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ElcomSoft Tool Cracks BitLocker, PGP, TrueCrypt In Real-Time

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @02:53PM (#42350845)

    Yeah, this is really just exploiting retarded key control. The encryption standards themselves are still secure

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      Yeah, this is really just exploiting retarded key control.

      I dunno, I've let my laptop go into hibernate with a TrueCrypt volume mounted. It's "retarded" but that doesn't mean it doesn't work.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:27PM (#42351391)

        It's still a key control problem.

        If Windows notifies programs about suspends/shutdowns (not sure it really does), TrueCrypt needs to dismount immediately and do whatever it needs to do to protect its key.

        None of these processes attack the encryption directly, just control of its keys. Of course, that still means data disclosure, but rather than meaning P=NP or some other news, it simply means that keys are being poorly protected by the software, which in the case of hibernation can hopefully be fixed.

        Firewire doesn't matter...it's equivalent to a malicious PCI device, without (as far as I know) the possible protection of VT-d. Epoxy or X-acto. If you can read the system's memory space, you can do a *WHOLE* lot more than just recovering the key...the data itself is likely in there while being read or even the entire unencrypted volume if it's memory mapped. Let alone kernel memory etc. So that is not news really.

        • by icebike (68054) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:53PM (#42351715)

          Exactly: They aren't breaking encryption, they are simply surfing for keys.

          Quote TFA:

          So, how does it work? Elcomsoft Forensic Disk Decryptor acquires the necessary decryption keys by analyzing memory dumps and/or hibernation files obtained from the target PC. You’ll thus need to get a memory dump from a running PC (locked or unlocked) with encrypted volumes mounted, via a standard forensic product or via a FireWire attack. Alternatively, decryption keys can also be derived from hibernation files if a target PC is turned off.

          Note the basic misunderstanding embedded in that last sentence: Turned off != Hibernated.

          While this tool might help you break into a computer you found hibernated, or running while locked, it won't do any good if the power cord is yanked, or the encryption software was intelligently written to only store its key an some volatile memory.

          • by chis101 (754167)

            Note the basic misunderstanding embedded in that last sentence: Turned off != Hibernated.

            While this tool might help you break into a computer you found hibernated, or running while locked, it won't do any good if the power cord is yanked, or the encryption software was intelligently written to only store its key an some volatile memory.

            I'm pretty sure that modern hibernate simply stores necessary information from RAM into a file on disk, and shuts off the computer. Then, on boot, it checks if this file exists, and if so attempts to resume from it. So, there is no difference between "off" and "hibernating." The boot sequence will just check if there is a file to resume from.

            So, you still need to find a computer that has the volume mounted (either running, in 'sleep' mode with power still being supplied, or from a hibernate file on the di

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @04:05PM (#42351849)

            In Windows the hibernation file is never deleted (I assume to keep enough HDD space reserved). In fact, many systems automatically hibernate after they've been suspended for a certain period of time. I don't know how Linux hibernation works. You might have the key sitting in the hibernation file from weeks ago.

            • by gmueckl (950314) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @06:46PM (#42353405)

              Hibernation in Linux uses a swap partition. So depending on the size and usage of the swap space the key may be overwritten almost instantly or sit in swap space for eternity.

          • by Synerg1y (2169962)
            Almost... but not quite, memory retains data for a while after the PC is powered off creating some interesting situations if the feds are banging on your door :)

            Also, this is by far not the first tool of it's kind to steal keys out of various mem locations, $300 isn't a bank breaker though like some of the other tools in the biz are, or law enforcement only type stuff. I'm sure if you look hard enough, you can find free programs esp. on the linux side of the wall that can do this.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @04:15PM (#42351977)

            hiberfil.sys is not scrubbed or deleted after resuming from hibernation, therefore it will persist after a subsequent shutdown. So if the hibernation feature was used while an encrypted filesystem was mounted, the keys will remain in it.

            • by mrbester (200927)

              Windows deletes a hiberfil.sys if found after a shutdown (or a restart if updates require it) but only by the wiping of the allocation table entry. The contents are usually still on disk as the file tends to be placed at the end of the drive so it is possible that the sectors can be analysed.

