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Leonid Baryudin Principal Firmware Architect, Sandforce Dmitry Obukhov Director, SSD Firmware Development Western Digital


Introduction Security Sensors Security Sensors and Data Bands Locking
Tampering Attempt Unsecure Orientation Outside Secure Area Motion Detection

Security Sensors and Data Hijacking Security Sensors as Part of Bigger Security System

In contemporary Storage Security protocols like TCG (Enterprise and Opal) user of a drive must know Credentials (username and password normally) to gain access to certain data. Some Credentials (perhaps of higher Admin level) are also needed to change Credential themselves including modifying default (known to everybody) Manufacturing Credentials the procedure sometimes called Taking Ownership of the Drive as from this moment only those knowing new Credentials can access Drives data.

Introduction (cont.)
This method is reasonably secure but being essentially SW oriented has the following vulnerabilities:
After data band is unlocked it normally stays this way for quite a long time (authentication procedure is rather time consuming and cannot be done too often). During this time intruder can connect to the drive and get access to its data. If intruder happens to know credentials (which is especially easy for freshly manufactured drive which has only default ones), she can do what she wants with drive data even remotely (using malicious software).

Security Sensors
The solution is to equip drives with embedded Security Sensors which will be able to monitor certain Security Conditions (examples are on the following slides) thus providing drive with additional (to Credentials) information controlling access to drives data. If drives conditions reported by some of Security Sensors deemed to be unsecure, certain data bands may not be allowed to be unlocked even if Credentials are correct.

Security Sensors (cont.)

Equally, certain management operations (like changing Credentials) may not be allowed in unsecure conditions. From another side, if drives conditions became unsecure (have been secure before), at least some unlocked data bands can be locked and thus protected from intruder. There should be standard way to configure what conditions are secure and unsecure for access to any particular data band or for performing any management operation. Possible implementation discussed in TCG Storage Control Locking LBA Ranges Feature Set, now under review.

Secure Conditions Examples

The following Secure Conditions are considered important enough to control drive data access.
Tampering Attempt. Unsecure Orientation Outside Secure Area Motion Detection

Tampering Attempt
A Drive can have a physical signal (GPIO, I2C, etc.) connected to a sensor of any type which indicates that an attempt to tamper with Drives contents may be in progress. Couple examples:
Drive could be placed into a secure enclosure, generating a tampering signal each time the secure enclosure is opened - perhaps by somebody trying to connect his laptop in an attempt to impersonate valid host and get access to the drive in an unlocked state. It can be any sort of remote sensor in the building which provides tampering attempt signal if any sort of secure perimeter has been penetrated (doors opened, alarms tripped, etc).

Unsecure Orientation
Data band(s) can be prevented from being unlocked if the drive is in some sort of unnatural position (tilted beyond a certain angle for example) or already unlocked band(s) can be locked if drives position becomes such. Simple accelerometer sensor can detect this. Actual value of unsecure orientation (tilt) angle depends on type of installation what is deemed to be unsecure for a drive installed in the big RAID rack can be perfectly OK for laptop.

Outside Secure Area

Some data bands can be allowed to be unlocked only if the drive is located in some sort of Secure Area (building, site, geographical location, etc.) and should be locked if the drive moves outside this area. There should be a sensor of some sort, verifying this fact, for example:
Some secure signal presence sensor, constantly receiving an encrypted radio signal on a certain frequency which is only available in particular building(s). Same as previous, but radio transmitter is on a person. When this person leaves the drives vicinity (drive itself doesnt move) certain data bands may be locked. GPS device, reporting whether geographical location of the drive is inside or outside predefined secure area.

Motion Detection
Drive is being moved (motion detection sensor is needed) perhaps it is being stolen in an alreadyunlocked state, affected data bands must be locked. Depending on drive usage this condition can vary. Drives installed in server racks must not be moved at all while those in laptops should only lock data bands if dropped on the ground meaning acceleration and/or speed are rather high (precise definitions are beyond the scope of this presentation).

