An ice-cold Boot to break BitLocker

An ice-cold Boot to break BitLocker
By Olle Segerdahl & Pasi Saarinen

A decade ago, academic researchers demonstrated how computer memory remanence could be used to defeat popular disk encryption systems. Not much has happened since, and most seem to believe that these attacks are too impractical for real world use. Even Microsoft have even started to play down the threat of memory remanence attacks against BitLocker, using words such as “they are not possible using published techniques”. We will publish techniques that allow recovery of BitLocker encryption keys from RAM on most, if not all, currently available devices. While BitLocker is called out in the title, the same attacks are also valid against other platforms and operating systems.

Olle is a veteran of the IT-security industry, having worked with both “breaking” and “building” security solutions for almost 20 years. During that time, he has worked on securing classified systems, critical infrastructure and cryptographic products as well as building software whitelisting solutions used by industrial robots and medical equipment. He is currently the Swedish Principal Security Consultant with F-Secure’s technical security consulting practice.

Pasi is an experienced security researcher with a background in both software and network security. In previous employment he has worked on a modern framework for white-box fuzz testing of binaries and security standardization of the 5G mobile network. While he has a very Finnish name, he plays for team Sweden in F-Secure’s technical security consulting practice.


Microsoft Research 2017: The Seven Properties of Highly Secure Devices

The Seven Properties of Highly Secure Devices
March 31, 2017

Industry largely underestimates the critical societal need to embody the highest levels of security in every network-connected device—every child’s toy, every household’s appliances, and every industry’s equipment. High development and maintenance costs have limited strong security to high-cost or highmargin devices. Our group has begun a research agenda to bring high-value security to low-cost devices. We are especially concerned with the tens of billions of devices powered by microcontrollers. This class of devices is particularly ill-prepared for the security challenges of internet connectivity. Insufficient investments in the security needs of these and other price-sensitive devices have left consumers and society critically exposed to device security and privacy failures. This paper makes two contributions to the field of device security. First, we identify seven properties we assert are required in all highly secure devices. Second, we describe our experiment working with a silicon partner to revise one of their microcontrollers to create a prototype, highly secure microcontroller. Our experimental results suggest that in the near future even the most price-sensitive devices should be redesigned to achieve the high levels of device security critical to society’s safety. While our first experimental results are promising, more ongoing research remains and we seek to enlist the broader security community in a dialog on device security.


Virtualization-based security (VBS) memory enclaves: Data protection through isolation

I’m glad that Virtualization-Based Security has replaced VisualBasic Script as the new acronym for VBS. 🙂

The escalating sophistication of cyberattacks is marked by the increased use of kernel-level exploits that attempt to run malware with the highest privileges and evade security solutions and software sandboxes. Kernel exploits famously gave the WannaCry and Petya ransomware remote code execution capability, resulting in widescale global outbreaks. Windows 10 remained resilient to these attacks, with Microsoft constantly raising the bar in platform security to stay ahead of threat actors. Virtualization-based security (VBS) hardens Windows 10 against attacks by using the Windows hypervisor to create an environment that isolates a secure region of memory known as secure memory enclaves.[…]


Inside Microsoft’s Azure Sphere hardware for secure IoT

Simon BIsson of InfoWorld has an article on Microsoft Azure Sphere, about various security components, and a bit on Sphere OS, their Linux distro.

Microsoft: C++ Developer Guidance for Speculative Execution Side Channels

C++ Developer Guidance for Speculative Execution Side Channels
Matt Miller Colin Robertson Mike B

This article contains guidance for developers to assist with identifying and mitigating speculative execution side channel hardware vulnerabilities in C++ software. These vulnerabilities can disclose sensitive information across trust boundaries and can affect software that runs on processors that support speculative, out-of-order execution of instructions. This class of vulnerabilities was first described in January, 2018 and additional background and guidance can be found in Microsoft’s security advisory. The guidance provided by this article is related to the class of vulnerabilities represented by CVE-2017-5753, also known as Spectre variant 1. This hardware vulnerability class is related to side channels that can arise due to speculative execution that occurs as a result of a conditional branch misprediction. The Visual C++ compiler in Visual Studio 2017 (starting with version 15.5.5) includes support for the /Qspectre switch provides a compile-time mitigation for a limited set of potentially vulnerable coding patterns related to CVE-2017-5753. The documentation for the /Qspectre flag provides more information on its effects and usage.[…]

[…]An accessible introduction to speculative execution side channel vulnerabilities can be found in the presentation titled The Case of Spectre and Meltdown by one of the research teams that discovered these issues.[…]


VMWare and Microsoft Virtualization Based Security (VBS)

Introducing support for Virtualization Based Security and Credential Guard in vSphere 6.7
Mike Foley

Microsoft virtualization-based security, also known as “VBS”, is a feature of the Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 operating systems. It uses hardware and software virtualization to enhance Windows system security by creating an isolated, hypervisor-restricted, specialized subsystem. Starting with vSphere 6.7, you can now enable Microsoft (VBS) on supported Windows guest operating systems. You may or may not be familiar with these new Windows features. Based on conversations I have with security teams, you might want to become familiar! What you will hear first and foremost is the requirement for “Credential Guard” which is why I added that to the title. In order to level set the conversation in this blog I will go over the features as they related to a bare metal installation of Windows and then a Windows VM on ESXi.[…]

Microsoft introduces Trusted Cyber Physical Systems (TCPS)

Trusted Cyber Physical Systems looks to protect your critical infrastructure from modern threats in the world of IoT
Thomas Pfenning / Director Software Engineering
April 24, 2018

This week at Hannover Messe 2018 in Germany, we are excited to demonstrate how Microsoft is utilizing its more than 25 years of embedded and hardware security experience with a new project codenamed Trusted Cyber Physical Systems (TCPS). This solution seeks to provide end-to-end security that is resilient to today’s cyber-attacks so our industrial customers can operate their critical infrastructures with confidence and with no negative impact to their intellectual property and customer experience.[…]

Click to access TCPS-WP.pdf

Click to access Protecting-Critical-Infrastructure.pdf

Microsoft Azure Sphere

A diagram that shows the MCU architecture. It includes sections for: Microsoft Pluton Security Subsystem, flash, Connectivity, application processor, SRAM, real-time processor, and firewalls.

