Feeds

Researchers release 'cold boot' attack utilities

A way around disk encryption

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

The security researcher who demonstrated the 'cold boot' attack has released the source code for the hack. The attack, first demonstrated in February, uses a set of utilities to lift crypto keys from memory even after a reboot.

A boon for hackers and computer forensics experts alike, the approach created a means to circumvent disk encryption simply by powering off a target machine which has been left hibernating or screen-locked, and quickly re-booting it to an external hard drive loaded with customised software. The attack worked because DRAM chips used by modern computers retain data for seconds or even minutes after being powered down, contrary to popular opinion. Cooling the chips wasn't absolutely necessary but aided the process in some cases.

Once the data is recovered utilities are needed to make sense of the information and perform functions such as correcting errors caused by bit decay.

The approach was pioneered by researchers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Princeton University and Wind River. One of the researchers involved in the celebrated hack, Jacob Appelbaum, released source code for the utilities used for it at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference in New York last weekend. It's hoped the release of the utilities will spur the development of countermeasures as well as raising awareness about the risks posed by the original attack.

A research paper on the attack along with explanatory video and code for the utilities can all be found here. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.