TrueCrypt is a freeware app for creating a virtual encrypted disk within a file or for encrypting part or all of the storage devices for pre-boot authentication. Unfortunately, TrueCrypt was discontinued in May 2014, leading to widespread pandemonium about what the future holds for the encryption software and even the technology.
If you’re wondering how you can continue to create virtual encrypted disks, look no further. The following provides all the key details you need to know about TrueCrypt, what led to its demise and some of the best TrueCrypt alternatives still available.
What is TrueCrypt known for?
TrueCrypt is mainly known for its ability to create virtual encrypted disks either within a file, in a partition, or with an entire storage device. Many users became fond of TrueCrypt as it offers an excellent way for encrypting your whole disk or information from prying eyes.
One of the most unique features of TrueCrypt is that it included a unique feature called Plausible Deniability. This feature allows you to create a virtual volume within another volume. This means that as a Windows user, you’d be able to create a hidden encrypted operating system within your hard drive that can be plausibly denied.
It’s worth mentioning that although TrueCrypt has discontinued development, the last version released (7.1a) is still currently being used by a lot of people. TrueCrypt 7.1a was released in February 2012 as an improvement on version 7.1 which had earlier been released in September 2011.
TrueCrypt eventually discontinued in 2014, after which it started redirecting users to its sourceforge distribution page.
What happened to TrueCrypt?
With TrueCrypt offering no explanation as to why they suddenly closed shop, leaving most users stranded, there have been a handful of speculations from different online communities.
For instance, some suggested they may have been bought off by Microsoft, which owns BitLocker, while others speculated that there was an NSA backdoor in their source code that was about to be discovered.
Shortly before the software was discontinued, there was a crowdfunded security audit of the TrueCrypt source code that revealed although the software had no intentional backdoors and was well programmed, there were incautious coding flaws present. Whether this was the reason behind TrueCrypt’s demise, we’ll never know.
You should, however, understand that although TrueCrypt has discontinued its service, its source code is still available for use and this has led to the development of many alternative programs. The existing versions 7.1a (still in use) and 7.2 (only for decrypting) are available for Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems.
The lack of support or continuous development has led potential users to seek genuine TrueCrypt replacements out there. The following offers highlight of some of the most reliable TrueCrypt alternatives available in the market.
VeraCrypt is one of the main successors of TrueCrypt and is widely used for creating encrypted disks worldwide. The main advantage of using VeraCrypt is that it is known to have addressed most of the security flaws discovered in the TrueCrypt code audit. VeraCrypt is a fork of the TrueCrypt source code and is still currently being maintained.
One major change with VeraCrypt is that although it was created from an earlier TrueCrypt fork, more recent versions have discontinued the TrueCrypt format and it cannot be used to open previously encrypted files.
CipherShed is another fork of TrueCrypt that was created in June 2014 with resources and infrastructure funded by truecrypt.ch and developed by the ciphershed.org team.
CipherShed also had a crowdfunded security audit and is widely known for being the true successor to TrueCrypt. Just like TrueCrypt, CipherShed is available on Windows, OS X and Linux based systems.
AES Crypt uses the industry standard Advanced encryption standard (AES) backed by a powerful 256-bit encryption algorithm in securing your sensitive files.
AES Crypt is a simple tool that requires a password which is hashed and eventually used as the encryption key. Another benefit of using AES Crypt is that it uses a file type that’s easily accessible by other applications like Amazon S3.
BitLocker is only available in Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise editions and was the only TrueCrypt alternative recommended by the original developers of the software upon its discontinuation.
This tool is pretty straightforward as it uses the Windows user interface and can be found under System and Security in your Control Panel.
DiskCryptor is only available on Windows and can encrypt partitions or whole disks including those with data in them. Although older versions were compatible with TrueCrypt files, this is no longer the case with the current version. The current DiskCryptor version (1.1.846.118) was released in September 2014.
BoxCryptor is a highly rated TrueCrypt replacement and is mostly popular for its ability to transparently encrypt files in cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and any other storage platform.
BoxCryptor essentially creates an encrypted folder that can be placed inside your cloud storage platform. It is a free app available on Windows desktop only.
Designed by Apple, FileVault (now FileVault 2) is the built-in encryption tool exclusively available to macOS devices. FileVault uses an AES 128 encryption and a 256-bit key in encrypting the files in your hard drive. It was first released in 2003 for OS X 10.3 Panther.
LUKS refers to Linux Unified Key Setup and offers encryption for all Linux distributions. LUKS is also referred to as Cryptsetup and is a utility used to conveniently set up disk encryption based on the DMCrypt kernel module.
Although it was originally designed for Linux back in 2004, LUKS has since been made to work on multiple platforms including Android by independent developers.
Symantec Drive Encryption
Owned by the security giant with the same name, Symantec Drive Encryption is provided on a per-license basis and is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux based systems. It allows for management via a centralized dashboard and multiple recovery modes to keep your data safe and accessible.
If you’re currently using TrueCrypt, there’s certainly no need to panic just yet. However, you should plan to change that as soon as you can.
Although it is not an urgent requirement, upgrading your encryption tools to any of these TrueCrypt alternatives is certainly a great idea. You’ll be assured of future developments and updates and would not be subject to any future vulnerabilities that may be discovered with TrueCrypt, since it’s no longer being developed.