Businesses warned over a new breed of BitLocker attacks

Malicious actors can physically breach target devices by hardwiring equipment into the motherboard

Motherboard

Devices protected using Microsoft BitLocker can be physically breached in a new form of attack that involves extracting the encryption keys from a computer's Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip.

By hardwiring equipment into a computer's motherboard, namely the TPM chip, attackers would be primed to access any sensitive corporate information stored on encrypted hard drives. This breed of attack requires an attacker to be in close physical proximity to the target and leads to the device in question being destroyed.

A security researcher from Pulse Security Denis Andzakovic outlined the method in a post published yesterday, including how he would wire up equipment to a target device, and interpret the information he intercepts.

TPM chips are a form of crypto-processor designed to carry out cryptographic operations. It's a form of secure encryption deployed to protect highly sensitive information. The most common functions are used for system integrity, and for key creation and usage.

But Andzakovic's work has demonstrated how BitLocker encryption keys can be extracted from both 1.2 and 2.0 TPM chips can be using source code and a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) board.

"Enabling BitLocker with a TPM+PIN protector should mitigate this vulnerability, however, users will be required to enter a PIN at boot," he wrote.

"Smart cards or USB keys used as an additional pre-boot authentication in addition to the TPM should mitigate this issue as well. I'd need to take a closer look at the different protector modes to be able to say for certain, maybe some future work."

The researcher first demonstrated the attack on a 1.2 TPM chip, beginning with soldering on seven wires to the chip, with the aim of intercepting its low pin count (LPC) bus. He then used a logic analyser to pick up on the LP messages and decoded them to extract the volume master key (VMK). This key encrypts the full volume encryption key (FVEK), which itself encrypts the data locked away on BitLocker drives.

He then demonstrated the attack on 2.0 TPM chip embedded in his own Surface Pro 3.

After passing the details of the attack to Microsoft's security response centre, Andzakovic said he was advised to apply an additional form of pre-boot authentication to mitigate the potential for this attack.

Featured Resources

Five lessons learned from the pivot to a distributed workforce

Delivering continuity and scale with a remote work strategy

Download now

Connected experiences in a digital transformation

Enable businesses to meet the demands of the future

Download now

Simplify to secure

Reduce complexity by integrating your security ecosystem

Download now

Enhance the safety and security of your people, assets and operations

Enable a true vision of security with an engineered solution based on hyperconverged and storage platforms

Download now

Recommended

'Largest ever' Magecart hack compromises 2,000 online stores
hacking

'Largest ever' Magecart hack compromises 2,000 online stores

15 Sep 2020
Infocyte integrates with Palo Alto Networks Cortex XSOAR
cyber security

Infocyte integrates with Palo Alto Networks Cortex XSOAR

19 Aug 2020
Andrew Daniels joins Druva as CIO and CISO
Cloud

Andrew Daniels joins Druva as CIO and CISO

22 Jul 2020
University of California gets fleeced by hackers for $1.14 million
ransomware

University of California gets fleeced by hackers for $1.14 million

30 Jun 2020

Most Popular

Google Pixel 4a review: A picture-perfect package
Google Android

Google Pixel 4a review: A picture-perfect package

18 Sep 2020
Accenture ploughs $3 billion into cloud migration support group
digital transformation

Accenture ploughs $3 billion into cloud migration support group

17 Sep 2020
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

16 Sep 2020