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Security Encryption

Security Researchers Want To Fully Audit Truecrypt 233

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the brought-to-you-by-the-makers-of-stuxnet dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "TrueCrypt has been part of security-minded users' toolkits for nearly a decade — but there's one problem: no one has ever conducted a full security audit on it. Now Cyrus Farivar reports in Ars Technica that a fundraiser reached more than $16,000 in a public call to perform a full security audit on TrueCrypt. 'Lots of people use it to store very sensitive information,' writes Matthew Green, a well-known cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University. 'That includes corporate secrets and private personal information. Bruce Schneier is even using it to store information on his personal air-gapped super-laptop, after he reviews leaked NSA documents. We should be sweating bullets about the security of a piece of software like this.' According to Green, Truecrypt 'does some damned funny things that should make any (correctly) paranoid person think twice.' The Ubuntu Privacy Group says the behavior of the Windows version [of Truecrypt 7.0] is problematic. 'As it can't be ruled out that the published Windows executable of Truecrypt 7.0a is compiled from a different source code than the code published in "TrueCrypt_7.0a_Source.zip" we however can't preclude that the binary Windows package uses the header bytes after the key for a back door.' Green is one of people leading the charge to setup the audit, and he helped create the website istruecryptauditedyet.com. 'We're now in a place where we have nearly, but not quite enough to get a serious audit done.'"
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Security Researchers Want To Fully Audit Truecrypt

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  • A thought (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @09:59AM (#45142617)

    TrueCrypt has a custom license and it is unclear how it mixes with other licenses. This makes code-sharing between TrueCrypt and other projects problematical.

    According to TFA nobody knows who wrote TrueCrypt.

    The answer to the problem is simple: relicense TrueCrypt. If there are no known authors, there's nobody to complain.

  • Re: Typo? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by davidbrit2 (775091) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @10:03AM (#45142647) Homepage
    Certainly not that keyboard with the keylogger embedded in it!
  • by seandiggity (992657) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @10:18AM (#45142763) Homepage
    From http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2006/06/msg00295.html [debian.org]:

    ...if you distribute modified versions of TrueCrypt, you cannot charge for copies. That is non-free...
    ...nothing in the license constitutes a promise not to sue for copyright infringement. Our counsel advises that a plain reading of this indicates that if Fedora complies with all the requirements of the TrueCrypt license, we would nonetheless have no assurance that TrueCrypt will not sue me for my acts of copying, distribution, creation of derivative works, and so forth...
    TrueCrypt seems to be reserving the right to sue any licensee for copyright infringement, no matter whether they comply with the conditions of the license or not. Based on this, our counsel advised that above and beyond being non-free, software under this license is not safe to use...
    Our counsel advised us that this license has the appearance of being full of clever traps, which make the license appear to be a sham (and non-free).

    Given all of this, plus the problems with TrueCrypt authorship etc. I think the best course of action is replacing with a free implementation, maybe starting with something like this [github.com]?

  • Re:Typo? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shipofgold (911683) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @10:47AM (#45143083)

    While it could have been worded better, I did understand the author's intent of the comment.....

    A lot of people apparently use Truecrypt 6.0a and earlier. I don't believe sourcecode for those earlier versions has ever been published. That means people could be using a binary that is completely different than the Truecrypt 7...complete with backdoors or other vulnerabilities. No matter how much you analyze Truecrypt 7 software, all Truecrypt 6.0a and earlier versions should be considered vulnerable.

  • Re:Waitaminit... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @10:57AM (#45143205) Journal
    No, the argument is that it can happen if someone decides that it's worth doing. Just making the code open doesn't mean that anyone will read it. It does, however, mean that:
    • You can build it yourself, so you know that the code that is audited is the code that is built (modulo toolchain trojans)
    • You can audit the code, or pay someone else to do it, without permission from the original authors beyond their original license
    • You can fix any security holes that such an audit turns up (or pay someone else to do it, again without requiring permission from the original authors beyond their original license
  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:23AM (#45143505)

    Why do you give a flying **** what the NSA are doing with your data? I don't. I'm more concerned about Russia, China and assorted hackers and scammers the world over who might actually want to do me harm,

    Because as a U.S. resident, I don't worry about Russia, China, etc. kicking my door down and throwing me in jail or putting me on a no-fly list for some joke I made in a private email to a friend.

  • by emho24 (2531820) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:35AM (#45143619)
    Why do you give a flying **** what the NSA are doing with your data?

    Because government entities are being used to punish those of differing political beliefs than those in power. It will only get worse, and it matters not what "side" the current rulers are. The current administrations favorite punishment tool seems to be the IRS. Can't wait to find out how bad it gets with the next administration.
  • Re:Waitaminit... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:45AM (#45143717)

    The real reason why open source practically always beats closed source in security applications is that the authors have to presume that someone else will take a look at the code later and therefore want to avoid too messy and unclean coding. With closed source the temptation is simply too high to introduce dirty hacks and shortcuts, such as crappy PRNGs where cryptographically secure ones would be required, using no salt or using default initialization vectors - things that would be too embarrasing if anybody could discover them easily.

    Closed source developers can avoid that by independent security auditing, frequent reviews and strict coding guidelines, but that costs a lot of money and is only done when there is an external incentive like having to fulfill some FIPS regulation. In many if not all cases you can and should give a shit about the claims of even the most reputable closed source vendors. They are very likely lying about one thing or another and their managers likely don't even know exactly what they are really selling and how it works (viz., doesn't work).

  • Re:Typo? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blueg3 (192743) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @11:58AM (#45143871)

    It's not well-written.

    Here's what it's saying:
    * We can audit the TrueCrypt source code.
    * TrueCrypt for Windows is distributed as a binary.
    * We can't verify that the TrueCrypt for Windows binary is actually built from the TrueCrypt source code.
    * Thus, we can't (effectively) audit the TrueCrypt for Windows binary.

    They give an example of one backdoor of concern in the sentence, but really the logic is true for any arbitrary security concern.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @02:51PM (#45145949) Homepage

    The problem is that the HDD is designed, given the head, recording signal, and surface material, to only support the original capacity under the signal theory that covers the current method of recording. It does NOT matter that in theory, the disk material MAY be able to save far more data with a different head, and signal method. Only the current method matters. But the owners of Slashdot will allow periodic FUD articles to appear that DISCOURAGE people from using proper file erase tools, on the basis that its actually a waste of time, because the NSA can still get your data no matter how you erase it.

    You sure YOU don't work for the NSA? The recording capability is what it is, but the reading capability is whatever you can put in a $100 consumer drive operating at 100MB/s with 1 error in 10^14 bits accuracy. What you can do with a >$1 million electron microscope at 1/1000th the speed at 1/1000th the accuracy is another matter. You might not want a 0.1 MB/s drive that corrupts a bit every megabyte but for forensics that's plenty. Never mind that all modern drives just pretend to offer you a linear disc, in reality it remaps a whole sector if a single bit fails. How much compromising info can you write in 4023 out of 4024 bits of a 4K sector? It's not useless but everything you hope to achieve with erasing is better achieved with encryption. Nor are they mutually exclusive, if you want to wipe your encrypted drive for that extra unrecoverable feeling go ahead.

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