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Pointsec Full Disk Encryption cracked

Published: 2008-03-12
Last Updated: 2008-03-13 15:07:51 UTC
by Joel Esler (Version: 3)
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Castor, one of our readers, wrote in to let us know about this article over at DarkReading. (Clarification:  DarkReading actually didn't write the article it just came in through their news feed section.  Thank you Kelly for writing me and letting me know.)

Headline: LuciData successfully cracks a laptop encrypted with Pointsec Full Disk Encryption on behalf of corporate client

Copy and Paste from article:

"This simple attack takes advantage of the FireWire protocol and its ability to directly access and modify the RAM of a target machine with a FireWire port installed. Using a simple and readily available forensics software tool, it is possible to connect a FireWire cable to a computer, and within seconds bypass the Windows authentication and log in as a local administrator.

This attack is made possible because the operating system on the computer loads and boots directly into Windows without first asking for a Pointsec ‘preboot authentication’ password. Normally, with whole disk encryption, a user is required to enter a password immediately upon turning the machine on. That password is what unlocks the decryption key and allows the rest of the operating system to load and execute. This FireWire attack would not be successful in that case, because the attack requires that Windows already be up and running. In the circumstance of a properly configured encrypted computer, a stolen system that is powered off would be well protected from unauthorized access and this type of attack."

The workaround for this according to Pointsec (Checkpoint) is to have the administrators that have the Pointsec solution deployed in their networks to re-deploy it with the "Pre-boot authentication" enabled.

 Update:  Since this article seems to have generated a bit of controversy, I'll update it.  A couple of points:

#1)  It looks like LuciData is simply trying to throw their hat in the recent ring of "cracking" disk encryption through the firewire interface.  This is largely a marketing press release.

#2)  It also appears to not be a new crack, at face value it looks like the same thing that we've been seeing for a couple weeks now.

#3)  I don't claim credit for the article, I thought it was at least newsworthy since Pointsec put out a fix-it for the problem, that probably should have been done to begin with. 

So for all those people who were thinking that I endorsed the article or something, no.  I just thought it was interesting.

 

Joel Esler

http://www.joelesler.net

 

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