TrueCrypt & file encryption

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TrueCrypt is dead

We used to recommend TrueCrypt as an effective file encryption solution, suitable for exchanging data sets over untrusted networks as well as for medium-term offline storage or backups.

Unfortunately, over the last few weeks it has become clear that the TrueCrypt authors have withdrawn their support for the product; and while the source code is available (and is actively being audited), it is not Open Source licensed, and should not be used in the future. TrueCrypt is effectively dead.

What should I do?

What does this mean for people who are currently using TrueCrypt? I’d recommend that you migrate your data out of TrueCrypt and into some other format; not in a rush, because there are no currently-known attacks or vulnerabilities in the product, but in a well-planned way. You should not start any new storage schemes using TrueCrypt.

What alternatives are there?

There doesn’t seem to be any useable and “free” software that does everything that TrueCrypt did, but most people we talk to don’t actually need all of those features at the same time anyway.

We are currently recommending the 7z archive format with AES encyption as a solution to :-

  • Cross-platform support
  • Protection in transit (email, dropbox, etc); sharing
  • Medium-term storage on untrusted media

Please be aware that University-owned data should always be accessible by the University itself; so if the only copy of your data is encrypted in this way, the passphrase used as the key needs to be made (securely) available to the appropriate people (usually your employment line management).

7z?

7z is the file format originally implemented by the Open Source 7-Zip file archiver, it is publicly described and there are now multiple software implementations available. It is currently regarded as the ‘best’ performing compression software available. Read more on the Wikipedia entry. Command-line users might like the p7zip implementation, packaged in Debian and the EPEL repository for RedHat.

7z applications usually do not use encryption by default; make sure that you select this option for secure storage.

 

This entry was posted in Backups, Encryption and tagged by Jim Cheetham. Bookmark the permalink.

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