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Old 23rd February 2008, 2:17 AM   #1
chainbolt Thread Starter
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Default Freezing RAM a method to criticial data theft

"data was frozen in place"



A Method for Critical Data Theft


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Published: February 22, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO — A group led by a Princeton University computer security researcher has developed a simple method to steal encrypted information stored on computer hard disks.

The technique, which could undermine security software protecting critical data on computers, is as easy as chilling a computer memory chip with a blast of frigid air from a can of dust remover. Encryption software is widely used by companies and government agencies, notably in portable computers that are especially susceptible to theft.

The development, which was described on the group’s Web site Thursday, could also have implications for the protection of encrypted personal data from prosecutors.

The move, which cannot be carried out remotely, exploits a little-known vulnerability of the dynamic random access, or DRAM, chip. Those chips temporarily hold data, including the keys to modern data-scrambling algorithms. When the computer’s electrical power is shut off, the data, including the keys, is supposed to disappear.

In a technical paper that was published Thursday on the Web site of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, the group demonstrated that standard memory chips actually retain their data for seconds or even minutes after power is cut off.

When the chips were chilled using an inexpensive can of air, the data was frozen in place, permitting the researchers to easily read the keys — long strings of ones and zeros — out of the chip’s memory.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/te...l?ref=business
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Old 23rd February 2008, 9:10 AM   #2
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Pretty cool I guess but pointless beyond a demonstration dont you think?
It'd be harder to break into a place and steal the Dram from computers than to hack into them
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Old 23rd February 2008, 4:46 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Eggbert69 View Post
Pretty cool I guess but pointless beyond a demonstration dont you think?
It'd be harder to break into a place and steal the Dram from computers than to hack into them
Yep, a very unlikely scenario for a regular data thief to get data this way. But certainly a possibility for law enforcement and "similar" purposes. Also good to know: Even encrypted data can be "extracted" this way.
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Old 23rd February 2008, 5:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Eggbert69 View Post
Pretty cool
This man is spot on!!!!
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Old 23rd February 2008, 5:28 PM   #5
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woah nice
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Old 23rd February 2008, 5:36 PM   #6
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looks like the cold isnt just for over clocking
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Old 23rd February 2008, 10:22 PM   #7
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Why the $%^! are the keys not encrypted whilst in the RAM!?

Don't they ever think that people would go and read them while the PC is on?

OH WAIT a minute, we've been exploiting that "small" fault in all software since 1996 with game cracks, serials and keygens...sigh.
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Old 25th February 2008, 4:42 PM   #8
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Why the $%^! are the keys not encrypted whilst in the RAM!?

Don't they ever think that people would go and read them while the PC is on?

OH WAIT a minute, we've been exploiting that "small" fault in all software since 1996 with game cracks, serials and keygens...sigh.
The 'modern data-scrambling algorithms' they are talking about are slightly more complex than what you are talking about.

So you're saying they should be encrypted? With what? The keys used to decrypt the other keys would have to be stored somewhere as well you know...
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