The benefit for you? No one is brute forcing your 256-bit key.
Who should be using encryption? Well the easy answer is everyone. Large companies, governments, and organizations mine your data to gather information on you. Criminals use malware to steal your or your customers files and records. While everyone can benefit, there are certain industries that can benefit more than others from using encryption. The financial sector is a huge one. Real estate agents, for example, collect addresses, social security numbers, taxpayer ID’s, email addresses, account numbers, and more from many of their clients. All 50 states plus the District of Colombia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands have laws that require anyone dealing with an individual’s private information to notify them if their information becomes exposed. This can also open the agent up to legal action. This is to say nothing of that individual’s information now being out there to be used against them.
Another industry requiring encryption is law. Discovery and evidence in law can contain the most intimate and private of details, many of which are legally required to be kept in confidence between the attorney and client. Let’s say an attorney’s laptop is breached and a discovery is stolen. All the details in the case are now in the control of someone other than the attorney. This has breached attorney client privilege and it means others may learn details of a case. If this was a civil matter, how much would a large company pay to have the entire plaintiff or defendant’s case? Does this sound far-fetched? A recent American Bar Association report stated “26% of respondents report that their firms have experienced some sort of security breach” in 2019. That means over a quarter of law firms are breached per year.
But what makes Spark better than the competition? Our web app allows our partners to use encryption from anywhere. You may be on a business trip and not have access to your primary computer, allowing you to use encryption from public workstations. Perhaps you are on a computer you cannot install software on, and still require encryption. Spark can also retain the initial file extensions so large providers like Google and Dropbox cannot discriminate against your data, for example by saying they will not allow you to upload encrypted files. It also prevents them from mining and selling your data because it is unreadable.
Spark Encryption is also incredibly easy to use, with one step decryption and automatic encryption available. Spark uses the maximum key-size possible for each cipher we support, uses the Counter mode for encryption, and is astoundingly fast.
Good modern encryption like Spark takes advanced steps to stop decryption. One example we use is called a nonce. This is a number that the rest of the algorithm is factored off, making the ciphertext of a message look different each time it is encrypted, but can always be decrypted using the correct key. Consider the example below:
Encrypting the text “This is a secret.” with AES creates the ciphertext “S9Ï¤ý+—Ž‘í¯½—3i8óõR@%Ð D+¢6d¥y”.
Encrypting the text "This is a secret." again creates the ciphertext “H¼€ðÆÙÊ°6úQ»SªFO‰“A%hŽÙÎª½Ì‑ðS¿œEp”.
Why is that important? Attackers cannot try all possible plaintexts and know your message when the ciphertext matches. This also provides forward security for future messages.
This is just one example of the measures Spark takes to secure your data. Head over to our Operation Spark page and get started!
In our modern society, it is important to learn how to protect ourselves. No matter your stance on the subject, education on the topic will only improve your ability to make informed decisions both in your safety and the safety of friends and family. Body armor is a self defense tool, similar to a knife, firearm, taser, baton, or something else. While body armor is effective on it's own, it is important to have both sides of the equation. Just as a car has a brake and an accelerator, and both perform their functions separately, they function better together. However, to understand how body armor works, we must first understand what it is we are protecting against. Firearms.
What is a firearm?
A firearm is a tool that forces a projectile down a barrel by controlled explosion (explosions are events of rapidly expanding and high-pressured gas). There are two types of explosions, conflagration (supersonic) and deflagration (subsonic). Modern firearms almost always work off cartridges that deflagrate, and other methods are outside of the scope of this article.
What is a cartridge?
While it can be called many things such as a round, bullet, or cartridge, this article will refer to them as a cartridge. A cartridge is a culmination of a projectile (what actually leaves the gun), casing (holds the other components), powder (the propellent that becomes the gas and by extension the driving force of the projectile) , and primer (a smaller more sensitive explosive designed to begin the deflagrating explosion) as shown below:
Projectile: what leaves the gun
Casing: Holds the other components
Powder: The propellent that becomes the gas and by extension the driving force of the projectile)
Primer: A smaller more sensitive explosive designed to begin the deflagrating explosion)
When a firearm is fired, a pin or striker hits the primer which explodes, and ignites the powder. The powder begins to deflagrate and rapidly converts into a gas. This sudden change into a less compact state of matter forces the projectile out of the casing. There are many more intricacies to this process such as atmospheric pressure, temperature, powder type, projectile weight, how far the bullet is seated, chamber pressure, pressure inside the casing, etc. but once again, these will be covered in future articles. One thing to note is that while there are explosions in the firearm they are noting to be afraid of and as long as you follow the manufacturer specification on the pressure of your ammo, you will be safe save for extremely catastrophic design failures.