            • by wierd_w (1375923)

              Make sense.

              then again, hibernation is epic fail from a security POV anyway. This is just another reason to disable hibernation if security is the objective.

              (Personally, I would use a knoppix live DVD with a dual ISOLINUX entry to also load memtest. Feds bang on the door, restart -now that bitch, then pop into memtest. Let them freeze that memory and get something out after running the random write/read test on it!)

            • by icebike (68054) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @05:02PM (#42352463)

              But if you are worried about this, you simply run after awakening from hybernation mode:
              POWERCFG -H OFF
              POWERCFG -H ON

              That turns off hibernation, which deletes hiberfil.sys then enables hibernation which will allow its recreation.

        • by _Shad0w_ (127912) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:53PM (#42351717)

          You can register an interest in knowing about power events by calling RegisterPowerSettingNotification(); your application then gets sent the WM_POWERBROADCAST message when the the power setting changes, that includes suspending the system (PBT_APMSUSPEND). You get about two seconds to actually do something with this information.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      The problem is the key control isn't all that retarded. Re-entering your password every time a disk block is read from disk isn't too appealing.
      • by icebike (68054)

        But holding it in volatile memory, and entering it once upon boot up is not all that bad. There are a lot of ways this can be done such that the private key never need be stored on the disk in unencrypted form.

        • by Tawnos (1030370) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @04:01PM (#42351807)

          Freeze the ram, remove, reinsert into a device to dump the RAM's contents. It's been done before: http://zedomax.com/blog/2008/09/29/memory-hack-how-to-hack-encryption-keys-by-freezing-memory/ [zedomax.com]

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@woCURIErld3.net minus physicist> on Thursday December 20, 2012 @05:53PM (#42352959) Homepage

            Doesn't work with BitLocker and a TPM chip. The key is kept in protected memory on the chip and only authenticated code can use it. It was specifically designed to defeat attackers with full access to the contents of RAM, including rootkits and the like.

            Shame TrueCrypt doesn't support TPM as well.

            • by Eric Smith (4379) <<moc.ahahuorb> <ta> <cire>> on Thursday December 20, 2012 @07:02PM (#42353565) Homepage Journal

              Doesn't work with BitLocker and a TPM chip. The key is kept in protected memory on the chip and only authenticated code can use it.

              I don't think that's true. The passphrase (perhaps hashed?) pay only be in the TPM chip, but the actual cryto key used to decrypt disk sectors is in main memory, because the main CPU is used to do the decryption. There's nowhere near enough bandwidth to and from the TPM chip to let it do the actual disk encryption/decryption. There's not even enough bandwidth to ask the TPM for the key each time you want to do a disk transfer, and erase it from memory after the disk transfer is completed.

              This means that software that extracts the encryption key from memory probably can't turn it back into the passphrase that the user enters, but if you have a copy of the disk and the key, you don't actually need that passphrase.

              The TPM is not a high-performance device and doesn't do anything but give out the keys on (authenticated) request. What the software does with those keys is up to the software. If someone has privileged or physical access to the machine while the keys are in use, all bets are off.

        • by Synerg1y (2169962)
          on hibernation, pretty sure memory and everything else shuts down, the hibernate file saves the state to reload into mem on power up, I'm curious, why don't you name some of these "a lot of ways", cause I can't think of any, besides truecrypt removing the feature and making you re-enter your password on power up from hibernation, I wonder if there's an option somewhere in there to already do so, but not feeling like checking atm.
          • by wierd_w (1375923)

            By not storing the plaintext key in memory, but instead storing an encoded form. Eg, dynamically create a computation that produces the key, and storing that. (Easily defeated as well, but it's still a way to frustrate fishing attempts like this. Introduce some random and unnecessary feature to the computation as well, and structure it to look like some other decryption algo as cammoflauge. At this level, it would require human operators manually inspecting the hibernation file to gleen how the key is bein

