TrueCrypt Has Been Audited! Should You Use It? – The Mac Security Blog

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TrueCrypt Has Been Audited! Should You Use It?

Posted on April 6th, 2015 by Joshua Long
TrueCrypt audit
close to a year ago, I wrote an article entitled “ TrueCrypt is dead ; What Does This Mean for Mac Users ? ” after the developers of the source-available * phonograph record encoding software abruptly terminated the project.

It might surprise readers, then, to see late headlines about the second phase of TrueCrypt ’ s security audit having been completed. What ’ s the point of auditing software that ’ s no longer being developed ? Is TrueCrypt in truth dead ?
Let ’ s address the second interrogate beginning. The short answer is that, yes, TrueCrypt itself is dead in the smell that it ’ s not being developed anymore by its master creators .
It is extremely unlikely that there will ever be another official version of the software under the trademarked TrueCrypt list ( and if one should ever surface, it would be viewed with such intense incredulity after last class ’ mho hubbub that very few people would likely use it ) .
But some people view TrueCrypt ’ s death more positively : “ TrueCrypt is dead ; long live TrueCrypt. ”

Long live TrueCrypt?

TrueCrypt-logo One subset of those people includes the die-hard believers in TrueCrypt who continue to view it as the best software of its kind, in cattiness of public concerns about its security. Some silent prefer it over Microsoft and Apple ’ s built-in full-disk encoding alternatives ( e.g. Windows ’ BitLocker and OS X ’ s FileVault 2, respectively ; more about the latter former ) ascribable to paranoia about whether these major U.S.-based corporations may be behold to—or compromised by—the politics or news agencies such as the NSA .
placid others continue using TrueCrypt for its unique features, including cross-platform code disks ( a feature that ’ second however being utilized by Amazon Web Services nowadays ), and the plausible deniability hidden operate system feature of speech for Windows users, which allows a user who ’ sulfur under duress to use an alternative boot password to log into a different operate organization that doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate check incriminating data .
Another subset of those still concern in TrueCrypt, and frankincense its ongoing security audited account, are programmers who are continuing to develop TrueCrypt freelancer of the original creators—an contract which is known in the software development field as forking a project .
There has been some debate about how acceptable it is to create a public branch of the TrueCrypt codebase under its unique beginning code license, which threatens legal prosecution if the copyright holder feels that some contribution of the license was not followed precisely, and expressly forbids relicensing the software under any other license. One fork, VeraCrypt, brazenly defies this prohibition and claims that VeraCrypt is offered under both the TrueCrypt License and the Microsoft Public License. Another fork, CipherShed, is presently offered under the TrueCrypt License but intends to finally undergo a complete code rewrite so that it can legally cut ties with that license and formally be relicensed as in truth release ( as in freedom ) open-source software. *
naturally, both for those who use continue using TrueCrypt 7.1a ( the final full-featured version ) and for those who want to develop or use a fork of TrueCrypt, it ’ mho significant to know with confidence that the software is plug and condom to use .

Is TrueCrypt secure and safe to use?

Open Crypto Audit
In former 2013, prior to TrueCrypt ’ mho demise, a canadian scholar was able to successfully compile the Windows version of TrueCrypt 7.1a ’ south beginning code and output signal the identical result binary that was available to download from TrueCrypt ’ s locate, and he shared the results of how he did sol. This means that if the beginning code is thoroughly audited and found to be safe, then one can reasonably infer that the pre-compiled software that was originally available from TrueCrypt ’ randomness site is credibly condom a well ( or at least the Windows version of it ) .
Around the like time in 2013, cryptographer and Johns Hopkins University research professor Matthew Green, and professional security system research worker Kenneth White, kicked off a campaign to formally and publicly audit the TrueCrypt software, and thus the Open Crypto Audit Project ( OCAP ) was formed. The telescope of this project was narrowed to include two phases : the beginning, to assess the bootloader and Windows kernel driver, and the moment, “ to perform a scoped engagement on portions of TrueCrypt ’ s cryptanalytic implementations and use. ”
TrueCrypt audit phase 1
The first phase of the project was completed in February 2014 ( with the consecrate of TrueCrypt ’ south development team, and while TrueCrypt 7.1a was calm available from the official TrueCrypt site ) and was published ( PDF ) soon thereafter. The auditors “ found no tell of backdoors or differently intentionally malicious code ” in the bootloader or the Windows kernel driver, and no “ high-severity issues ” were found, although respective average and low-severity and other likely issues were detailed in the report .
TrueCrypt audit phase 2
The second phase of the TrueCrypt audit was ultimately completed in March 2015 and was just published ( PDF ) on Thursday. Green ’ s “ TL ; DR ” summary states that the “ audit found no testify of deliberate backdoors, or any severe plan flaws that will make the software insecure in most instances. ”

