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Freezing the Cold-Boot Attack

3:45 PM

By Kelly Jackson Higgins
Senior Editor, Dark Reading

A security expert next week at Black Hat USA will reveal the technical details of methods he developed for protecting an encrypted machine against the cold-boot attack recently discovered by researchers at Princeton University .

The software-based techniques defend against so-called cold boot attacks on machines that were recently shut down or are in hibernate or screen-lock modes, by protecting the encryption keys themselves. The cold boot attack basically takes advantage of a brief window when cryptographic keys remain stored in DRAM at shutdown or in sleep mode to then retrieve those keys.

To date, most preventative measures have required users to turn off their machines when they were finished, and to then sit and watch them for about five minutes, says Patrick McGregor, CEO of BitArmor, which has built technology to defend against cold-boot attacks.

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