Nearly 'all modern computers' affected by cold boot attack, researchers warn
Nearly 'all modern computers' affected by cold boot attack, researchers warn
Cold boot attack leaves Apple Dell and Lenovo laptops at risk of data theft
16 September, 2018, 16:41
There's no immediate fix available for the new vulnerability, F-Secure said.
Finnish cyber-security company F-Secure have discovered a flaw with almost all modern desktops and latops that allow hackers to potentially steal sensitive information from your locked devices.
Many, many moons ago a vulnerability was discovered which would let you grab some or all of the data last written to RAM.
"Typically, organizations aren't prepared to protect themselves from an attacker that has physical possession of a company computer", says F-Secure's principal security consultant Olle Segerdahl.
F-Secure said that although the exploit requires some extra steps to the classic cold boot attack, it's proven to be effective against every modern laptop tested. However, Segerdahl and his team have discovered a way to disable the overwrite process and revive the decade-old cold boot attack method.
These attacks have been known since 2008, and most computers today have a safety measure where it removes the data stored on RAM to prevent hackers from stealing sensitive information.
The attacker then plugs in a USB stick containing a Linux operating system and boots the machine from that. Cold boot attacks involve rebooting a computer without following a proper shutdown process, then recovering data that remains briefly accessible in the RAM after the power is lost. It added, "Using a simple hardware tool, an attacker can rewrite the non-volatile memory chip that contains these settings, disable memory overwriting, and enable booting from external devices".
According to the researchers, "nearly all" modern computers are vulnerable to the attack, including laptops from major manufacturers such as Dell, Lenovo, and even Apple.
Interestingly, the vulnerability can not be fixed easily, and according to F-Secure, companies should be ready to deal with such attacks. Sleep mode and cold/hard reboots save critical information in the ram of the device. And although the researchers have shared their findings with Microsoft, Intel and Apple, mitigations are still a work in progress.
F-Secure advises everyone to always either shut down or hibernate their laptop, never just place it in sleep mode.
The researchers said cold boot attacks like this could provide a consistent way for threat actors to steal data because it works across platform.
The researchers say that their attack is reliable on Windows machines that are already running or do not require a PIN.
Apple responded by pointing to the latest generation of Macs, which have the T2 chip that do the encryption separately from the CPU and makes such an attack more hard to execute.
Apple claims that Macs with the T2 chip are immune to cold boot attacks - though this only includes the iMac Pro and 2018 MacBook Pro models - and suggested users with other Mac devices set a firmware password.
Over 895,000 without power as Florence batters Carolinas
Grey clouds hovered over the stadium, with the wind picking up enough to blow around papers and knock ballcaps off heads. The swift-water rescues on Saturday morning were mostly of people who hadn't heeded those orders, said Burgaw Fire Capt.
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Liverpool - Premier League - 15 September 2018
The Brazilian was forced off in the 74th minute following a battle with Jan Vertonghen and then sent for further examination. I haven't seen it back, I only saw the situation from 60 yards away so I've no clue what exactly happened.