however, two “ high-severity issues ” were identified in the second audit ( along with a low-severity issue and one of indeterminate badness ). The more significant of the high-severity issues, Green asserts, is that “ in some highly rare circumstances ” the Windows adaptation of TrueCrypt doesn ’ t by rights handle cases where the Windows Cryptography API ( application programming interface ) fails to initialize correctly, and neglects to warn the drug user about this failure and proceeds anyhow. green feels that “ the likelihood of such a bankruptcy is highly low, ” and that “ even if the Windows Crypto API does fail on your system, [ TrueCrypt ] still collects information from sources such as system pointers and shiner movements ” which he feels “ are probably dear adequate to protect you. ” Both Green and the auditors recommended that those developing forks of TrueCrypt rewrite the code to implement better checks for failures of this kind .
The second high-severity consequence discovered in the second audited account relates to TrueCrypt ’ s AES execution being susceptible to cache-timing attacks, which Green feels “ is credibly not a business unless you ’ rhenium perform encoding and decoding on a shared car [ meaning a calculator you contribution with person else ], or in an environment where the attacker can run code on your system ( e.g., in a sandbox, or potentially in the browser ). ” The auditors offer strategies that could be used in TrueCrypt forks to partially mitigate this weakness .
Both Green ’ s TL ; DR drumhead and the second audit ’ mho Findings Summary seem incontrovertible overall with regards to the security of the audit portions of TrueCrypt. The auditors country that none of the four total issues they identified in the second audited account “ led to a complete beltway of confidentiality in coarse usage scenarios, ” and besides department of state that “ the criterion work flow of creating a volume and making function of it was reviewed, and no significant flaws were found that would impact it. ”

What about Mac OS X and Linux versions?

With these two audits completed, the condition at the top of the official audited account site has been changed to a resonant “ Yes ! ” —but much more exploit could be done to throughly audit TrueCrypt. The Mac and Linux versions have not been a focus to date, and there are many other likely areas of concentrate specified in the project Goals and Scope sections of the audited account reports. An extremely thorough audit of all components and uses of TrueCrypt would be dainty, but it would besides be highly expensive. The home page of the Open Crypto Audit Project states, “ pending an executive compendious, TrueCrypt is Audited, ” which seems to imply that the two audits completed therefore far are the entirely ones that the OCAP plans to spearhead for the time being .
then, should you use TrueCrypt or one of its offshoots ? We ’ ll leave that as an use for you, the subscriber, to decide after examining the available evidence, but if you need to share encrypted magnetic disk images or external drives with person who uses Windows or Linux, then it ’ s credibly a decent solution for your use font .

Apple’s built-in full-disk encryption alternatives

OS X Yosemite Security Privacy
however, if your goal is to encrypt your Mac ’ sulfur boot drive, and assuming you trust Apple ( and you credibly do if you ’ re using a Mac ), then you ’ ll probably want to use the Apple-supported whole-disk encoding solution that ’ second built right into your operate system : FileVault 2 .
How to use FileVault 2
FileVault 2 ( which is unlike from the original FileVault built into Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard that merely encrypts a drug user ’ s home folder while leaving the remainder the magnetic disk unencrypted, including memory barter files ) is in truth easy to enable if you ’ rhenium not already using it ( and you might be, specially if you ’ ve upgraded to Yosemite ). Just snap on the Apple menu, blue-ribbon System Preferences…, pawl on Security & Privacy, and then click on FileVault .
If you haven ’ thymine already enabled the feature, then you ’ ll see a button labeled Turn On FileVault ( note that you may need to first click on the lock icon and enter your administrator password, if prompted, before you can click on the Turn On FileVault push button ). After clicking on that button, OS X will walk you through the march of encrypting your Mac ’ s hard drive. For more information about using FileVault 2, you can review the Apple support article entitled “ OS adam : About FileVault 2. ”
How to use Disk Utility
If you just want to create an code, portable disk image that you only plan to use on Macs, you can do that with Apple ’ south Disk Utility application, which is besides separate of OS X. You can find it by opening Macintosh HD, then the Applications booklet, then the Utilities booklet ( or just click on the Spotlight magnifying looking glass in the upper-right corner of your filmdom and start typing Disk Utility ). We ’ ve previously explained how to make an code harrow image from an existing folder, but you may not know that you can besides create a new harrow image of just about any size by clicking on the File menu, selecting New and then Blank Disk Image…, and then selecting the disk size, encoding format, and other options, as seen in this screenshot :
blank disk image secure
But hey, if you have a desire to use TrueCrypt rather of some alternate solution, at least now you know that TrueCrypt has been audited and is consequently safe to use .

* Technically, TrueCrypt is more accurately referred to as “ source-available ” quite than “ open-source ” software ; the TrueCrypt license is slightly restrictive and is not recognized by the Free Software Foundation or the loose Source Initiative .

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About Joshua Long

Joshua Long (@theJoshMeister), Intego’s Chief Security Analyst, is a renowned security researcher, writer, and public speaker. Josh has a master’s degree in IT concentrating in Internet Security and has taken doctorate-level coursework in Information Security. Apple has publicly acknowledged Josh for discovering an Apple ID authentication vulnerability. Josh has conducted cybersecurity research for more than 20 years, which has often been featured by major news outlets worldwide. Look for more of Josh’s articles at and follow him on Twitter.
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