Re: Need a simple, secure way to transport & access sensitive data?

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by nemo_outis, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. nemo_outis

    nemo_outis Guest

    Prof Wonmug <> wrote in
    news:p:

    ....snipped for brevity...

    You have not fully specified your problem before going about making an
    inventory of possible solutions. For instance, what (who, where, when,
    why, etc.) are the risks and threats and what are the capabilities and
    resources of your adversaries? (e.g. family members, friends, business
    associates, hackers/malware, system admins, police forces, major
    intelligence services). Do you need portability for use on other
    (potentially insecure or even hostile) computers? Will you cross
    international borders? Etc., etc.

    If all you're looking for is security against low-level threats
    (essentially you just want to keep honest people honest) then any of your
    listed alternatives should do. If you want security against more serious
    threats then Ironkey is clearly the best. But note and note well - any or
    all of these "solutions" (from Truecrypt to Ironkey) only protects data "at
    rest"; each can easily be compromised if used on some hostile computer.
    Once you enter that password (PIN, etc.) and begin to *actually use* the
    data you are "at risk" - *severely* at risk if you haven't vetted the
    computer (including your own!). In short, we must always remember that
    "we" are not the users of a computer - the hardware, OS and applications
    are the real "user." All our computing activities are intermediated by
    these and if they're corrupt, we're fucked. (IOW you may be
    overconcentrating on an aspect - security of data at rest - that is not the
    most serious risk.)

    Incidentally, while I have some personal reservations about the
    trustworthiness of Truecrypt, many others are satisfied by its (quasi)
    open-source nature. Unless you're a member of the lunatic fringe (like me
    :) its cryptographic aspects should be entirely satisfactory. But
    Truecrypt does have one "gotcha" that applies to its use on others'
    computers: you *must have administrator rights on the (Windows) computer on
    which it will be used* in order to use it (yes, even for the portable
    version). This is because decryption requires installation of a driver
    (temporarily in the case of the portable version) and installing a driver
    needs admin rights. This problem is not unique to Truecypt and applies to
    several other such encryption programs. It can severely limit portablity
    (e.g., internet cafes, etc. which seldom grant admin rights to casual
    users). The only solution to the "driver probem" is a device with its own
    crypto processor (e.g., "special" usb stick, Apricorn, Seagate encrypted
    HD, etc.).

    Regards,
    nemo_outis, Jan 1, 2010
    #1
    1. Advertising


  2. > This problem is not unique to Truecypt and applies to
    > several other such encryption programs. It can severely limit portablity
    > (e.g., internet cafes, etc. which seldom grant admin rights to casual
    > users). The only solution to the "driver probem" is a device with its
    > own > crypto processor (e.g., "special" usb stick, Apricorn, Seagate
    > encrypted
    > HD, etc.).
    >


    FreeOTFE Explorer doesn't need admin rights and runs in portable mode.

    http://www.freeotfe.org/



    --
    Privacylover: http://www.privacylover.com
    Frank Merlott, Jan 2, 2010
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. nemo_outis

    nemo_outis Guest

    Prof Wonmug <> wrote in
    news::

    > On Fri, 01 Jan 2010 20:32:47 GMT, "nemo_outis" <> wrote:
    >
    >>Prof Wonmug <> wrote in
    >>news:p:
    >>
    >>...snipped for brevity...
    >>
    >>You have not fully specified your problem before going about making an
    >>inventory of possible solutions. For instance, what (who, where,
    >>when, why, etc.) are the risks and threats and what are the
    >>capabilities and resources of your adversaries? (e.g. family members,
    >>friends, business associates, hackers/malware, system admins, police
    >>forces, major intelligence services). Do you need portability for use
    >>on other (potentially insecure or even hostile) computers? Will you
    >>cross international borders? Etc., etc.

    >
    > OK. This is NOT the launch codes. Interpol will not be interested in
    > this data. ;-)
    >
    > Seriously, it's company information. Most of it is not all that
    > sensitive. I'm mainly interested in preventing someone who happens to
    > find or steal the laptop from easily being able to read the data.


    OK - I take it from your response that we're talking about only one machine (a
    laptop), not any questions of data portability to other machines, etc. In which
    case the obvious question is why a removable device? (e.g., USB stick, etc.). Why
    not instead encrypt the whole laptop itself (i.e., encrypt all its drives with
    whole-disk encryption - not just partitions or container files - using truecrypt,
    bestcrypt, PGP wholedisk, drivecrypt, free compusec, etc.)? This gives
    significantly better protection.

    > I'm willing to trust that the hardware and OS is free of malware. I
    > take reasonable precautions.


    While the following comment is a somewhat facetious paradox, it does make a point:
    "If the physical security of the laptop was adequate there'd be no need for
    encryption." While I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm urging you to reflect
    carefully on your statement, "I'm willing to trust that the hardware and OS is
    free of malware."

    For example, a cogent question is whether you're only worried about "single
    event" security breaches or "multiple event" ones. Laptop theft, single
    opportunistic exam, etc. fall under the single-event scenario and are fairly easy
    to protect against with the available tools; two-event breaches (one surreptitious
    event to plant malware, corrupt the OS, install a HW keylogger, etc. and a second
    event to harvest the data, passwords, etc.) are a much more difficult situation
    requiring far greater physical security as a preventative measure. I suggest that
    the minimally adequate protection for a laptop not stored in a locked room (or
    safe!) between uses is whole-disk encryption, an MBR restorer/checker, and tamper-
    indicating seals to disclose if the case has been opened.

    Regards,
    nemo_outis, Jan 3, 2010
    #3
    1. Advertising

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

It takes just 2 minutes to sign up (and it's free!). Just click the sign up button to choose a username and then you can ask your own questions on the forum.
Similar Threads
  1. larya
    Replies:
    7
    Views:
    528
    thanatoid
    Sep 11, 2006
  2. E-Lock Digital Signature

    Authenticate and Secure the sensitive Data

    E-Lock Digital Signature, Apr 13, 2007, in forum: Computer Support
    Replies:
    0
    Views:
    913
    E-Lock Digital Signature
    Apr 13, 2007
  3. Replies:
    0
    Views:
    582
  4. VanguardLH
    Replies:
    1
    Views:
    1,212
    VanguardLH
    Dec 31, 2009
  5. ♥Ari♥
    Replies:
    0
    Views:
    1,213
    ♥Ari♥
    Jan 2, 2010
Loading...

Share This Page