U.S. Gov't to use Full Disk Encryption on All Computers

Discussion in 'Computer Security' started by Saqib Ali, Dec 29, 2006.

  1. Saqib Ali

    Saqib Ali Guest

    To address the issue of data leaks from stolen or missing laptops, US
    Government is planning to use Full Disk Encryption (FDE) on all of the
    Government owned computers. On June 23, 2006 a Presidential Mandate was
    put in place requiring all agency laptops to fully encrypt data on the
    HDD. The US Government is currently conducting the largest single
    side-by-side comparison and competition for the selection of a Full
    Disk Encryption product. This implementation will end up being the
    largest single implementation ever, and all of the information
    regarding the competition is in the public domain. The selected product
    will be deployed on Millions of computers in the US federal government
    space. The evaluation will come to a end in 90 days.

    ....... Read complete article at:
    Saqib Ali, Dec 29, 2006
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  2. Saqib Ali

    Guest Guest

    Guest, Dec 30, 2006
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  3. Saqib Ali

    Vanguard Guest

    Still won't help with all those boobs that walk away from their laptop
    to leave it unattended while still logged on and without the screen
    saver enabled or session otherwise locked out.
    Vanguard, Dec 31, 2006
  4. Or with the username and password on a post-it attached to the laptop...

    Juergen Nieveler
    Juergen Nieveler, Dec 31, 2006
  5. Saqib Ali

    Guest Guest

    All very good points, no software will stop the total incompetence of the
    users except replacing them with robots :-/
    Guest, Dec 31, 2006
  6. Saqib Ali

    Rick Merrill Guest

    Sure it will because the "mandate" must also require that the computer
    automatically logout after 5 minutes of no use!
    Rick Merrill, Jan 1, 2007
  7. Saqib Ali

    Rick Merrill Guest

    I would assume that the encryption would also accompany compression. It
    takes about as many cycles to decompress as it does to decrypt?
    Rick Merrill, Jan 1, 2007
  8. Saqib Ali

    Saqib Ali Guest

    With FDE, the encryption is not a off-line process. Every bit is
    encrypted at the Kernel or Hardware level as it is written to the HDD
    platter. Think of it as a stream cipher. So there is no compression or
    decompression involved......

    Saqib Ali, Jan 1, 2007
  9. Saqib Ali

    William Guest

    But does this mandate also require that the computer users don't accept
    any old active-X plugin? Or prohibit Java except for certain webhosts?
    William, Jan 1, 2007
  10. Saqib Ali

    William Guest

    Does this full-disk encryption protect against most trojan-downloader
    users, though? I mean, if some program like Back Orifice got onto the
    machine, then couldn't the remote cracker get access to the data, even
    though the entire disk is encrypted, via whatever host-kernal's
    encryption/decryption mechanism?
    William, Jan 1, 2007
  11. This is not the threat they're attempting to deal with, so why is this
    relevant? No single mandate is expected to be a panacea that can solve
    all problems. They're trying to deal with the problems that have been
    caused by all the highly-publicized losses of laptops.
    Barry Margolin, Jan 1, 2007
  12. Why? The one has nothing to do with the other (besides some base
    theories). Compressed encryption would, however, increase security,
    because it would destroy a lot of redundancy. But firstly this is not
    possible for online encryption. Secondly it would decrease performance
    drastically. And finally today's encryption modes (to mention at least
    CBC and LRW; the latter is favorable IMO) successfully scramble that

    Happy new year --
    Ertugrul Soeylemez, Jan 1, 2007
  13. Saqib Ali

    Rick Merrill Guest

    There are tools that compress using a password - think of runlength
    encoding with a CRC.
    Rick Merrill, Jan 1, 2007
  14. Saqib Ali

    Saqib Ali Guest

    Does this full-disk encryption protect against most trojan-downloader
    That is not what the objective of this project is. The project is aimed
    towards protecting the data while it is "at rest". i.e. in case of the
    theft of the mobile device. The intend is to prevent exposure of
    confidential data when a Gov't agency loses a laptop.

