Software techniques to prevent cold boot attacks on encryption keys

BitArmor released a new set of software-driven techniques that can prevent Cold Boot attacks by protecting cryptographic keys in encryption systems. Patrick McGregor Ph.D., CEO of BitArmor, will be sharing details of this software-based Cold Boot attack prevention approach during the Back Hat USA 2008 Briefings & Training conference on August 7, 2008.

BitArmor disk encryption technology prevents the following Cold Boot attacks:

  • DRAM access during hibernation and after shutdown: BitArmor scrubs keys using KeyScrubber technology immediately before the computer shuts down or goes into hibernation mode – accessing the memory will yield nothing.
  • DRAM access during sleep or screen-lock modes: BitArmor uses patent-pending cryptographic, OS and processor architecture techniques to provide robust protection. By creating a “virtual secure enclave” for encryption keys in software, an attacker cannot extract critical keys from memory – even if the RAM is super-cooled.
  • Booting an alternate operating system to recover RAM contents: BitArmor uses patent pending, advanced memory system techniques to prevent this attack.
  • Super-cooling RAM: Using built-in temperature sensors, BitArmor can lock down the system in reaction to temperature drops that may indicate a Cold Boot attack is in progress.

Patrick McGregor commented:

Recent Princeton University research showed that widely used disk encryption technologies may be putting critical laptop data at risk. This demonstration has made many organizations understand that their disk encryption solutions may no longer be the panacea for protecting critical data on laptops – deeper protection is required. The good news is that there are software-driven techniques that can defend against Cold Boot attacks on machines that have been shut off, machines that are hibernating or sleeping, and machines in screen lock mode.

BitArmor has developed patent-pending software techniques to prevent such attacks on encryption keys in memory in order to ensure that critical systems remain secure.

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