Newly formed PGP Corp. took a big step Monday toward endearing itself to cryptography enthusiasts and privacy advocates by releasing the source code for its flagship line of encryption products.
The code for the entire PGP 8.0 line—which was also introduced Monday—is available on the companys Web site for free download. This move is a resurrection of the policy of openness and freedom that led to the creation of the original Pretty Good Privacy software more than 10 years ago and was a hallmark of the now-defunct PGP Inc.
Users can download and review the code for free but cannot reuse or modify it.
The publication of cryptographic algorithms and source code for encryption products has long been a common way for cryptographers and developers to test the strength and security of their products. But as more and more of the original freeware and shareware encryption products moved into the corporate realm, the practice has gradually fallen out of favor.
When PGP Corp. announced its formation earlier this year, company officials made a point of saying that they would release the PGP source code. The company purchased the PGP product line from Network Associates Inc., which had bought the original PGP Inc. business from Phil Zimmermann, the products creator.
NAIs refusal to release the PGP source code was one of the reasons that Zimmermann eventually left NAI.
"PGP is the only security software company sufficiently committed to product integrity and security to publish its intellectual property in the form of source code for peer review," said Phil Dunkelberger, president and CEO of PGP, based in Palo Alto, Calif. "We believe that releasing the source code for security-related software should be a standard industry practice and a requirement of any serious security vendor."
The PGP 8.0 line includes both Windows and Macintosh versions of the PGP Desktop, PGP Enterprise and PGP Personal as well as a new version of PGP Freeware. The Macintosh products include support for OS X, and the Windows line now supports XP and XP Office.