What’s up with TrueCrypt?

TrueCrypt is a free encryption application that runs on Windows, Mac OS, and other platforms. I’ve suggested its use before to aid lawyers in securing data stored in various cloud services. Heck, there’s even an iOS app that can open TrueCrypt vaults, Disk Decipher.

Recently, though, TrueCrypt appeared to pull the plug on itself, suggesting users migrate to BitLocker for Windows and using encrypted disk images for Mac OS X. People wondered, is this a joke, a hacking incident, or the real thing? Security guru Steve Gibson predicts the plug being pulled is probably the real thing.

The biggest question is: Can we still safely use TrueCrypt? Fortunately, the answer appears to be yes, and Steve Gibson has done the world a huge favor by creating an archive where users can download the last fully working versions of the software.

As we learn more and more about the NSA and other government agencies around the world spying on communications and information that have nothing to do with terrorism, crime, or anything else remotely relevant to public safety, we have to be mindful that encryption tools are critical. Sorting through all of the various claims by developers (“Our product is impossible to crack!”) can be a headache unless you have a Ph.D. in math and can understand the encryption algorithms being used. TrueCrypt is (was) a known application with a long history of not being broken by hackers.

It’s good to know that it is still safe to use.

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