Crypto fans take heart, PGP is here to stay.
A group of venture capitalists and veteran high-tech executives on Monday announced the formation of a new company called PGP Corp. that has purchased Network Associates Inc.s remaining PGP assets and released PGP 8.0, a new version of the beloved encryption application.
And, in a move sure to endear the company to cryptography enthusiasts, the company plans to publish the source code for PGP, something that Network Associates officials refused to do.
In addition to buying Network Associates PGP applications, the new company has also acquired much of the talent associated with the PGP line.
The new company, based in Palo Alto, Calif., will be led by CEO Philip Dunkelberger and CTO Jon Callas, both of whom have extensive backgrounds in the security market in general and with PGP specifically. Financial backing comes courtesy of two venture capital firms, Doll Capital Management and Venrock Associates. PGPs immediate focus will be on ensuring a smooth transition for existing customers, but the company will then turn its attention to expanding its product line.
“The philosophy for the future is very much developing new, innovative products in this space,” Dunkelberger said. “Were going to focus on ease-of-use, deployability and manageability. Were going to develop the next generation secure messaging architecture.”
Dunkelberger was CEO of the original PGP Inc. in the late 1990s and was vice president of sales at Symantec Corp. before that. Callas is a well-respected cryptographer who served as chief scientist at PGP Inc. and later as CTO of the network security division at Network Associates. He was also one of 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 Macintosh, PGP Keyserver for Windows and Solaris, PGP Mobile for PalmOS and WinCE/PocketPC and the PGP SDK encryption software development kit
The new version of PGP, which will ship in November, includes updated releases of PGP Mail and PGP Disk for both Windows and Macintosh. The Windows version will include support for XP, a server-side plug-in for Lotus Notes and support for Novell Inc.s GroupWise 5.5 and 6.0 products. The Mac version will have full support for OS X, support for PGP disks created on Windows machines and Mac OS 9 machines, AES (advanced encryption algorithm) support and direct integration with Apple Computer Inc.s mail application.
On the business side of things, the new company will immediately take control of all customer licenses from NAI.
The formation of PGP Corp. marks the beginning of what could be called the fourth era of PGP history.
Amatuer cryptographer Phil Zimmermann wrote PGP and released it on the Internet as freeware in 1991. It was the first application of its kind and drew considerable interest from privacy enthusiasts around the world, which in turn brought unwanted attention from the U.S. government. U.S. officials were concerned about terrorists and other enemies of the state getting hold of PGP and using its strong encryption to hide secrets from the eyes of the National Security Agency and other intelligence bodies. The U.S. Customs Service opened a criminal investigation of Zimmermann, believing that he had broken laws regarding the export of strong encryption products, which the government had classified as munitions. Customs eventually dropped its case in 1996, at which time Zimmermann started PGP Inc. to sell a commercial version of his brainchild. Network Associates bought the company in 1997, eventually expanding the product line to include wireless applications and firewalls. As part of its restructuring, NAI announced earlier this year that it was eliminating its PGP Security division and would sell some of the assets.
In adittion to Dunkelberger and Callas, PGP Corp. also hired Will Price as vice president of engineering and Spencer Snedecor as vice president of North American sales. Both Price and Snedecor are veterans of NAIs PGP division.
The companys technical advisory board is a virtual whos who of computer security, including Zimmermann, Bruce Schneier, CTO of Counterpane and a renowned cryptographer, and Crispin Cowan, chief scientist at WireX Communications Inc., an expert on operating system security.
“Were very, very fortunate to have a balanced group and have so many people interested in what were doing,” Dunkelberger said of the advisory board.
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