Once the cartridge has been fired, the bullet will travel down a barrel. A barrel is a straight, usually metal tube. When it is rifled it puts spin on the bullet which helps it be more accurate, similar to the spin on a football. One notable instance where this is usually absent is in shotguns which are called smoothbore firearms.
Once a projectile leaves a firearm, it always hits something whether it is the ground or a target. It is important to remember projectiles do not just disappear! Modern weapons make it easy on us as they are all relatively accurate and shoot in a straight line (but not a straight trajectory) from where the barrel is pointing. Always ensure you know what is in front of your barrel and never put your finger on the trigger unless you intend to shoot.
Now we get into the more difficult part of determining how a projectile will interact with the target it strikes. There are several things to consider, and many times they are best to compare to each other, not in a vacuum.
The energy a bullet has is measured by the formula
E is the total energy in foot pounds
M is the mass of the projectile in grains (there are 7,000 grains in 1 pound)
V is the velocity of the projectile in feet per second
*the divisor converts the equation into foot pounds
For example, a 180 grain 7.62x51 traveling at 2,700 feet per second would produce about 2913 ft/lbs of force, and a 200 grain 7.62x51 traveling at 2,700 feet per second would produce about 3236 ft/lbs of force. This is a convenient way to compare these two loads, however velocity and mass are usually inversely proportional although not directly so. Most of us also cannot guess what 3,000 ft/lbs of force applied over 7.62 mm would feel like or do, so again it is best to use for comparison.
A bullet with greater energy, all other things being equal, will do more damage to what it strikes. Another formula we can use is to find something called sectional density, or how dense it is for its size
SD is the sectional density
M is the mass in grains
D is the diameter of the projectile
For example, those same 7.62x51 loads would come out to an SD of .271 for the 180-grain load, and an SD of .301 for the 200-grain. This shows that if all other things are kept equal, the 200-grain bullet would penetrate better than the 180-grain. You can also see using the previous equation that it produces over 300 ft/lbs more of force than the 180-grain.
In the modern era, there are a few methods of operation firearms generally follow. Think of it as the difference between manual and automatic cars. They work differently but they achieve the same general purpose.
Bolt action: After every round, the user must cycle a bolt manually, loading the next round from the magazine (covered below).
Semi-automatic: The firearm cycles itself after each round, and fires one round per operation of the trigger. This is it. It is not a weapon of mass destruction or pure evil.
Automatic: The firearm cycles itself after each round and fires more than one round per operation of the trigger. Note that this could mean two, or three, it does not have to fire until your magazine is empty.
Pump action: The user must manually cycle the action after each round, usually found on shotguns but it has recently become more popular in rifles again.
Single shot: The user must load a round into the weapon after each shot.
Note: There are more methods like rotary and lever action, but they are not nearly as commonly encountered.
Two more features modern firearms usually have are a magazine and a muzzle device. Magazines are places where cartridges are held. The two kinds are external and internal. External magazines are much more popular as they can be extended, quickly swapped, and if they fail, they are cheaper to replace. These allow users to reload quicker and to quickly swap between types of ammunition. Internal magazines are held inside the gun and are slower to reload as you must load each individual round, although I suppose you cannot lose internal magazines. Muzzle devices modify the end of a barrel to receive some desired effect. They usually do this by manipulating the gas that exits the barrel. Suppressors catch and slow the gas to reduce noise, muzzle brakes redirect it to reduce recoil, and flash hiders disperse the gas to reduce signature.
Now that we know how the firearms and projectiles work, it is easy to explain how body armor works. Soft armor works by spreading out the force over a larger area, reducing the bullets sectional density. This reduces or stops the penetration of the bullet and saves the wearer from having holes poked in vital areas. One common misconception is that it will not hurt, but just like the projectile, the kinetic energy does not disappear! It is still transferred into the armor, but it is spread out over a larger area, reducing the damage to the end user. Hard body armor works by being harder than the bullet, deflecting or shattering the projectile. It also does disperse the force over a wider area, but it does not work because of this principle. Soft armor will only realistically stop handgun rounds, and hard armor will stop both handgun and rifle rounds. There are exceptions such as ceramics, and hybrids but those will be covered in another post.
