Frozen ice cream sandwich coughs up crypto keys

Powered by SC Magazine
 

User data nabbed.

View larger image View larger image View larger image

See all pictures here »

Researchers have cracked encrypted user data on an Android phone by placing the device in a freezer to preserve RAM.

In doing so, they demonstrated that Android's implementation of full disk encryption, introduced in version 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich), was vulnerable to so-called cold boot attacks.

The attacks have been known for years but have not been applied to Android, the researchers said. 

To demonstrate the vulnerability, a rooted - or modified - Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone was placed in a freezer and cooled to minus 15C, a temperature which extends the decay of RAM.

The battery was then ejected and reinserted in less than a second, which was fast enough to reboot the phone while keeping RAM intact.

The phone was rebooted into the Android bootloader, where the FROST (forensic recovery of scrambled telephones) tool could be loaded.

"According to our results about the remanence effect, we can reboot a smartphone quickly while preserving a significant amount of RAM contents," the Erlangen University researchers wrote in a paper (pdf).

"Roughly speaking, we analyse the characteristics of the remanence effect on smartphones, prove that Android's boot sequence enable us to perform cold boot attacks, and show that valuable information can be retrieved from RAM."

The side channel attacks could be helpful to forensics professionals faced with encrypted phones.

"...Scrambled phones are a a nightmare for IT forensics and law enforcement, because once the power of a scrambled device is cut any chance other than brute force is lost to recover data."

Previous thought suggested cold-booting could preserve RAM for about 30 seconds, but the researchers found half of the available memory decayed within about six seconds at that temperature.

The encryption could be busted on only devices with open bootloaders, a feature made popular in rooted custom devices. Stock phones typically do not have open bootloaders however HTC has warmed to the process and offered assistance to users wanting to modify their devices.

But attackers could still swipe contacts, photos and emails from devices with locked bootloaders.

"After rebooting a Galaxy Nexus device, unlocking its bootloader, and booting up our recovery tool, we were still able to recover much sensitive information. Among others, we recovered emails, photos, contacts, calendar entries, WiFi credentials, and even the disk encryption key," the researchers said.

The researchers also provided tools to take forensic images of encrypted data or use brute force attacks against phone PINs.

Download the tools from the Univeristy's website.

Copyright © SC Magazine, Australia


 
 
 
Top Stories
Frugality as a service: the Amazon story
Behind the scenes, Amazon Web Services is one lean machine.
 
Negotiating with the cloud email megavendors
[Blog post] Lessons from Woolworths’ mammoth migration.
 
Qld govt to move up to 149k staff onto Office 365
Australia's largest deployment, outside of the universities.
 
 
Sign up to receive iTnews email bulletins
   FOLLOW US...

Latest VideosSee all videos »

The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
The great data centre opportunity on Australia's doorstep
Scott Noteboom, CEO of LitBit speaking at The Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2014 in the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. http://bit.ly/1qpxVfV Scott Noteboom is a data centre engineer who led builds for Apple and Yahoo in the earliest days of the cloud, and who now eyes Asia as the next big opportunity. Read more: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/372482,how-do-we-serve-three-billion-new-internet-users.aspx#ixzz2yNLmMG5C
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
Interview: Karl Maftoum, CIO, ACMA
To COTS or not to COTS? iTnews asks Karl Maftoum, CIO of the ACMA, at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
Susan Sly: What is the Role of the CIO?
AEMO chief information officer Susan Sly calls for more collaboration among Australia's technology leaders at the CIO Strategy Summit.
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Finance CIO of the Year
Credit Union Australia's David Gee awarded Finance CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards.
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Retail CIO of the Year
Damon Rees named Retail CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Woolworths.
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Robyn Elliott named the 2014 Utilities CIO of the Year
Acting Foxtel CIO David Marks accepts an iTnews Benchmark Award on behalf of Robyn Elliott.
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Industrial CIO of the Year
Sanjay Mehta named Industrial CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at ConocoPhillips.
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Healthcare CIO of the Year
Greg Wells named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at NSW Health.
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Education CIO of the Year
William Confalonieri named Healthcare CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at Deakin University.
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
Meet the 2014 Government CIO of the Year
David Johnson named Government CIO of the Year at the iTnews Benchmark Awards for his work at the Queensland Police Service.
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Q and A: Coalition Broadband Policy
Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott discuss the Coalition's broadband policy with the press.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
AFP scalps hacker 'leader' inside Australia's IT ranks.
The Australian Federal Police have arrested a Sydney-based IT security professional for hacking a government website.
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
NBN Petition Delivered To Turnbull's Office
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO: IT teams of the future
UTS CIO Chrissy Burns talks data.
New UTS Building: the IT within
New UTS Building: the IT within
The IT behind tomorrow's universities.
iTnews' NBN Panel
iTnews' NBN Panel
Is your enterprise NBN-ready?
Introducing iTnews Labs
Introducing iTnews Labs
See a timelapse of the iTnews labs being unboxed, set up and switched on! iTnews will produce independent testing of the latest enterprise software to hit the market after installing a purpose-built test lab in Sydney. Watch the installation of two DL380p servers, two HP StoreVirtual 4330 storage arrays and two HP ProCurve 2920 switches.
The True Cost of BYOD
The True Cost of BYOD
iTnews' Brett Winterford gives attendees of the first 'Touch Tomorrow' event in Brisbane a brief look at his research into enterprise mobility. What are the use cases and how can they be quantified? What price should you expect to pay for securing mobile access to corporate applications? What's coming around the corner?
Ghost clouds
Ghost clouds
ACMA chair Chris Chapman says there is uncertainty over whether certain classes of cloud service providers are caught by regulations.
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Was the Snowden leak inevitable?
Privacy experts David Vaile (UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre) and Craig Scroggie (CEO, NextDC) claim they were not surprised by the Snowden leaks about the NSA's PRISM program.
Latest Comments
Polls
Which bank is most likely to suffer an RBS-style meltdown?





   |   View results
ANZ
  21%
 
Bankwest
  9%
 
CommBank
  11%
 
National Australia Bank
  17%
 
Suncorp
  24%
 
Westpac
  19%
TOTAL VOTES: 1455

Vote