    But having said that, Enova's X-Wall Asic (Hardware based FDE) supports
    a "Pass Through Mode". Which makes it possible to configure your
    system such that any attempt to download data to an "outside the box"
    location (e.g. a Web Site or other IP address) would automatically
    invoke the "Pass Though Mode" and all the downloader gets is the
    encrypted data.

    If you are the owner of that data you can still have access if you have
    an X-Wall enabled device using the same key/dongle combination. This
    way you can have secure access to you data anywhere you are so long as
    you have a network connection.

    Saqib Ali, Jan 1, 2007
  15. Yes, but "compression using a password" is actually "compressing, and
    then encrypting with a password". The CRC is something completely
    independent of both steps. It only helps spotting transmission errors.
    And encoding has nothing (much) to do with encryption.

    Ertugrul Soeylemez, Jan 1, 2007
  16. Hello,

    There is an alternative to full disk encryption, providing the same privacy
    level, at no cost: to run a virtual machine whose files are stored in an
    encrypted container.


    - Virtual machine software: Virtual PC (on Windows host machine), VMware and
    Qemu (on Windows and Linux host machines)
    - Guest machines: any X86 machine (DOS, Windows, Linux, FreeBSD...)
    - OTFE encryption software: TrueCrypt (Windows, Linux).

    The whole solution can be done at no cost.

    The guest machine doesn't leak anything; all its files (including temp and
    swap files) are in an encrypted container.

    Backup of the host machine is unchanged, backup of the guest machine is
    simply and securely done by copying the file corresponding to the encrypted
    container on a backup media (i.e. USB mass storage disk).

    Precautions should be taken to transfer data to the guest machine without
    letting "plain" traces on the host machine; for example, a secure ftp client
    connects from the guest machine to a secure ftp server on a LAN; encrypted
    data get through the host TCPIP stack to the guest machine.

    I built such a solution very easily with:
    - host machine: Windows XP,
    - virtual machine software: VMware Player (yes, you can build a guest
    machine with VMware Player, even if VMware says it is not possible; see for
    example http://www.easyvmx.com/easyvmx.shtml; you also need to get VMware
    tools from a VMware test distribution),
    - guest machine: Windows 2000 Professional (with two vmdk disks, one of 4 GB
    for system, one of 5 GB for data),
    - OTFE software: TrueCrypt (one container, 12 GB contains the two vmdk disks
    + vmx configuration file; this lets room for VMware temporary files and for
    enventually copying the ISO image of a CD-ROM to be mounted).

    I think this solution less risky to implement than a full disk encrytption
    one (newsgroups are full of people having done something wrong and unable to
    recover their system). And TrueCrypt is an *OpenSource* software (how could
    you rely on an undisclosed source encryption software)?

    Just some comments about www.full-disk-encryption.net site:

    - In the list of FDE, you could add GBDE and GELI, both FreeBSD modules
    allowing full disk encryption, see
    GBDE and GELI are OpenSource softwares.

    - The site does not mention hardware solutions, for example HP Drivecrypt on
    some notebooks, Trust Way RCI (Bull) or Flagstone disks (Hermitage

    - Your comparative list should indicate which solutions are OpenSource and
    which aren't.

    WinTerMiNator, Jan 2, 2007
  17. Saqib Ali

    Rick Merrill Guest

    Originally true, but the particular CRC pattern is chosen to deal with
    the expected noise impact during transmission (e.g. 1 sec bursts). You
    can use other CRC patterns to encrypt.
    Rick Merrill, Jan 2, 2007
  18. Saqib Ali

    Saqib Ali Guest

    There is an alternative to full disk encryption, providing the same privacy
    All of your suggestion involve quite a bit of overhead, are inelegant
    and require user interaction.

    One of the requirement for this Government project is that the solution
    has to be transparent to the user.

    Saqib Ali, Jan 2, 2007
  19. I really don't know why you relate CRC to encryption in any way. CRC is
    just a checksum algorithm. It's not secure, it's not clever, it's just
    a checksum.

    Ertugrul Soeylemez, Jan 3, 2007
  20. Saqib Ali

    Rick Merrill Guest

    CRC != checksum in any way shape or form. Check with your professor.
    Rick Merrill, Jan 3, 2007
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