Windows Vista’s Full Volume Encryption & TPM, part 6: more oddball TPM 1.2 links

Semi-random links to information I’ve used as reference for some of my rambling thoughts…

Whew! Now back to your regularly scheduled surfing.

Recent Articles on Data Security

Summaries and comments on some [not-so-] recent articles that caught my attention…

It’s Audit Time. Do You Know Where Your Private Data Is?

  • data encryption is becoming more commonplace, especially on mobile devices
  • “full disk encryption” is fashionable, but the security of that encrypted data depends heavily on key management and authentication
  • A little more user education on “physical security” can help avoid the risks for which encryption is layered on thick and gooey
  • “California’s Office of Privacy Protection issued a clarification [of CSB 1386] that defined encryption as AES, the government’s official encryption system.”

Commentary: I’m in full agreement that “full disk encryption” is the easy answer to multiple regulatory burdens, and that key management (i.e. being able to recover lost or damaged keys – to be able to recover the data) and authentication (i.e. strength of the authentication that stands between the keyboard and the decryption keys) are vital.

If you encrypt your whole disk but have no way of recovering if the disk sector [or TPM storage location] where the keys are stored is damaged/erased, then chances are you’ll lose legitimate access to the data more often (user frustration) than you’ll grant illegitimate access to the data (data exposure).

Sure, the AES clarification in California isn’t legally binding, but any organization that ignores this now (especially with wide availability of AES encryption technologies – e.g. RMS, EFS in Windows XP SP1, PGP, Pointsec) would be more than foolish – in my mind, they’d be deliberately negligent [obligatory “IANAL” hereby stated].

[Note: the article is incorrect about which versions of Windows support AES in EFS – EFS uses the AES algorithm only in Windows XP, and AES is the default only at SP1 and later.]

Study: ID Theft from Data Breaches Rare

  • Press release regurgitation: analysis and findings from a vendor of risk management technology

Commentary: in the “department of duh” category, not all security breaches involving identity data (credit cards, passwords, social security numbers, account numbers) resulted in massive identity theft.

US moves forward on data privacy

  • Proposed Federal law not only mandates data privacy and security – but also requires oversight of outside organizations you pay to handle/manage/process that data
  • Mandatory notification is required as well
  • Penalties for non-compliance include significant fines and possible jail time for willful disregard
  • Also mentions two additional pieces of legislation cooking: the “Identity Theft Protection Act” & the “Data Accountability and Trust Act”

Commentary: about freakin’ time.

Bonus article!!
Q&A: ETrade CIO calls token-based authentication a success,10801,106305,00.html?source=NLT_PM&nid=106305

Commentary: “success” is measured in the interviewee’s first answer: customers who have adopted the SecurID token for access to their ETrade accounts “are therefore willing to move more assets to us.” Security is not useful if it doesn’t positively affect the core business.

Do you have more interest in strong authentication issues? Hit the site

Windows Vista FVE in the news

The enterprise edition of Vista will have a feature called “BitLocker” that can encrypt systems that have an optional security chip.

The feature debuted Monday on a test version of Vista that Microsoft released to get feedback from software developers and customers.

“So essentially if a machine is lost … it renders it useless to whoever steals it or takes it from them,” said Shanen Boettcher, a senior director in the Windows group.

Commentary: This further supports the idea that FVE will only be available to those customers who license the Enterprise edition of Windows Vista. Will this be available to the consumer? I would suspect not, based on Microsoft’s history and its planned set of SKU’s:

  • the Enterprise editions of Windows (2000, 2003) in the past haven’t shown up on the shelves of retail stores
  • What with plans for SKUs such as Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate – all presumably oriented for the consumer market – I personally doubt there’ll be room in the OEM lineups for a fourth SKU directed at their consumer market.
  • Previous rumours indicated that the Vista Enterprise edition will only be available to Microsoft customers who have signed up for (the not inexpensive) Software Assurance plan, which is definitely not something consumers (or even small/medium-sized businesses) can usually afford.

