Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

Forensic Tool Cracks BitLocker, PGP, TrueCrypt Containers

ElcomSoft's Forensic Disk Decryptor uses PC memory dumps to crack passwords associated with BitLocker, PGP and TrueCrypt archives.

Who Is Hacking U.S. Banks? 8 Facts
Who Is Hacking U.S. Banks? 8 Facts
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
A new software tool, Elcomsoft Forensic Disk Decryptor, promises to decrypt encryption containers created using BitLocker, PGP and TrueCrypt.

The software from ElcomSoft -- a Russian provider of encryption-cracking software and other digital forensic tools -- accomplishes the feat not by cracking the containers themselves, but rather by exploiting the fact that once the containers are accessed, the decryption passwords get stored in computer memory. The software is designed to be used by digital forensic investigators -- for example, when investigating suspected insider theft incidents.

"BitLocker, PGP and TrueCrypt set [an] industry standard in the area of whole-disk and partition encryption," said ElcomSoft CEO Vladimir Katalov in a blog post. "All three tools provide strong, reliable protection, and offer a perfect implementation of strong crypto." As a result, he said that if a user of those tools picks a long, complex password, cracking the encryption container outright would likely be impossible.

[ Forensics software can be a crucial tool in busting the bad guys. Read Cracking Bin Laden's Hard Drives. ]

One encryption container Achilles heel, however, happens when the containers get accessed on a computer. "No one likes typing their long, complex passwords every time they need to read or write a file," said Katalov. "As a result, keys used to encrypt and decrypt data that's being written or read from protected volumes are kept readily accessible in the computer's operating memory. Obviously, what's kept readily accessible can be retrieved near instantly by a third-party tool."

What's needed first, however, is a memory dump, which can be grabbed either using forensic tools, or via a Firewire attack, even if a computer is in hibernation or sleep mode. The Elcomsoft tool then attempts to extract the encryption keys from that dump. "The new product includes algorithms allowing us to analyze dumps of computers' volatile memory, locating areas that contain the decryption keys," Katalov said. "Sometimes the keys are discovered by analyzing byte sequences, and sometimes by examining crypto containers' internal structures. When searching for PGP keys, the user can significantly speed up the process if the exact encryption algorithm is known."

But there's one big caveat when grabbing the needed memory dumps: The targeted encryption containers must be mounted to the computer. "It's important that encrypted volumes are mounted at the time a memory dump is obtained or the PC goes to sleep; otherwise, the decryption keys are destroyed and the content of encrypted volumes cannot be decrypted without knowing the original plain-text password," said Katalov.

The three encryption containers targeted by the software comprise some of the most-used file encryption tools on the market. Microsoft's BitLocker To Go, for example, allows data on removable devices to be encrypted and is included with some premium versions of Windows 7 and Vista, as well as Windows 8.

TrueCrypt, meanwhile, is well-regarded open source data encryption software that currently runs on Windows 7, Vista and XP, as well as Mac OS X and Linux systems. Finally, PGP -- which stands for Pretty Good Privacy -- is available from Symantec, which acquired PGP in 2010.

Elcomsoft also has added plug-ins for TrueCrypt and BitLocker To Go to its Distributed Password Recovery software, which allows users to subject encryption containers to a variety of brute-force attack techniques, as well as a dictionary, password mask and permutation attacks.

Recent breaches have tarnished digital certificates, the Web security technology. The new, all-digital Digital Certificates issue of Dark Reading gives five reasons to keep it going. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
SecurasiV554
50%
50%
SecurasiV554,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/3/2013 | 11:19:34 AM
re: Forensic Tool Cracks BitLocker, PGP, TrueCrypt Containers
Try SECURASI (www.securasi.com) which is a far better ( secure , easier to use) to protect your sensitive files on your computers and online. It is a digital safe that doesn't store it's encryption keys in memory unlike these products mentioned in the article. Any questions, please write to us [email protected]
Commentary
What the FedEx Logo Taught Me About Cybersecurity
Matt Shea, Head of Federal @ MixMode,  6/4/2021
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
A View From Inside a Deception
Sara Peters, Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/2/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The State of Cybersecurity Incident Response
In this report learn how enterprises are building their incident response teams and processes, how they research potential compromises, how they respond to new breaches, and what tools and processes they use to remediate problems and improve their cyber defenses for the future.
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-34682
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
Receita Federal IRPF 2021 1.7 allows a man-in-the-middle attack against the update feature.
CVE-2021-31811
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
In Apache PDFBox, a carefully crafted PDF file can trigger an OutOfMemory-Exception while loading the file. This issue affects Apache PDFBox version 2.0.23 and prior 2.0.x versions.
CVE-2021-31812
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
In Apache PDFBox, a carefully crafted PDF file can trigger an infinite loop while loading the file. This issue affects Apache PDFBox version 2.0.23 and prior 2.0.x versions.
CVE-2021-32552
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
It was discovered that read_file() in apport/hookutils.py would follow symbolic links or open FIFOs. When this function is used by the openjdk-16 package apport hooks, it could expose private data to other local users.
CVE-2021-32553
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-12
It was discovered that read_file() in apport/hookutils.py would follow symbolic links or open FIFOs. When this function is used by the openjdk-17 package apport hooks, it could expose private data to other local users.