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Re: Security Flaw in Popular Disk Encryption Technologies

"Igor Mozolevsky" <igor_(_at_)_hybrid-lab_(_dot_)_co_(_dot_)_uk> wrote:
> On 23/02/2008, Brooks Davis <brooks_(_at_)_freebsd_(_dot_)_org> wrote:
> >
> > You should actually read the paper. :) They successfully defeat both
> >  of these type of protections by using canned air to chill the ram and
> >  transplanting it into another machine.
> Easy to get around this attack - store the key on a usb
> stick/cd/whatever and every time the OS needs to access the encrypted
> date the key should be read, data decrypted, then key wiped from the
> memory; or have the daemon erase the key from memory every T minutes
> and re-acquire the key at next access attempt...

This is only effective if the sensitive data is infrequently accessed.
If the unit is asleep, then software isn't running and it's not possible
to kick of a timer to clear the memory, so it doesn't even start to
solve that problem.

> Or you could carry something that emits a huge EMI pulse to destroy
> the data on the disk...

Or laptop vendors could make "secure" laptops that always lose memory
on shutdown.

There are a number of vendors out there who make so-called "secure"
laptops (hell, even the new Lenovos brag of security with their fingerprint
readers).  I wonder if they tested different hardware ... i.e. if some
laptops are more vulnerable than others, or even some laptop hardware
is _not_ vulnerable at all?

I'm also disappointed that they took the tack of calling this a "software"
problem and investigating so many different softwares.  They should have
identified it as a limitation of the hardware and tested different

Bill Moran
Collaborative Fusion Inc.

Phone: 412-422-3463x4023
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