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

3/5/2008
09:15 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

USB & Firewall System Attacks Surface: Disable Your External Media Ports

It appears as though, more than ever before, if you lose physical sight, and especially control, of your notebook, your data could be hosed. This is even more so now that tools that attack disk-based crypto are surfacing at an alarming rate.

It appears as though, more than ever before, if you lose physical sight, and especially control, of your notebook, your data could be hosed. This is even more so now that tools that attack disk-based crypto are surfacing at an alarming rate.It hasn't been too long since we covered the so-called "cold boot" attacks outlined by several security researchers. The paper, available here, details how encryption keys can be snatched from RAM.

A couple of days ago a researcher released a tool, msramdmp, which is available here, and details how to grab data from RAM.

Today, Kelly Jackson Higgins details, on our sister site, DarkReading, in this story, about additional tools coming to the fore that make it possible for attackers to use Firewire drives to commandeer locked Windows systems.

From the story:

"That Firewire port is, as designed, literally there to let you plug things into your laptop memory banks," says Thomas Ptacek, principal with Matasano Security. "When you think of Firewire, you really should just think of a cable coming directly out of your system's DRAM banks. That's basically all Firewire is."

Ptacek says this tool raises the bar in physical hacking. "People think about physical hacking as something you have to do with a screwdriver and 20 minutes, under cover of darkness. Attacks like Adam's can be done in the time it takes you to pick up a sheet of paper off the office printer," he says.

In the story, Ptacek advises users that the best defense is to disable their Firewire ports. That may be good advice for enterprises with lots of sensitive data on notebooks. It's probably not practical for anyone doing video editing, or managing large graphic files. And while it's not a perfect solution, it's better than nothing. So it's probably a good time for larger enterprises to evaluate whether or not external ports should be disabled, especially for execs and others carrying sensitive information.

The best defense, obviously, is not to lose sight of notebooks. It's also probably time to start calling full disk encryption vendors and ask how they're mitigating the risk to these attacks.

But I wouldn't expect much, as Thomas Claburn reminds us, in this story, of one of Microsoft's 10 Immutable Laws of Security:

"If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it's not your computer anymore."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Commentary
Ransomware Is Not the Problem
Adam Shostack, Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Game Designer,  6/9/2021
Edge-DRsplash-11-edge-ask-the-experts
How Can I Test the Security of My Home-Office Employees' Routers?
John Bock, Senior Research Scientist,  6/7/2021
News
New Ransomware Group Claiming Connection to REvil Gang Surfaces
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  6/10/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
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-2021-31618
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-15
Apache HTTP Server protocol handler for the HTTP/2 protocol checks received request headers against the size limitations as configured for the server and used for the HTTP/1 protocol as well. On violation of these restrictions and HTTP response is sent to the client with a status code indicating why...
CVE-2021-20027
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
A buffer overflow vulnerability in SonicOS allows a remote attacker to cause a Denial of Service (DoS) by sending a specially crafted request. This vulnerability affects SonicOS Gen5, Gen6, Gen7 platforms, and SonicOSv virtual firewalls.
CVE-2021-32684
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
magento-scripts contains scripts and configuration used by Create Magento App, a zero-configuration tool-chain which allows one to deploy Magento 2. In versions 1.5.1 and 1.5.2, after changing the function from synchronous to asynchronous there wasn't implemented handler in the start, stop, exec, an...
CVE-2021-34693
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
net/can/bcm.c in the Linux kernel through 5.12.10 allows local users to obtain sensitive information from kernel stack memory because parts of a data structure are uninitialized.
CVE-2021-27887
PUBLISHED: 2021-06-14
Cross-site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the main dashboard of Ellipse APM versions allows an authenticated user or integrated application to inject malicious data into the application that can then be executed in a victim’s browser. This issue affects: Hitachi ABB Power Grids ...