Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thales UK Acquires nCipher for US$100 Million

On July 11, 2008, Thales UK (a subsidiary of the French defense company Thales) submitted a proposal to acquire all the assets of nCipher for roughly US$100 million. nCipher produces cryptographic hardware, and recently acquired most of the assets of NeoScale Systems for just under US$2 million.

The deal is still pending a vote by the nCipher board, but the offer carries a 2x premium on previous stock prices, so it doesn't seem likely that this vote will fail.

The technical editor for the IEEE P1619.3 was employed by NeoScale and is currently employed by nCipher, soon to be acquired by Thales. nCipher is a strong supporter of the P1619.3 key management effort and I'm hoping that Thales will continue in this strong support.

It's a little unclear to me how to pronounce "Thales". The namesake is an ancient greek philosopher, and as such the name should be pronounced "Thay' - leaz". However, the French owners prefer to pronounce it more like "Tal-less".

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

TrueCrypt Releases version 6.0

On July 4th, 2008, the TrueCrypt Foundation released TrueCrypt version 6.0. TrueCrypt is a very popular open-source disk encryption tool that is currently based on the XTS-AES encryption mode that the IEEE P1619 Task Group developed and standardized in December 2007. As the chair of the IEEE Security in Storage Working Group (SISWG) -- the group that oversaw the development of XTS -- I'm very pleased to see the continued adoption of XTS in the industry.

On a related note, NIST is currently considering XTS as an Approved Mode of Operation for protecting U.S. government confidential data under FIPS 140-2. If NIST accepts XTS, this will be a huge boon to TrueCrypt and similar tools that use XTS. If you use TrueCrypt or other tools that use XTS, please send NIST a comment (before Sept 2008).

For a limited time, you can pick up a free copy of XTS from IEEE. After September, you'll have to buy it from the IEEE store. See the P1619 homepage for instructions and other information.