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)
      I'd argue it's how the user configures it to behave (besides the mem part, that's always been a weak point, but the attacker has to have physical access to the computer, so ya...). You can set your computer to not hibernate & you can even set up a trusted external devices policy to only accept those it recognizes, but that's only for truly paranoid. And as I've said before, there's nothing revolutionary going on here, these types of attacks have been available forever and require physical access.
    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @04:53PM (#42352331)
      Others have mentioned that it does not attack the actual encryption, but they did not summarize what it does do:

      This only works if the encrypted item (drive or file) is in a mounted state at the time of "attack". And that applies if it is in a mounted state when the machine goes into hibernation. It gathers the encryption key from memory (or resume file if hibernating), it does not even try to "break" the encryption.

      Still, it must be said that this is a clever approach, and could be a nice tool in some (very limited) circumstances.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @02:53PM (#42350861)

    ...just a hammer.

    Obligatory: http://xkcd.com/538/

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @02:54PM (#42350883)

    It reads the encryption key from memory.

    • by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:13PM (#42351185)

      What did you expect it to do? Magic?

      • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:18PM (#42351275) Homepage Journal
        I, for one, expected a pagan ritual involving Cthulhu; Natalie Portman, naked and petrified and covered in hot grits; and a traveling salesman walk of all your base.
        • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday December 20, 2012 @04:02PM (#42351827)

          My father was a pagan, you insensitive clod!

        • by wierd_w (1375923)

          Cthulu?

          Don't be silly! Clearly you didn't actually graduate from Miskatonic U.

          All the 300 level students know that Yog Sothoth holds all the keys!

          Honestly.....

      • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:20PM (#42351315)
        Yeah, I would consider the ability to crack hard-encryption in a reasonable amount of time and processing power as a good definition for "magic". I'm under the impression that such a feat is mathmatically impossible. At least as far as we know. And the summary lead me to believe that they had somehow found a flaw in the underlying encryption scheme.
        • by blueg3 (192743)

          That would, in fact, basically be magic. Which is why it's always likely that an article that says some encryption "is cracked" usually has some big caveats. Or they're actually talking about something that is not, in fact, "cracked" at all.

      • by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:29PM (#42351417) Homepage Journal

        The first thing you think about "PGP encryption cracked" is that a random .pgp file that you got isolated somehow (i.e. intercepting a mail with it attached) could be cracked and decrypted in minutes, no extra hardware required.

        But this goes to the RAM of the computer where still resides somehow the passphrase to decrypt the file. Is a bit more serious, but not so much different than claiming that you cracked pgp encryption because you had a keylogger installed.

        • by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:46PM (#42351647)

          Security articles pretty much always dramatically overstate what they are capable of. Generally "cracked" gets used any time something is decrypted and the person who encrypted it didn't intend for it to be.

          It sounds like it should be super easy, since the encryption key is "just sitting in memory", but it's not. A lot of those programs actively take steps to try to prevent the key from being captured from memory. Elcomsoft is by no means the first person to demonstrate this attack, but they like to aggressively promote whenever they make tools for applying techniques that researchers have already developed.

      • by spazdor (902907)

        I was expecting anything which is properly referred to as a "crack" which is what TFS called it.

        A known-key attack is not a "crack", it's just a "decrypt."

        • by blueg3 (192743)

          This isn't a known-key attack. You start off with a large set of data that you know to contain the key.

          Also, Elcomsoft likes calling everything "cracking". Pretty much anything that is not simply using the original software with the regular password or key is "cracking".

      • by jopsen (885607)

        What did you expect it to do? Magic?

        Well, you never know what santa is up to :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @02:55PM (#42350889)

    It requires a memory dump of the system where the keys are used. Bad submitter. Is anyone filtering the submissions? This is starting to look like reddit.

    • by BradleyUffner (103496) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @02:59PM (#42350953) Homepage

      It requires a memory dump of the system where the keys are used. Bad submitter. Is anyone filtering the submissions? This is starting to look like reddit.

