Feeds

Boffins devise way to hide secret data on hard drives

Technique evades forensics investigations

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Computer scientists have developed software that hides sensitive data on hard drive, without the use of encryption, by controlling the precise disk locations containing the file's data fragments.

The application, which the academic researchers said they would release as open-source software, makes use of steganography, or the ancient art of hiding secret information in plain sight. The technique has long been employed to keep sensitive data out of the hands of adversaries. The use of encryption, by contrast, is easy to detect, tipping off adversaries that a hard drive or other piece of media contains information considered secret.

The software ensures that individual disk clusters that store the sensitive data fragments are positioned in a way predetermined by their code. A person who later wants to read the secret information uses the same application to reassemble the file. The inventors said their method makes it possible to stealthily store a 20-megabyte message on a 160-gigabyte portable hard drive.

“We have presented a novel data security mechanism, a filesystem-based covert channel which allows a user to evade disk forensics by securely hiding data in a removable or permanent mass storage device,” the researchers wrote in their paper, titled Designing a cluster-based covert channel to evade disk investigation and forensics. “Information is hidden in a manner such that an investigator is unable to positively prove the existence of hidden data.”

The researchers, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan, said the technique may cause only small performance degradations. In some cases, the approach requires the data to be hidden through the use of a secret shared between the sender and recipient. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Shellshock over SMTP attacks mean you can now ignore your email
'But boss, the Internet Storm Centre says it's dangerous for me to reply to you'
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.