However, I feel obligated to point out that the (obviously out-of-context) quote from Shanen Boettcher seems pretty misleading/overreaching in its current form. If I’m interpreting correctly, the “BitLocker” feature is nothing more than Secure Startup (SSU)/Full Volume Encryption (FVE).

While SSU does make it more difficult to discover on-disk secrets and sensitive data files, its mere presence or default configuration hardly makes the machine or its data “useless to whoever steals it”. So long as the disk contents remain undisturbed, the simple configuration of SSU will allow Windows to boot up and allow an attacker to attempt to access its data (e.g. via console logon, network logon, shares access, unpatched vulnerabilities, previously-installed malware, or other as-yet-unimagined attack techniques).

Seems it’s time to discuss the Full Volume Encryption technical whitepaper that’s available for download – make sure we’re all understanding it the same way (or not), and raise the obvious questions worth asking.

I’ve UnDeparted from Microsoft

I’m back, baby!

Due to my recent un-departure from Microsoft, I am now employed again full time, and so far I’m loving the new job!

I’ve willingly rejoined the Borg as a Technical Program Manager on the MSSC (Microsoft Solutions for Security and Compliance) team. I’m once again on campus in Redmond, but this time (cf. my previous career as a member of MCS) I’m not relegated to one of the “satellite” buildings; rather I’m stationed (with the rest of the team) in Building 18 – right on main campus!

The past eight months away from Microsoft has been one amazing vacation, disconnecting from the non-stop email, the petty politics and my growing unease with how little I felt I’d accomplished in five years there. I spent much of that time playing with the dogs (a good thing), getting to know my wife (a very good thing) and teaching myself firsthand that I can survive post-Microsoft. Hopefully I’ve cleared out many of my demons, my fears and my old habits – on to a new and revitalized career.

What will I be doing as a TPM? Well, the MSSC team makes it their mission to develop and deliver “solutions for security” – sometimes humungo series of papers/recommendations/technical knowledge, sometimes focused white papers, sometimes “push-button” apps that solve problems outside the scope of traditional product development. Based on my expertise in data security (& peripherally around data protection), I expect to be contributing to security solutions that help Microsoft’s customers’ data more secure. I don’t know exactly what this means, but I know that it’ll involve a lot of technical depth in technologies like EFS, RMS and Vista’s Secure Startup/Full Volume Encryption. [I’ve only been on board for a couple of weeks, so beyond that only time will tell.]

Anyone out there with any gripes, concerns or ideas for improvement in these and related technologies? You’re more than welcome to drop me a line and I’ll see if I can’t carve out some time to hear you out. With any luck, in my new position, I’ll be able to get good ideas directly into the ears of those who develop those products. How’s that for service? I dare you to suggest something radical to me. 🙂

[Note: this means that from here on, and of course for all posts up to this point, my one nod to the corporate machine is to state for the record that everything I write here is the result of my own personal opinions and cannot be construed as the “official Microsoft stance” on anything, nor can my ramblings be ascribed to my employer in any form or fashion. Everything here should be taken “as-is” (although certainly I believe there’s merit in my leavings), and YMMV. Now go forth and enjoy it!]

Windows OneCare + VPN connections: manual configuration, with no warning?

I thought I was going nuts I tell ya. I’d been a Microsoft VPN end-user for years, and had even administered an MS VPN infrastructure back in the dark ages of NT4. I’d used the MS VPN client (aka “Connection Manager”) in all kinds of network environments and under the whole spectrum of security conditions, and I’d never been denied like I was denied this weekend.

Blame it on Windows OneCare I say – no, wait, that’s not fair – can’t blame it on a beta product. Heck, I guess it was my own fault for putting a beta product in production, eh? Live and learn. Hopefully this tale will help you avoid the same hair-pulling foolishness.

So: Windows XP Professional SP2, Toshiba Tecra M2 notebook, MN-700 802.11b/g wireless router, Comcast broadband service. I’d configured the MS VPN client connectoid for default settings, filled in the appropriate authentication details, and couldn’t complete the connection. The client would connect to the VPN server, and would count approx. 33 seconds while attempting to authenticate my credentials, and just kicked me out.