      Which you can get VERY easily if the computer has a firewire port.
      http://blogs.gnome.org/muelli/2010/04/reading-ram-using-firewire/ [gnome.org]

      • Except that only things in recent history that routinely have Firewire are Macs - which this software (apparently) doesn't deal with.

        (But Saint Jobs is thinking of the Faithful and deprecating Firewire, just in case).

        • by kagaku (774787) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:51PM (#42351695)

          This works with anything that provides DMA access - including FireWire, ExpressPort, PCMCIA, Thunderbolt, etc..

          • by amorsen (7485)

            Only on systems without an IOMMU or with an OS which does not properly limit access. Both of which are becoming rarer.

      • by torkus (1133985) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:59PM (#42351777)

        That article is 2+ years old and deals with XP. Also the author chews on words for the first paragraph or two and makes me want to shoot myself (not to mention being wrong on a few points...) but anyhow..

        Does the memory dump apply to Win 7/8? Fully patched XP? FW ports are a niche and rather uncommon. Of more interesting concern - are hibernate files encrypted on a bitlocker encrypted drive?

        I agree with GP - this is a terribly written submission (and/or just an advertizement.) Bitlocker, PGP, and trucrypt ALL decrypt in realtime already - if you provide them with keys!!!

        • The OS has nothing to do with it. Firewire ports are DMA, as are Thunderbolt ports if I remember correctly, which means access to the port means direct access to the RAM. That means you can not only read the data, but you can also potentially manipulate it (killing processes, injecting code into already running processes, etc.).
  • Not (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @02:56PM (#42350901)

    So, how does it work? Elcomsoft Forensic Disk Decryptor acquires the necessary decryption keys by analyzing memory dumps and/or hibernation files obtained from the target PC. You’ll thus need to get a memory dump from a running PC (locked or unlocked) with encrypted volumes mounted, via a standard forensic product or via a FireWire attack. Alternatively, decryption keys can also be derived from hibernation files if a target PC is turned off.

    That's not really cracking. It's more like looking under the keyboard for sticky-notes.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Yes, except certain standards basically give your peripherals practically free reign to roam through your memory, specifically Firewire and Thunderbolt or if the attacker can add such a port through extension cards and the drivers are installed automatically. This is rather well documented behavior [microsoft.com], and the small price you have to pay for closing this loophole:

      The drawback of this mitigation is that external storage devices can no longer connect by using the 1394 port, and all PCI Express devices that are connected to the Thunderbolt port will not work. Because USB and eSATA are so prevalent, and because DisplayPort often works even when Thunderbolt is disabled, the adverse effect caused by these mitigations should be limited.

  • At $300 and being from Russia, one would assume that they wouldn't just release it as a DRM-free application...which raises the question whether they add DRM to it, and how they're going to protect it, especially if they've got the means of decrypting all of these high-security encryption mechanisms.

    I'm wondering if there isn't an alternative business model here - a bounty for encrypted laptops, decrypting the data internally, and using that data for ransom. I'm pretty sure it'd work much better than sellin

    • by NemosomeN (670035)
      Elcomsoft is a legitimate business, at least I always had that impression. (They are well known, in fact I've known of them for years, I think. Never knew they were Russian).
  • Misleading title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RenHoek (101570) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @02:58PM (#42350921) Homepage

    Unlike the title claims, it doesn't _crack_ in real time, it just allows you to mount the encrypted volume and lets you decrypt it with the keys you found. I.e. make it work just like truecrypt when you mount a partition.

    If they were able to _crack_ in real time, then they'd have just solved P = NP.

    • EXACTLY! Mod parent up please! This is not exactly new. Snagging encryption keys from hibernation files or RAM dumps is nothing new. And the Truecrypt win32 binary will allow you mount the volume in read only mode if you want to view the contents and have the acquired key. So, this does everything you can already do for free, but with the added benefit of being a $300 product. I guarantee you that law enforcement is going to be the biggest purchaser of this product, even though this capability already
      • by snemarch (1086057)
        Auto-locating the decryption keys (for multiple products) rather than manually digging through a 16gig ram dump is easily worth $300 :) - I'd kinda expect law enforcement companies to have already come up with tools, though (or, perhaps more likely, be paying (lots more) for already-existing products).
        • by torkus (1133985)

          There aren't any tools today that do key mining from memory dumps? Free ones too I'd guess. Granted they probably have cheezy MIDI music and scrolling 'credits' to ignore so obviously not appropriate for gubermint agencies.

