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Archive for the ‘Exploits’ Category

Cold Boot Attacks Revisited (again).

September 16, 2009 2 comments

Following my recent post on FireWire Attacks, I thought I’d follow up on that other classic Full Disk Encryption exploit, The “Cold Boot Attack”.

Back in February 2008 a group of clever Princeton students published their infamous paper “Lest We Remember: Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys“. Though the retention of data in RAM chips has been known since their invention, and certainly since at least 1978, The “Princeton Paper” reminded us that when you turn a computer off, it does not mean all the data from memory is instantly gone, and of course, if something important remained, like an encryption key, then your computer security might be vulnerable. Read more…

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Firewire Attacks Revisited

September 14, 2009 4 comments

For those who follow these kinds of things, you’ll remember that back in 2004 an enterprising group of people (Maximilian DornseifMichael Becher, and Christian Klein) gave a series of talks on how to bypass many kinds of computer security using the FireWire ports. This attack, though obvious from reading the specification of the Firewire / i.LINK / IEEE 1394 bus, simply used a computer acting as a “rogue” device to read and modify any memory location on a target PC.

Yes, ANY memory location, and that’s quite supported, even required by the FireWire/iLink specification, which needs direct-memory-access for some devices (like iPODs) to function.

Enterprising people have written attacks that use this “exploit” to get around encryption products, and locked workstations on Mac, Linux and PC.

Read more…

Is Encryption enough? Why just encrypting data doesn’t solve today’s information security concerns.

September 3, 2009 7 comments

“But if it’s encrypted, why do I need to login?” the customer across the desk asks me with incredulity.

I realise that I’m about to get into a discussion which boarders on theological and raises passion in both security and business leaders alike. A discussion that I’ve had many times over the last two years, and will have many more times in the near future.

“Because, without authentication, there’s no point to encryption”. I reply, knowing full well that this isn’t an answer that’s wanted, or understood.

With a stifled sigh I start to explain.. Read more…