According to all the googl’ing I did, all suggested solutions revolved around configuring port forwarding on my wireless router. I hadn’t had to configure the router’s network settings for a year or so, and I’d had to reset the firmware once this summer, so while I didn’t think this was the problem, I certainly wasn’t sure. I certainly did know for sure that the Windows XP SP2 firewall would allow any outbound communications, and would allow back any responses to requests initiated from the computer, so I really didn’t think about it any further.

I diddled with the router’s configuration a few different ways:

  • I tried to find the setting in the Connection Manager software that would allow me to override the automatic protocol selection, but despite my best efforts, it’s been well-hidden by the good folks in our IT department who setup this well-designed end-user configuration.
  • I forwarded 1723/tcp, 1723/udp, 1721/tcp, 1721/udp, thinking each time I added one, “Well maybe I’ve just forgotten my protocol settings – I’ll just try one more”.
  • I forwarded 500/udp, since one article reminded me that IPSec NAT-T (NAT Traversal) worked over 500/udp.I used dynamic forwarding; I used persistent forwarding (I ifgured dynamic was sufficient, since the router would detect my requests, but after that failed I figured persistent *had* to work. Nope.)
  • I finally configure the virtual DMZ to point to my computer’s IP address. I’d avoided it to this point since it would remove most protections the router afforded from my PC, but at this point I was getting desparate.

No dice. That’s when I finally gave in, and despite my better judgment (I’d NEVER had to do this before), disconnected the wireless router and connected the computer directly to the broadband “modem”. When I couldn’t make the connection even then, I knew the problem wasn’t with the port forwarding…

I finally had another look at the Windows Firewall configuration, and this time I really wondered why it continually reported that the firewall was “Off”, even though it also said that “For your security, some settings are controlled by Group Policy”. Did our IT group really disable the Windows Firewall on us through GPO? If so, what was it they were using to secure our systems? I knew I hadn’t installed any third party firewall like BlackIce… [oh hell. That’s right.]

That’s when it finally dawned on me to dig into the Windows OneCare software. Now, when I look at the client, there’s nothing that jumps out at me related to Windows Firewall – the three main blocks of reported info in the main window are “Protection Plus”, “Performance Plus” and “Backup and Restore”. Buried in the middle of the Protection Plus category is a single line simply labelled “Firewall: Auto”, which had until now escaped my attention.

I engaged my brain and chose the “View or change settings” selection, then grabbed the Firewall tab and hit the “Advanced settings…” button. While you can choose either “Program List” or “Ports and Protocols” to enable new exceptions in the OneCare firewall, I knew that there was no typical executable that uniquely identifies the VPN client connectoid, and thus it’d be difficult to nail down an .exe to add to the “Program List”.

Turning to the “Ports and Protocols” list, I finally had a stroke of luck. There appears to be a default configuration already set up for the “GRE” protocol – IP protocol 47, the control channel used by PPTP. I simply added another exception that I named “PPTP”: Protocol TCP, Port range 1723 to 1723, and retried the VPN client.

Of course it went through immediately.

I assume this’ll help any of those of you who are also running the beta of Windows OneCare Live, but I hope this’ll be made easier for folks by the time this releases. I’ll file a bug on this and see if the OneCare Live folks can’t help automate this somehow – if I got tripped up by it, I’m sure there must be others who’ll also be stumped.

Epilogue: I haven’t bothered to check which of the router configurations are still necessary once the OneCare firewall was properly configured. It may be that the DMZ setting is still needed, or perhaps the MN-700 actually does tranparently forward MS VPN traffic correctly (as I’d originally expected). Let’s leave that as an exercise for the class, shall we? Until next time…

[category: general security]

Windows Vista’s Full Volume Encryption & TPM part 5: does FVE require a TPM or not?

