[Noisebridge-discuss] Cold Boot Attacks on Disk Encryption

Mark Cohen markc at binaryfaith.com
Thu Feb 21 18:26:49 UTC 2008

Dan Farmer did a talk about this at a SVLUG a couple of years ago.

If you get a chance to hear him speak, it's worth it.


On Feb 21, 2008, at 9:53 AM, Jacob Appelbaum wrote:

> Hi all,
> This project has been under the radar for quite some time. During our
> hack nights, Bill, Seth and I had been working on this project. It is
> finally finished and so I thought I'd share the results with  
> everyone...
> Abstract:
> Contrary to popular assumption, DRAMs used in most modern computers
> retain their contents for seconds to minutes after power is lost, even
> at operating temperatures and even if removed from a motherboard.
> Although DRAMs become less reliable when they are not refreshed, they
> are not immediately erased, and their contents persist sufficiently  
> for
> malicious (or forensic) acquisition of usable full-system memory  
> images.
> We show that this phenomenon limits the ability of an operating system
> to protect cryptographic key material from an attacker with physical
> access. We use cold reboots to mount attacks on popular disk  
> encryption
> systems — BitLocker, FileVault, dm-crypt, and TrueCrypt — using no
> special devices or materials. We experimentally characterize the  
> extent
> and predictability of memory remanence and report that remanence times
> can be increased dramatically with simple techniques. We offer new
> algorithms for finding cryptographic keys in memory images and for
> correcting errors caused by bit decay. Though we discuss several
> strategies for partially mitigating these risks, we know of no simple
> remedy that would eliminate them.
> A good intro is on Ed Feltens blog:
> http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1257
> Our full paper, with a nice video and photos is here:
> http://citp.princeton.edu/memory/
> If you'd like to test your system, I think we can arrange something at
> the next Noisebridge meeting!
> Best,
> Jake
> _______________________________________________
> Noisebridge-discuss mailing list
> Noisebridge-discuss at lists.noisebridge.net
> https://www.noisebridge.net/mailman/listinfo/noisebridge-discuss

More information about the Noisebridge-discuss mailing list