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Windows passwords easily bypassed over Firewire

Nilay Patel
03.04.08
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All of the sudden we're starting to see more and more attacks take advantage of what's stored on your computer's RAM -- the latest, from New Zealand's Adam Boileau, allows an attacker to unlock Windows passwords in a just a few seconds using a Linux machine connected over Firewire. Unlike those disk encryption attacks we saw that required a reboot, Boileu's attack works while the target computer is running, tricking Windows into allowing full write access to RAM and then corrupting the password protection code. That's a little scary -- but other researchers say that it's not a traditional vulnerability, since direct memory access is a feature of Firewire. Still, we're sealing up all of our ports with Silly Putty starting today, that ought to stop 'em.

Update:
Apparently this has been demonstrated on OS X as well -- it looks like Firewire's direct memory access is the common vector here.

[Thanks, Drew]