Answering some common questions:
Here at Wave Industries, we have received some questions repeatedly and I would like to take a crack at answering two of them
Does body armor fail?
Yes. Body does fail, and it relies on myriad of factors. For example, how was the armor stored? Has it been shot or dropped? Has it been exposed to harmful chemicals? Has it been kept in the trunk of a car in Death Valley? Did the shooter use rounds designed to penetrate armor? Did the shooter use a wildcat round that has a very specific ballistic profile (6.5x25 CBJ I’m looking at you and your beautiful designs)? Was the armor rated to stop the cartridge it encountered? There are far too many variables to account for when manufacturing body armor.
To reduce the likelihood of this occurring, the user can do several things.
1. Decide what you are likely to encounter and be honest. When picking your body armor, you must decide between hard and soft armor, what format you would like it in, and what weight you are comfortable with. If you decide on Level III+ hard plates and a vest, to achieve protection you must be okay with wearing 10 or more pounds in a large bulky vest each day. If you are likely to encounter rifle wielding enemies, this makes sense. However, you are much more likely (22.23 times as likely, see below) to encounter handguns. If your armor is lighter, flexible and more comfortable you are less likely to decide “I just don’t need it today”. Only you know your situation and it is up to you to figure it out. You may also consider bag inserts as they can weigh as little as 8 ounces and you may not even notice a difference daily.
2. Take care of your armor. Body armor is an investment in your protection, and it can save your life. It is important to take care of it in return by following your manufacturers instructions and treating it as gently as possible. It will not break if you sneeze on it but try to avoid dropping it from 20 feet in the air. Do not bend your armor like a piece of paper either, it can weaken along the fold lines.
3. Pick armor that stops what you carry. If you carry a firearm or taser, ensure that if you should be unlucky and have it used against you, you are protected. For example, if you carry a 9mm handgun, ensure your armor stops 9mm. Likewise if you carry a 5.56x45 all day, ensure you have level III plates that would stop your cartridge. And if you are that guy that happens to carry a .338 Lapua Magnum, or .416 Barret make sure you have Boron Carbide and a whole lot of luck if it is ever used against you.
4. Do not give up. Body armor is a complicated topic and unfortunately the answer is almost always “it depends”. One thing you can be reassured of though is that your chances of being safe are almost always better with it and are never hindered by having it. Lucky this industry has many knowledgeable professionals and you should never hesitate to reach out if you have a question.
Why is there so much legislation targeted at rifles?
This will be a long one. The answer is, well, we don’t know. It could be due to common misconceptions. Ask yourself, what type of firearm is most often used in mass shootings? Did you come up with an answer? Was it “assault rifles”? If so, you would be incorrect.
For every rifle used, there are 2.56 handguns used. Handguns also lend themselves better to concealment. It takes a large person to conceal a weapon that is 28-40 inches long, especially given that firearms do not bend (if your firearm bent, you have used it wrong) and it is unlikely that it would be overlooked. Despite media coverage, mass shootings actually cover a very small portion of shooting crimes in the United States, and a disproportionately high number of rifles are used. As you can see below, in general crime you are 5.1 times more likely to be killed by cutting instruments, 2.2 times as likely to be killed by fists or feet, and 1.49 times as likely to be killed by blunt objects. That is totally disregarding the fact that you are a willy whooping 22.23 times as likely to be killed by a handgun as a rifle.
The last factor I can think of is fear. One name most people recognize is "AR-15". Many people take AR-15 to mean the 15th assault rifle, or other such silliness. AR stands for Armalite, the original company to design this family of weapons, such as the AR-7, 10, 15, and 18. These platforms actually originated as early PDW's or personal defense weapons for aircraft survival crews who needed something light to defend themselves with. Modern day "AR's" are sporting rifles designed for "plinking" which is shooting holes in paper, or varmint hunting.
