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Product going to stay the same?

Created: 06 Feb 2011 • Updated: 06 Feb 2011 | 8 comments

I am a long-time private home-user PGP customer. I have been buying PGP Desktop Professional and Whole Disk Encryption for Macintosh - every version, since the company started. I was even a PGP fan back when it was not commercial.

Now, with Symantec's business profile and also record of shutting down Norton Utilities on the Mac because of unpredictable updates from Apple causing problems (like recent 10.6.6+ system updates have) I am very worried that you will discontinue the Macintosh product. I use Boot Camp with Windows 7 64-bit and Mac OS X 1.6.6, and I love your product. I want you to confirm that you will continue to sell the product at a comparable or reasonable price to private customers, without geographic restrictions (I want to be able to buy it in Western Europe, directly online from Symantec), and continue maintaining it.

PGP is the only whole disk encryption option on Macintosh, and it works great. It would be very unfortunate if I couldn't buy it anymore.

Also: will you support AES-NI on Macintosh? If yes, when? And how does your product handle SSDs? Will you continue the important policy of enabling source-code review?

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mallardduck's picture

I wouldn't expect an answer.  PGP was pretty poor about customer communication, and indications are that Symantec controls information even more.  Most of those questions have been asked, and unanswered, many times since the acquisition.

 

WDE kills SSD performance - brings it back down to hard disk levels.

Ruby32's picture

Don't be so pessimistic. I am sure someone at Symantec care about what their users think. Let's see how they handle this first.

mallardduck's picture

You must be new to PGP and the forums.  Trying to get basic information out of this organization has been, well, like decrypting a drive without the passphrase.  We've battled that for years - even after the CEO promised more open communication - all we got was silence during the months-long 10.6 delay.  The comments from PGP employees that 'Symantec is tightening down on information' do not bode well for the future.  Since we couldn't even get an ETA on the fix for the 10.6.5/6 debacle, I highly doubt that they'll make any committments for the future.

Keep in mind that Mac PGP is a nit, and retail Mac PGP is a nit on a nit - even more so now that Symantec owns it.

paulhen's picture

I can not answer most of what you have asked (because I don't have the answers). However, native instruction (NI) support for AES is in the works. It is available for Windows in 10.1. I have heard conflicting answers as to whether it is also present on the Macintosh platform in 10.1. Best case: it is present. Worst case (that I've heard) is next version. I do understand that the NI support makes significant improvements to the speeds seen on solid state drives.

 Governments keep a lot of secrets from their people . . . Why aren't the people in return allowed to keep secrets from the government? --Philip Zimmerman, Der Spiegel

bgillson's picture

I just spent 20 minutes writing a full response to your questions, only to have this forum software randomly eat it. I'm very frustrated. Unfortunately, this means I'll need to be brief in my new reply. Grrrrr....

I'll answer what I can, but please understand that we (as a business, or I as an individual for that matter) cannot commit to any future features. If you (or anyone reading this) is considering buying a product, please purchase based on what's available today - not what might happen in the future. Plans can (and do) change, including any that I might state or imply in the responses below.

1. Mac support. We have no plans to reduce or eliminate Mac support. Mac support is an important way to differentiate PGP WDE from Microsoft BitLocker. As more companies have a mixed Windows+Mac environment, this becomes even more important.

2. Web sales. We plan to continue web sales to individuals. It's an important part of the business. Note that we're transitioning from the PGP Store to the Symantec store, so it will be a while before PGP products reappear on http://store.symantec.com. Until then, "web" sales will be handled over the phone. The US store will appear first, then EMEA. Please be patient as we make this transition.

3. AES-NI. I can't commit to future features, but will say: (1) PGP has stated that we wish to improve feature parity between Windows and Mac versions over time; (2) AES-NI is NOT currently in the Mac WDE product; and (3) we made a number of performance improvements to the Mac version in 10.1 that moved the bottlenecks closer to the crypto layer from the file system layer.

4. When AES-NI? I can't commit to future dates or announcements, but Symantec usually announces new products at Vision conferences. PGP Desktop 10.1 was announced at Vision EMEA in October and was released in December. The next major Vision conference is in the US in May.

5. SSDs. Longer discussion. We introduced AES-128 support, multi-processor support, and other performance enhancements (including AES-NI on Windows) to help SSD performance. We're working on other optimizations, but there are some fundamental challenges - for example, by default WDE encrypts an entire disk, even unused sectors. This improves security, since an attacker can't tell an empty drive from a full drive. However, this writes to every sector of an SSD and makes every future write a re-write - which are significantly slower on SSDs. To combat this, we introduced a command line option: --fast. If you encrypt using this option, it doesn't encrypt blank sectors. Due to security considerations, this is an advanced option only available on the command line.

6. Source code review. Yes, we will continue the policy of enabling source-code review. In fact, the PGP Desktop source code for peer review can be found here on Symantec Connect at https://www-secure.symantec.com/connect/downloads/....

I hope that answered your questions.

Bryan

mallardduck's picture

Hi Bryan,

Thanks for the information.  Do you have anything regarding a committment to support 10.7 within days, weeks, months, or years of release?  Given that it's to be released in June, right after your conference, will you at least have a statement of support in May?

jc1350's picture

There are at lest 2 other commercial WDE products for Mac.  I used one for about 1 1/2 months before I came back to PGP.  The one I tried had a horrible user interface and I wasted no time in coming back to PGP.

mallardduck's picture

And some rumors that Apple will build it directly into 10.7.