Encryption Cracked on Certified USB Drives

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Just a warning out there to those who use SanDisk, Verbatim, or Kingston USB flash drives and take advantage of their encryption to secure your files that these are easily cracked due to an extremely dim-witted move: the same decryption string is provided when accessing encrypted files no matter what your password is. Meaning, you just have to bypass their authentication program and send this string, which is even the same string on all three of the brands listed at the beginning of this article. Yeesh! Remember folks, these are the same drives that are certified by NIST as FIPS 140-2 Level 2 (PDF) and are used by the American Armed Forces and the US government (for unclassified data).


Security expert firm SySS (click here for english link) has created a demo program that can access encrypted files within seconds. You can access their press release and papers here.


Read more to see the recalls and security notes from the three flash drive makers...

Depending on which manufacturer built your drive select the appropriate link:

Tag: encryption sandisk verbatim kingston usb flash drives nist what were they thinking

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A friend brought up to me that Bruce Schneier posted on his blog a follow-up to the question on how such a device could still be considered certified by NIST with such a glaring flaw.


Partial Quote:

The problem is that no one really understands what a FIPS 140-2 certification means. Instead, they think something like: "This crypto thingy is certified, so it must be secure." In fact, FIPS 104-2 Level 2 certification only means that certain good algorithms are used, and that there is some level of tamper resistance and tamper evidence. Marketing departments of security take advantage of this confusion -- it's not only FIPS 140, it's all the security standards -- and encourage their customers to equate conformance to the standard with security.


It's an interesting thought and gives a glimpse into some of the issues with marketing vs. truth. Yeah, the devices passed based on the algorithm used to encrypt the data, but the implementation failed miserably.

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