WinMagic on Microsoft Pre-Boot Full Disk Encryption Authentication

WinMagic makes full-disk encryption products, including a UEFI one, which the UEFI CA (Microsoft) signs, AFAIK.

Is Microsoft really claiming Pre-Boot Authentication for Full Disk Encryption is not necessary?[…]To summarize, Microsoft has got this one wrong. The fault in their logic is thinking that PBA is limited to protection against memory attacks AFTER automatically unlocking the drive. They missed the whole point of PBA, which is to prevent anything being read from the drive, such as the operating system BEFORE the user has confirmed they have the correct password or other credentials. PBA is a necessary component of a FDE solution in order to fully achieve the confidentiality (and compliance) that full disk encryption is capable of providing.

Geoff Chappell: Secure Boot internals

DRAFT: Take more than your usual care.

The SYSTEM_SECUREBOOT_POLICY_FULL_INFORMATION structure is what a successful call to ZwQuerySystemInformation or NtQuerySystemInformation produces in its output buffer when given the information class SystemSecureBootPolicyFullInformation (0xAB).
Documentation Status



Total Meltdown for Windows 7: follow-up

Update on Microsoft UEFI Github projects


Last year at the UEFI Forum Spring Plugfest, Microsoft announced a new Github tree with UEFI-centric code.

This year, they talked about some new code on that tree.

Honestly, I thought that they haven’t been doing anything in a year, but it ends up all the activity has been in the BRANCHES:

For example:

So, there’s a lot of new Microosoft UEFI-related code on this tree, just not on the master. 🙂

Microsoft Windows: Kernel Virtual Address (KVA) Shadow: mitigating Meltdown

KVA Shadow: Mitigating Meltdown on Windows

On January 3rd, 2018, Microsoft released an advisory and security updates that relate to a new class of discovered hardware vulnerabilities, termed speculative execution side channels, that affect the design methodology and implementation decisions behind many modern microprocessors. This post dives into the technical details of Kernel Virtual Address (KVA) Shadow which is the Windows kernel mitigation for one specific speculative execution side channel: the rogue data cache load vulnerability (CVE-2017-5754, also known as “Meltdown” or “Variant 3”). KVA Shadow is one of the mitigations that is in scope for Microsoft’s recently announced Speculative Execution Side Channel bounty program. It’s important to note that there are several different types of issues that fall under the category of speculative execution side channels, and that different mitigations are required for each type of issue. Additional information about the mitigations that Microsoft has developed for other speculative execution side channel vulnerabilities (“Spectre”), as well as additional background information on this class of issue, can be found here. Please note that the information in this post is current as of the date of this post.[…]


Microsoft Project Denali

Microsoft creates industry standards for datacenter hardware storage and security
March 20, 2018
Kushagra Vaid General Manager, Azure Hardware Infrastructure

Today I’m speaking at the Open Compute Project (OCP) U.S. Summit 2018 in San Jose where we are announcing a next generation specification for solid state device (SSD) storage, Project Denali. We’re also discussing Project Cerberus, which provides a critical component for security protection that to date has been missing from server hardware: protection, detection and recovery from attacks on platform firmware. Both storage and security are the next frontiers for hardware innovation, and today we’re highlighting the latest advancements across these key focus areas to further the industry in enabling the future of the cloud.[…]

Flash storage

Microsoft: Mitigating speculative execution side channel hardware vulnerabilities

Microsoft updates: Windows OEM security guidance

Standards for a highly secure Windows 10 device
These standards are for general purpose laptops, tablets, 2-in-1’s, mobile workstations, and desktops. This topic applies specifically and uniquely for Windows 10 version 1709, Fall Creators Update. If you are a decision maker purchasing new devices and you want to enable the best possible security configuration, your device should meet or exceed these standards. Beyond the hardware and firmware configurations outlined below, Microsoft recommends running Windows 10 S for security. Windows 10 S is a specific configuration of Windows 10 Pro that offers a familiar Windows experience that’s streamlined for security and performance. Windows 10 S provides the best of the cloud and full featured apps, and is designed for modern devices. Windows Defender is always on and always up-to-date.[…]



Deconstructing the Xbox Boot ROM

[…]I recently wanted to do a bit of reverse-engineering and so I decided to deconstruct the boot ROM to better understand the Xbox security system. In this article, I will present the high-level boot flow of the system, the disassembled ROM code, pseudocode for the disassembly, along with some thoughts. It should be known that there is essentially no new information presented in this article. The many flaws of the Xbox security system have already been well documented years ago by some really smart people. That said, I am not aware of a similar disassembly of the ROM, so perhaps this article will serve as a guide for others who are interested.[…]

Xbox-Console-Set by Evan-Amos