PGP Encryption Gets New Lease on Life

New company releases PGP 8.0, promises a next-generation messaging architecture.

Crypto fans, take heart. PGP is here to stay.

A group of venture capitalists and high-tech executives last week announced the formation of a company, PGP Corp., which has purchased Network Associates Inc.s remaining Pretty Good Privacy assets and released PGP 8.0, a new version of the popular encryption application.

In a move sure to endear the company to cryptography enthusiasts, it plans to publish PGP source code, which NAI officials refused to do. In addition to buying NAIs PGP applications, the company has acquired much of the talent associated with the PGP line.

The company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., will be led by CEO Philip Dunkelberger and Chief Technology Officer Jon Callas, both of whom have extensive backgrounds in security, especially PGP. Financial backing comes via venture capital companies Doll Capital Management and Venrock Associates.

PGPs immediate focus will be on ensuring a smooth transition for customers, but the company will then turn to expanding its product line.

"The philosophy for the future is developing new, innovative products," Dunkelberger said. "Were going to develop next-generation, secure messaging architecture." Dunkelberger was CEO of the first PGP company, PGP Inc., in the late 1990s and was vice president of sales at Symantec Corp. before that. Callas is a respected cryptographer who served as chief scientist at PGP Inc. and later as CTO of NAIs network security division. He was among the key architects behind Counterpane Internet Security Inc.s managed security monitoring system.

PGP Corp. bought NAIs desktop and wireless encryption lines, which include PGP Mail, PGP File, PGP Disk and PGP Admin software products for Windows; PGP Corporate Desktop for the Macintosh; PGP Keyserver for Windows and Solaris; PGP Mobile for Palm OS, Windows CE and Windows Pocket PC; and the PGP SDK encryption software development kit.

The new version of PGP, due in November, includes updated releases of PGP Mail and PGP Disk for Windows and Mac OS. The Windows version will include support for Windows XP, a server-side plug-in for IBMs Lotus divisions Notes, and support for Novell Inc.s GroupWise 5.5 and 6.0 products. The Mac version will have full support for Mac OS X, support for PGP disks created on Windows machines and Mac OS 9 machines, advanced encryption algorithm support, and direct integration with Apple Computer Inc.s mail application.

On the business side, the company will immediately take control of all customer licenses from NAI.

Amateur cryptographer Phil Zimmermann wrote PGP and released it on the Net as freeware in 1991. It was the first tool of its kind and drew considerable interest from privacy enthusiasts, bringing attention from the U.S. government, which was concerned about enemies of the state using PGPs strong encryption to hide secrets.