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03 November 2008, 11:38

TrueCrypt 6.1 encryption software released

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TrueCrypt 6.1, the open source, cross platform disk encryption tool, now supports the encryption of non-system partitions under Windows Vista and Server 2008, without losing the existing data on that partition. However users need to choose "Create Volume/Encrypt a non-system partition/Standard volume/Select Device/Encrypt partition in place" to make use of the feature. The same functionality is not available under Windows XP, 2000 and Server 2003, as these operating systems don't have an option for shrinking file systems, which TrueCrypt uses to allow it to make space for its own volume and backup headers.

Users can now set their own boot loader text, or turn it off completely, for a silent start up. Selecting the boot loader text off option makes it more difficult for inquisitive people to guess the type of boot loader used. Another new feature is the ability for an entered password to be cached in the driver's memory and used to mount encrypted data partitions automatically, after the system has booted.

TrueCrypt uses PKCS #11 to allow security cards and tokens to work
TrueCrypt uses PKCS #11 to allow security cards and tokens to work

For the first time, the users of TrueCrypt for Linux or Mac can reportedly now mount system partitions created under Windows. The developers have also added the support for smart cards and security tokens via the PKCS #11 cryptography standard, allowing an external key file to be used instead of a password for enabling a partition.

The developers have also worked on the creation of hidden partitions, responding to the theoretical possibility that traces of the TrueCrypt wizard could appear, among other places, in log files. This could make it more difficult for users to hide the existence of a hidden volume on an operating system. In mid 2008, cryptography expert Bruce Schneier co-operated with a group of scientists to examine the popular encryption software and establish whether it complies with the requirements for Deniable File Systems (DFS). In the process, they uncovered weaknesses which were mainly caused by the data collection carried out by indexing applications like Google Desktop and Vista's search features. TrueCrypt now securely deletes the entire original partition after a hidden volume has been created, to remove those traces.

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