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Lest We Remember: Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys

Computer forensics discussion. Please ensure that your post is not better suited to one of the forums below (if it is, please post it there instead!)
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Minesh
Senior Member
 

Lest We Remember: Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys

Post Posted: Feb 22, 08 02:28

Came across this on my travels.


Contrary to popular assumption, DRAMs used in most modern computers retain their contents for seconds to minutes after power is lost, even at room temperature 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 successful attacks on popular disk encryption systems 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.


22 Pages (PDF): citp.princeton.edu.nyu...ldboot.pdf

Kind Regards,

Minesh  
 
  

hogfly
Senior Member
 

Re: Lest We Remember: Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys

Post Posted: Feb 22, 08 02:54

Jamie, Can we merge this and the other thread:
www.forensicfocus.com/...pic&t=2288  
 

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