TrueCrypt Is Dead -- Long Live TrueCrypt!
A shockwave rolled through the Internet’s cryptographic community on May 28. TrueCrypt, a highly respected, open-source, on-the-fly encryption program, was abruptly abandoned by its developers. It’s not unusual for programmers to give up on their free software. What shocked everyone is the going-away present that TrueCrypt’s parents gave to the world.
Is TrueCrypt Insecure?
“WARNING: Using TrueCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues,” says the first line on the TrueCrypt.org site now. Development was ended on May 20, shortly after Microsoft’s end of all support for Windows XP. The authors of TrueCrypt are urging users to migrate their data from TrueCrypt to Microsoft’s Bitlocker or another on-the-fly encryption platform.
Furthermore, the last version of TrueCrypt available to download (v7.2) will only read files and disks encrypted with TrueCrypt. You cannot use it to create or modify encrypted versions of files. It’s intended only to be a tool for migrating files from TrueCrypt to a new encrypted storage site, say the authors.
Not so fast, say the folks at Gibson Research Corp. TrueCrypt v7.1a is still safe to use, and it is fully functional! So what are TrueCrypt’s authors doing with these discouraging, scary words?
Apparently, TrueCrypt’s authors are trying to “take back” their contribution to the Internet community by crippling its final release and spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt about its reliability. They want to kill their own child out of spite. After ten years of writing, improving, and supporting some truly outstanding code, they are sick and tired of being taken for granted. Translation: not enough donations to justify the cost.
Gibson counters that a gift, once given, no longer belongs to the giver. TrueCrypt belongs to the Internet now under the terms of the open-source license it bears, he believes. But there are some legalities in the TrueCrypt license that Gibson is glossing over. But it's likely thtat other open-source code warriors will step up to keep TrueCrypt updated and supported. The copyright on the name “TrueCrypt” belongs to the program’s authors, so a new name will be found for this venerable program. But it’s not going away.
Legalities of property rights aside, this extraordinary event highlights a long-simmering injustice: the people who produce all of the free software are not getting the financial support they deserve from the millions upon millions of – there is no other word – freeloaders, and they’re increasingly complaining about it.
Support Your Local Freeware Developer
Matt Kruse, a corporate programmer by day and social media maven by night, has the gratitude of over a million users of his awesome Social Fixer browser add-on. It fixes a myriad of things that are wrong, idiotic, and irritating about Facebook. So why does he have to beg for donations in a two-inch sidebar that runs the full height of my screen?
I’ve given my highest kudos to Privazer, the privacy protecting and system optimizing program. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken advantage of Privazer, but donations amount to less than $30,000 in two years. I bet that, collectively, all of those people have tipped baristas more for much less benefit.
Comedian Danny Thomas supposedly told his daughter Marlo, “If it’s worth doing, someone will pay you to do it. Otherwise, you should find something more useful to do with your time.”
Thomas assumes that people are fair and pay for the benefits they get; so I guess he wasn’t such a wise man, after all. Most people take whatever freebies they can get away with taking, and do not consider the long-term consequences of doing so.
Filthy Lucre, Clean Conscience, or Both?
TrueCrypt’s developers have issued a loud and clear wake-up call. If you're using and depending upon free software, a small donation to support the developers is incumbent upon you. Unless you're truly a pauper, you can afford to drop $5 or $10 in a tip jar to encourage the developers of your cherished software to continue the work of providing, supporting and enhancing it. Failing that, it may disappear one fine day.
It does have to be said, though, that there are plenty of software developers who provide free software, and find sustainable and profitable ways to do it. Red Hat Software's business is based on providing services related to free software (Linux) and they had revenues of $1.5 billion last year. Other such as AVG, Avast, Avira, MalwareBytes, Piriform (CCleaner and Speccy) provide popular freebies, but also offer a premium version or subscriptions to generate revenue.
Matt Kruse, the developers who created TrueCrypt, and others providing free software may have philosophical (or other) objections to "selling" a product or service. But it's not up to us to judge their motives. Here's a question I'll leave you with: Is it theft if you use software that's offered on a "free, but please pay or donate if you like it" basis, and you never do so?
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 3 Jun 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- TrueCrypt Is Dead -- Long Live TrueCrypt! (Posted: 3 Jun 2014)
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