Security Sensors and Data Hijacking

This is a brief description of an invention (patent application pending) which implements protection from so-called Data Hijacking using Security Sensors.
Data Hijacking Scenario Data Hijacking Security Sensors Protection Data Hijacking Security Sensors Use Cases


Data Hijacking Scenario

When a user purchases a device with secure storage on it (Hard Disc Drive, Solid State Drive, network device with internal storage, intelligent appliance, etc) this storage is normally unlocked (secure procedures are not enabled or they are using publicly known default credentials). It is very important that user will take ownership of the storage by enabling secure procedures and/or replacing existing credentials by his/her own private ones as soon as possible and in any rate prior to saving any data on the storage.

Data Hijacking Scenario (cont.)

Otherwise (provided that a device is connected to network some way which is true directly or indirectly for most of devices nowadays) a remote intruder equipped by malicious software may be able not only to read this data but also to do what the lawful user failed to do in the first place enable security procedures and replace default credentials by that of the remote intruder thus taking ownership of the storage contents. From this moment on the lawful user loses an ability to access her own data which thus becomes hijacked by the remote intruder. Despite the fact that the compromised device never left the lawful users physical possession, it is virtually impossible for her to resume control over it except by resetting it to default state and losing all previously stored data which can incur substantial financial and other losses.


Data Hijacking Scenario (cont.)

Alternatively the remote intruder can choose to erase storage contents by using sanitizing or trim procedure which can be done very fast compared to traditional erase. While the entire trouble could be avoided had the lawful user followed the proper procedures by taking ownership of the storage by herself before saving any data on it, it is a fact of life that many wont do so due to lack of training, time, etc... Number of persons and businesses vulnerable to such sort of attack will grow in immediate future as more and more devices with secure storage will reach the market since customer education level is never capable to keep up with the advance of technological innovations.

Data Hijacking Security Sensors Protection

It is suggested to use Security Sensors to prevent remote intruder from taking ownership of the storage or sanitizing/trim any significant part of it only the user having the device in his/her physical possession will be able to do so. Remote intruder still will be able to do some harm and even try to hijack the unprotected data by copying it to his place over network and erasing original contents. However as such a procedure will likely take very long time (compared to taking ownership replacing credentials may be done in milliseconds) it will likely prove to be unpractical at least on the wide scale and there are more chances that such an intrusion will be intercepted by standard antivirus software.

Data Hijacking Security Sensors Protection (cont.)

Depending on type of device, its geometry, location and even usage patterns on particular market there are multiple embodiments of the method suggested by this invention, generally having the following elements:
In various embodiments, it is some sort of Security Sensor, such as a switch, which can be activated only intentionally by a person who has physical access to the device. Activation of the switch (or equivalent) raises a signal to the devices controller indicating that certain security procedures (like taking ownership) become possible which are forbidden otherwise. There could be additional switches or jumpers, configuring what security procedures are affected by the main switch (or some combination of switches, such as one switch per feature).

Data Hijacking Security Sensors Use Cases

Reed switch can be installed inside device and it will be activated by applying a magnet to a certain location on the device. This option is especially suitable for laptop disk drives where device itself (disk) is hidden in the laptop case but the enclosure walls are rather thin and made of plastic and therefore its easy to guess location of any spot on the drive with reasonable precision and magnetic field of a small magnet can easy penetrate to the reed switch. For routers and network appliances in general its common to have factory reset switch in a deep hole where it can be accessed by long pin or needle. There can be a second switch of such sort or an existing one can be used with different application pattern (say, 3 short pushes instead of 1 long). As an advanced version of the previous approach for less price sensitive but security concerned markets the switch can have form of key hole of rather intricate form which requires a unique physical key to be applied. Such keys shall be sold with devices or even sent later for additional price when customer decides he/she needs security. In big organization keys can be collected and stored in a central place allowing only to certain people take ownership over storage.

Data Hijacking Security Sensors Use Cases (cont.)

In some environments, such as extremely distributed systems where physical access is a problem, the switch could be some sort of wireless device managed remotely (from short or long distance depending on application) via protected channels. The device might include a physically secure connection, such as a management network coupling multiple devices (I2C, Ethernet), and this physically secure connection is usable to perform and/or to enable (optionally for a finite time period) certain commands or procedures on the normal host interface.

Thank You!