Truecrypt is a cross-platform, free disk encryption software for Windows and Unix-like operating systems. It is generally considered a good disk encryption software, and not too long ago, I wrote a tutorial that showed how to encrypt the Windows installation of a Windows-Linux dual-boot setup (see Dual-boot Fedora 18 and Windows 7, with full disk encryption configured on both OSs).
Truecrypt is said to be published under an open source license, but in some quarters, its license has not been accepted as a valid open source license. And some of those people believe it has a backdoor. Guess who is widely believed to be responsible for that backdoor.
In a recently published article on his blog (see Let’s audit Truecrypt!), Matthew Green, a cryptographer and research professor at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, wrote that:
The ‘problem’ with Truecrypt is the same problem we have with any popular security software in the post-September-5 era: we don’t know what we can trust anymore. We now have hard evidence that the NSA is tampering with encryption software and hardware, and common sense tells us that NSA is probably not alone. Truecrypt, as popular and widely trusted as it is, is a fantastic target for subversion.
But quite frankly there are other things that worry me about Truecrypt. The biggest one is that nobody knows who wrote it. This skeeves me out. As Dan Kaminsky puts it, ‘authorship is a better predictor of quality than openness’. I would feel better if I knew who the TrueCrypt authors were.
So that’s why Professor Green has launched a project to audit the Truecrypt code. It’s a challenging project with very specific objectives. And it will require many hands on deck. Details are available here.
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