Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys

April 1, 2008

Whilst I am sitting here testing some new encryption software for my company, it reminds me of an article I was sent by a friend recently regarding the possibility of recovering crypto keys from volatile RAM. Different RAM types have differing characteristics – some may fade over greater or less periods of time, however most take sufficient time for all of the bits to fade – and this can be prolonged considerably using a freezing agent directly onto the chips (for example using an `air duster` aerosol at close proximity). The basic concept is that you can (almost literally..)`freeze` the content of th RAM as it was prior to shutdown, including any loaded encryption keys, clear text data etc. Video example from princeton.edu here

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