Assault rifles are select fire (read automatic) weapons and have been illegal to manufacture sine 1986 for civilian use, and weapons manufactured before then are subject to the NFA to be possessed. Only military and police officers can have the modern ones. Fortunately, since 1934, there have only been “two homicides committed with legally owned automatic weapons. One was a murder committed by a law enforcement officer”. It is interesting that not one legal select fire weapon has been used in a mass shooting, yet this is what legislation targets, and the words the media chooses.
2. FBI. "Number of Murder Victims in The United States in 2018, by Weapon." Statista, Statista Inc.
3. Mother Jones. "Weapon types used in mass shootings in the United States between1982 and August 2018" Statista, Statista Inc.
BOOM! The noise is the first thing you hear as you are aroused from your sleep. A quick glance at your clock tells you it’s still 3:25 AM. Obviously too early for garbage trucks or anything of the sort. You get out of bed to get some water when your heart stops; You can hear voices in your living room. Not the voice of your four-year-old son down the hall, but deep voices, and several of them at that. As a single mom living with her only child, his safety is of the utmost importance and you need to grab him and leave. You grab your handgun you bought when you first began living alone and crack your door so you can get a better view. As you peak down the hall you can see shadows. Moonlight filtering through the living room shows you three armed men rifling through your belongings. What you don’t know is these men are all convicted felons and illegally obtained their weapons. They begin to get curious about the rest of the house and start making their way down the hall towards you. You duck back in your room and call 911, quietly informing them of the situation in your home. They politely tell you the police will arrive in 8 minutes. Far too late, as by then the men will have taken whatever they wanted, up to and including the lives of you and your son.
You quickly throw your ballistic undershirt on and ensure your handgun is ready to go. You send your son a text:
“Hey buddy, lock your door and hide behind your backpack okay? And don’t come out until you hear our safe word”
It’s a good thing you bought him a ballistic insert for his backpack and had practice drills. You decide to wait the robbers out: Maybe they’ll leave? It’s possible, and if it avoids an armed confrontation it is certainly worth it. The men begin to plunder the closets by your foyer, and you worry if he will get the message in time. Almost simultaneously you hear the lock on his door slam home, and you know he is safe for now. Unfortunately for you, one of the robbers heard it too. They begin to slink down hall and to the outside of his room, one on each side. This is your first indication this isn’t their first go around. He tries the handle and prepares to kick it. This is bad!
You creak your door open just a tad more and one of the men makes eye contact with you. You both begin to raise your weapons and you see three flashes as his body makes a loud THUD on your floor. The other man runs back down the hall and grabs the third robber as they escape. Tinnitus has gotten the best of you and reduced your hearing to a loud ringing, and stars decorate your field of view. You breathe a sigh of relief but suddenly feel a twinge in your rib cage. Upon closer examination, you realize a round struck the undershirt you were wearing, saving you from a kidney shot that would certainly have been fatal.
No matter what we do, and what laws are passed, criminals will always get their hands on weapons. All we can do is protect ourselves and our loved ones. When something goes wrong you need a shield to go with your sword. The Wave Industries mission is to provide custom, quality armor that is comfortable and discreet enough to wear every day and to be used in a time of need. Not just body armor but armor you will wear is a vital part to this system. It is like a car. You need both the brakes and accelerator. Carbon ceramic brakes are nice, but if they don’t fit on your car or you don’t want to use them in everyday traffic, they are worthless. The same is true for hard and soft body armor. Hard body armor offers more protection but is heavy, thick, and rigid. Soft body armor will not stop rifle rounds however in daily crime, the overwhelming majority of murders are committed with a handgun, as seen in the chart below.
Additionally, if someone were to try and take your life, it is most likely going to be with a firearm (next is stabbing which we can protect against as well).
And not all crimes become fatal. There is a large volume of violent firearm crimes that are non-fatal as seen below.
Wave Industries offers custom body armor fit to your protection and needs. Whether you need standalone clothes or shirts that can fit under casual or dress wear, we can handle your needs. We will work with you on your desired areas of protection and the threats you are most concerned about.
FBI. "Number of Murder Victims in The United States in 2018, by Weapon." Statista, Statista Inc.
FBI. "Percentage of Homicides by Firearm in The United States from 2006 to 2018." Statista, Statista Inc.
US Bureau of Justice Statistics. "Number of Non-fatal Firearm Crimes in The United States from 2000 to 2017 (in Thousands)." Statista, Statista Inc.