Tonight I stumbled on a rant that quoted a Microsoft web site around various Vista features including Full Volume Encryption (FVE). The stunning thing for me was the following quote (emphasis mine):

“Windows Vista supports full-volume encryption to prevent disk access to files by other operating systems. It also stores encryption keys in a Trusted Platform Model (TPM) v1.2 chip. The entire system partition is encrypted-both the hibernation file and the user data. It also stores encryption keys in a Trusted Platform Model (TPM) v1.2 chip, if one is available on the PC.”

Did I read that right? Does this mean that FVE can actually encrypt the entire system partition whether there’s a TPM 1.2 chip on the system or not? Presumably if this is true, the key to encrypt the volume is stored in the 50 MB partition that is required to store the pre-boot partition that supports FVE. That is, the key is stored in software.

So how does this improve upon what’s available in Windows XP? Frankly I don’t know right now, but I can take a couple of educated guesses. Presumably the Secure Startup sequence requires a user-supplied password before it can decrypt the Vista system partition, so this means there’s yet another password for an attacker to have to brute-force.

However, I gotta wonder whether a software-based Secure Startup boot password is any different from a SYSKEY boot password – no complexity requirements, never needs to be changed, and impossible to manage [pretty much by design] over a large population – how do you archive and recover such a boot password? If so, then this is a just as dangerous/difficult to manage a security control as SYSKEY is.

OK, so I got excited there for a sec, but on further reflection, maybe this isn’t any better than we had before. In fact, it’s even scarier: what if I forgot my Secure Startup boot password, and its encryption key was stored in software? What do I do then? Presumably ALL my data is encrypted with that key (now irretrievable); whereas with SYSKEY I lost the OS but presumably could recover my data, now I’ve lost both the OS and my data. Ugh, sounds pretty gross to me.

I think I read about some capability to archive the encryption key used by Full Volume Encryption, but I’ll have to dig around to confirm (a) if it’s true, and (b) how it works. Until then, consider this entire sub-rant one man’s opinion, no more.

TPM 1.2 hardware news: integrated chipset launched for AMD K8 systems

Note that ULi had desktop motherboard vendors lined up at the launch event, but not PC system OEMs for desktops or notebooks. Between this and the fact that the chipset is aimed at AMD (not Intel, which still appears to be the CPU vendor used most of the time by most OEMs) I don’t believe this will have a major impact on the business market. However, it’ll definitely help get the next-gen TPM hardware into the hands of many consumers and small organizations.

That’s just a good thing, no matter whether the TPM technology helps secure PCs via Linux, Windows-based third-party TSS apps or via the Windows Vista Secure Startup feature. Personally I’m just happy to see increased uptake of the TPM hardware by PC technology vendors.

Categories TPM

Digital Cameras being called a "hacker tool" now?

This article focuses on the use of the camera as a “digital storage device”, as if the fact that the camera is somehow a “more surreptitious” way to copy data off the computer than any other USB & similar storage device (flash drive/thumb drive/memory stick/MMC/SD card).

I really hope that the author of the article was the only one surprised by this “unexpected” use of a digital camera as a way to slurp data off a computer. I also hope that we don’t see a wave of specific “no digital cameras allowed” security policies spring up in response to this. I would think any reasonably well thought out security policy would either (a) forbid the use of all portable storage devices, or (b) accept the risk of any and all such devices equally (since they all have the potential of being used maliciously).

I really thought I misread the title of the article – I had to read it three times to make sure I wasn’t the one with the big misunderstanding.

I figured they must be talking about the use of digital cameras to take pictures of the screen (a totally unpreventable vector), or they were talking about camera-enabled cell phones (which at least are more difficult to separate from “legitimate use” than a simple camera).

Big deal.

So you can use yet another bulky USB-enabled device to copy data from a computer and take it off-premises. If there’s ANY organization left out there that still hasn’t thought through the threat of the use of portable storage media to copy large quantities of data off-premises, I doubt they’re going to finally say “oh crap!” when they read this.

It’s far cheaper and easier to hide from prying eyes the use of a tiny little USB drive (most as small a digit on your hand) – far less likely to draw attention than plugging in a fist- (or larger) sized camera into a work computer.

