Feb 7, 2008

New Version of TrueCrypt Out! Now With Full Hard Drive Encryption!

You all know of my love for TrueCrypt right? I mean, this is the software that caused some controversy a couple of months back between me and the nice people over at IronKey. Not to worry, I finally conceded in that debacle, but that doesn't change my opinion that TrueCrypt is one of the most awesome free encryption programs ever made.

I first discovered TrueCrypt back at my last company when I learned that the Network Security Manager was beta testing full hard drive encryption for company laptops. The program he was using costs upwards of $250 per license. I knew I could probably find something just as good for free. That is when I found TrueCrypt. Of course, at that time it didn't do full hard drive encryption (operating system and all), but it was still pretty cool. I liked the idea that I could put all of my porn...errr...important files on a fully encrypted USB stick, and not worry about it getting into the wrong hands.

TrueCrypt 5.0That has all changed in the new version (Now version 5.0). They have now introduced full hard drive encryption! Before, I used CompuSec for that, but one draw back is that in order to encrypt the drive, you had to reboot and let the encryption work over night, and during that time you couldn't use your machine. TrueCrypt's full hard drive encryption doesn't do that. It will encrypt in the background while you work!

Here is a full list of the new features:

New features:
  • Ability to encrypt a system partition/drive (i.e. a partition/drive where Windows is installed) with pre-boot authentication (anyone who wants to gain access and use the system, read and write files, etc., needs to enter the correct password each time before the system starts). For more information, see the chapter System Encryption in the documentation. (Windows Vista/XP/2003)

  • Pipelined operations increasing read/write speed by up to 100% (Windows)

  • Mac OS X version

  • Graphical user interface for the Linux version of TrueCrypt

  • XTS mode of operation, which was designed by Phillip Rogaway in 2003 and which was recently approved as the IEEE 1619 standard for cryptographic protection of data on block-oriented storage devices. XTS is faster and more secure than LRW mode (for more information on XTS mode, see the section Modes of Operation in the documentation).

    Note: New volumes created by this version of TrueCrypt can be encrypted only in XTS mode. However, volumes created by previous versions of TrueCrypt can still be mounted using this version of TrueCrypt.

  • SHA-512 hash algorithm (replacing SHA-1, which is no longer available when creating new volumes).

    Note: To re-encrypt the header of an existing volume with a header key derived using HMAC-SHA-512 (PRF), select 'Volumes' > 'Set Header Key Derivation Algorithm'.

Improvements, bug fixes, and security enhancements:

  • The Linux version of TrueCrypt has been redesigned so that it will no longer be affected by changes to the Linux kernel (kernel upgrades/updates).

  • Many other minor improvements, bug fixes, and security enhancements. (Windows and Linux)

Pretty cool stuff huh? If you are currently using TrueCrypt, check out this new version. If you have never heard of it before, you have got to check it out. There has never been a better time!

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