In computing, Rubberhose (also known by its development codename Marutukku)[1] is a deniable encryption program which encrypts data on a storage device and hides the encrypted data. The existence of the encrypted data can only be verified using the appropriate cryptographic key. It was created by Julian Assange as a tool for human rights workers who needed to protect sensitive data in the field and was initially released in 1997.[1]

Name and history

The name Rubberhose is a joking reference to the cypherpunks term rubber-hose cryptanalysis, in which encryption keys are obtained by means of violence.

It was written in 1997–2000 by Julian Assange, Suelette Dreyfus, and Ralf Weinmann.[2][3]


The following paragraphs are extracts from the project's documentation:

Rubberhose works by initially writing random characters to an entire hard drive or other dynamic storage device. This random noise is indistinguishable from the encrypted data to be stored on that disk. If you have a 1 GB drive and want to have two Rubberhose encrypted portions of 400 MB and 200 MB, it assumes that each aspect (as the encrypted partitions are called) will be 1 GB and fill the entire drive. It will keep doing this until the drive is really filled to capacity with encrypted material. It breaks up the pieces of each aspect into small pieces and scatters them across the entire 1 GB drive in a random manner, with each aspect looking as if it is actually 1 GB in size upon decryption.

Each aspect has its own passphrase that must be separately decrypted, and if a hard drive is seized neither mathematical analysis nor physical disk testing can reveal how many aspects actually exist. Internal maps are used to locate where the data is stored amongst the random characters, with each aspect having its own map which can only be decrypted via its specific passphrase. Therefore, a Rubberhose disk can only be safely written to after all the passphrases have been entered. Everything works on a "need to know" basis, i.e. each aspect knows nothing about the others other than when to avoid writing over the top of another.


Rubberhose is not actively maintained, although it is available for Linux kernel 2.2, NetBSD and FreeBSD. The latest version available, still in alpha stage, is v0.8.3.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b Suelette Dreyfus (2012-10-29). "The Idiot Savants' Guide to Rubberhose". Archived from the original on 2012-10-29.
  2. ^ Ralf Weinmann biography at Archived September 29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b "Rubberhose cryptographically deniable transparent disk encryption system". Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2022.