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TrueCrypt hooked to life support in Switzerland: 'It must not die' say pair

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Two programmers hope to resurrect development of disk-encryption tool TrueCrypt after its original developers quit the project.

The official TrueCrypt.org website abruptly shut up shop last week ostensibly because its secretive maintainers felt they could no longer keep the software secure.

They blamed the Microsoft's discontinuation of official support for Windows XP, withdrew previous versions of the utility, and released a new version of TrueCrypt, v7.2, which can only decrypt data.

Now Thomas Bruderer and Joseph Doekbrijder have stepped forward with plans to revive the project through the truecrypt.ch site, which is offering downloads of TrueCrypt 7.1a – which can encrypt and decrypt data, and was the latest version prior to 7.2.

Meanwhile, a separate effort to audit the TrueCrypt source code is ongoing. Last month professional auditors, bankrolled by donations from users, found “no evidence of backdoors or intentional flaws” after examining the blueprints, and announced that the second phase of the investigation will go ahead as planned: they will now review its random number generators and cipher suites.

"We are continuing forward with formal cryptanalysis of TrueCrypt 7.1 as committed, and hope to deliver a final audit report in a few months," the Open Crypto Audit Project stated. "We are considering several scenarios, including potentially supporting a fork under appropriate free license, with a fully reproducible build," it added.

Others continue to view TrueCrypt's custom licence as a potential obstacle in the way of reviving development of the software. The most troublesome part of the licence reads:

The name of Your Product (or of Your modified version of This Product) must not contain the name TrueCrypt (for example, the following names are not allowed: TrueCrypt, TrueCrypt+, TrueCrypt Professional, iTrueCrypt, etc.) nor any other names confusingly similar to the name TrueCrypt (e.g., True-Crypt, True Crypt, TruKrypt, etc.)

Meanwhile, as the domain name suggests, the TrueCrypt.ch project is hosted in Switzerland in order to, hopefully, avoid any legal problems:

If there have been legal problems with the US, the independent hosting in Switzerland will guarantee no interruption due to legal threats.

The pair said their primary aim was to "make the product available again", closely followed by its second priority of "finding interested and capable persons volunteering to help identify and solve legal issues and identify security threats".

The real reasons why TrueCrypt.org pulled the plug remain unclear. In the absence of any convincing explanation, conspiracy theorists have suggested TrueCrypt was shut down, Lavabit-style, in response to pressure from the feds or spy chiefs, or possibly due to an internal power struggle. Perhaps we'll never know. ®

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