Feeds

Police at the door? Hit the PANIC button to erase your RAM

App wipes memory, encrypts hysterical hacker boxes

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

The next time the police kick down a hackers' door, suspects can reach for the Panic button to make it nigh-on impossible for plod to recover any data, even if they freeze their target PCs.

The Panic button is a new Python app called "Centry Panic" and was developed to mitigate cold boot and direct memory access attacks on Windows, Mac and Linux that could be used by forensics professionals to capture information from memory.

Cold boot attacks allow the fading contents of RAM to be preserved for reading after a target machine is shut down. Direct memory access side-channel attacks allow crypto keys to be yanked by attackers with access to the physical memory address space of a target machine.

Both attacks work after a computer's chips are chilled by about ten degrees centigrade, as doing so noticeably delays memory fade on systems running DDR1 and DDR2, according to a paper (pdf) published last year on the feasibility of cold boot attacks.

However the short window of time available to pull meaningful data in cold boot attacks coupled with the techniques failure to target DDR3 RAM raised doubts that the attacks were feasible. Academics said the lower voltage, higher integration density and resulting lower charges in DDR3 ram cells could explain the failure.

One experienced Melbourne forensics bod told El Reg he had not heard of any Australian Government agencies or police units using the technique, dubbing it a trick limited to the academic realm.

Even if cold boot attacks may not be effective in the real world, Centry Panic means villains and hacktivists have a way to defeat them.

The Python application is replete with a shiny graphical user interface would lock down Truecrypt disks, erase keys and overwrite RAM before shutting down a targeted system.

It can also propagate the panic commands to other nodes on a network.

Centry could be downloaded for free on GitHub. Its cryptographically-inclined developer was reachable on Twitter, where he is known as @0xPoly. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Infosec geniuses hack a Canon PRINTER and install DOOM
Internet of Stuff securo-cockups strike yet again
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.