To steal a phrase from Bruce Schneier, this is yet another example of a “movie plot threat” that has little relation to any reasonable assessment of overall security risk to most any organization.

[category: general security]

Dell licensed TSS from Wave Systems – soon shipping TPM-enabled notebooks?

Not often we get a public hint of upcoming release plans from the computer vendors like this, but it looks like Dell has made a stronger commitment to the TPM wave that is catching fire with most major computer vendors.

Dell has added TPM chips to a couple of desktops, but has consipicuously been missing anything on their portables. I’m hoping we’ll see a notebook (and maybe a Tablet?) come out from Dell real soon now that has a TPM chip. Even better, since Dell has delayed all this time, perhaps they’ve been holding out for a production-ready TPM 1.2 chip…?

Gateway stole a leadership position from Dell by releasing their 14″ widescreen Tablet before Dell had a chance to reach that market. Of interest to me was their forward-thinking inclusion of a TPM 1.2 chip as well. Let’s hope Dell is readying a catch-up response to this, and that they’ll blow us away with TPM 1.2 chips across all their new systems from here on out!

Categories TPM

Windows Vista’s Full Volume Encryption & TPM, part 4: available PCs that include TPM 1.2 chip

[Edit: corrected the Broadcom adapter model #, and removed the listing for the Dell Precision 380 Workstation, which turns out to only have a TPM 1.1b chip via the Broadcom BCM5751 chip.]

Since I only talked about Tablet PCs in part 2, I figure I owe it to the community to collect together a listing of any and all shipping PCs that include a v1.2 TPM chip.

What follows are all Servers, desktops, notebooks and Tablets that I could confirm currently include a TPM 1.2 chip:

none to date

Desktops & Workstations
Dell Optiplex GX620
Gateway FX400XL (via Broadcom NIC referenced here)
Gateway FX400S (via Broadcom NIC referenced here)
Gateway FX400X (via Broadcom NIC referenced here)
Gateway E-6500D SB (via Broadcom NIC referenced here)
HP Compaq Business Desktop DC7600 (via Broadcom NIC)
Vector GZ desktop

Gateway M250 Series
Gateway M460 Series
Gateway M680 Series

** HP TC4200 [THEORY: the TPM is an orderable part (Part #383545-001, $42.00 list price), which implies that it’s a removable/replaceable part (and thus that a TPM 1.2 chip could be swapped in later), but this is only an unconfirmed theory on my part] **

Gateway M280 Series

Bonus 1: Add-on Components
Broadcom BCM5752 & BCM5752M network controller chips (which has an integrated TPM 1.2 chip)

Bonus 2: Linux drivers
Linux driver with support for Infineon’s TPM v1.2 chip

And again, don’t forget to check Tony McFadden’s TPM Matrix. NOTE: I only used Tony’s TPM Matrix to start my search – I haven’t copied any entries without external confirmation, so there may be disagreements between our pages. When in doubt, remember that unless I could confirm a TPM 1.2 chip was included in a PC system, I did not list that system here. Tony’s page is meant to be more comprehensive, so he lists both PC systems with TPM 1.1 chips as well as those with unknown chips or which haven’t been confirmed to include a TPM chip.

P.S. Do you know of any other PC systems shipping a TPM 1.2 chip? If so, add your comment below!

P.P.S. What have I learned in my searches for TPM 1.2-integrated PC systems? Here’s a couple of tips that may be helpful if and when you off on your own search:

  1. If the spec sheet only mentions non-version-specific phrases such as “TPM chip”, “TPM Embedded Security Chip” or “the TCG standard” [emphasis mine], you can and should assume that the chip is a TPM 1.1 chip. Anytime I was able to confirm a TPM 1.2 chip, the PC system vendor made specific and repeated mention of the 1.2 version number. [Apparently this is a big differentiator, though few if any references on the Internet have clarified why.]
  2. If you are looking into a PC that was shipped before Summer 2005, you can rest assured that it did NOT ship with a TPM 1.2 chip, since the TPM chip vendors didn’t have production chips on the market until at least mid-summer of 2005.