          I'm sure I could google a half dozen quite easily if my proxy server didn't block those sites.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If they were able to _crack_ in real time, then they'd have just solved P = NP.

      Neither AES nor Public Key Crypto (atleast as far as I'm aware) has ever been shown to be polynomial-time reducible to an NP-Complete problem..

      So your claim is not tue...

  • by RatRagout (756522) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @02:58PM (#42350935)
    They are simply extracting the encryption keys from the memory of a running computer using DMA and firewire. @breaknenter has been doing this with inception and some scripts for years.
  • Encrypted swap? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:00PM (#42350979)

    I don't use windows, but on other OSs, the swap where "hibernation" data goes, is encrypted to avoid such trivial exploits.

    As for the firewire attack, that was first developed on Linux, and immediately prevented on Linux. On Windows, it has been available since XP days, and MS notified of the issue back then. So, no excuse it is still trivial to unlock, disk dump, mem dump a windows box through the DMA firewire hack, now 3 major versions on since this attack was well known.

  • What TFS does not mention is that you need to acquire the encryption key for it to work. Hardly trivial.

    Elcomsoft suggest attacking the hibernation file (Windows only, encrypted along with the system drive so probably inaccessible anyway, may not actually have the key) or using a Firewire attack on a live system with the volumes already mounted (useless for an offline attack, easily circumvented by disabling Firewire, not all machines even have it).

    Nothing to see here.

  • No. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This tool IS NOT capable of "cracking" disks encrypted by these methods. It is capable of locating the keys, should you be able to get a memory dump of the running system or obtain hibernation files, and decrypting the disks using the keys. In short, if you have something to hide, do not use hibernate and always power off your machine when you are not actively using it.

  • by interiot (50685) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:09PM (#42351137) Homepage
    This tool extracts the keys from RAM dumps. There are free tools [forensicswiki.org] that do this too, of course.

    But isn't it difficult to get a RAM dump, you say? Not really:

    • Hibernating a computer writes this data to disk. Starting in Windows 8, "shutdown" actually writes some hibernate data by default.
    • VMs also have their own suspend functionality that does a RAM dump, as well as non-SAN VM migration.
    • Firewire ports actually allow devices to scan RAM of the machine they're connected to. [breaknenter.org]
    • Obviously, if you have access to a live machine, you can get the keys directly from RAM.
    • Also many new devices have Intel Rapid Start which uses a memory-sized partition on SSD to do a hardware-level hibernate (very fast).

      I'm the kind of guy who uses swap on LUKS to do secure hibernation and even I started to setup up a Rapid Start partition, thinking it would be very useful, before the little security lobe of my brain started shouting "no, your keys!". There's precious little about this risk on a Google search save a Dell tech document that says that it might be incompatible with software-bas

  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:26PM (#42351375)
    I would actually call this more of a "finder of the decryption key if left hiding in RAM or hibernation file while encrypted partition is mounted":
    It works only if
    (1) you can get a volatile memory dump while the encrypted partition is mounted and the decryption key currently resides in the volatile memory or
    (2) if you can get access to a hibernation partition/file which contains the decryption key from when the encrypted partition was mounted.
    From the linked article So, how does it work? Elcomsoft Forensic Disk Decryptor acquires the necessary decryption keys by analyzing memory dumps and/or hibernation files obtained from the target PC. Youâ(TM)ll thus need to get a memory dump from a running PC (locked or unlocked) with encrypted volumes mounted, via a standard forensic product or via a FireWire attack. Alternatively, decryption keys can also be derived from hibernation files if a target PC is turned off. So saying that this software is capable of decrypting PGP / Bitlocker / Truecrypt partitions is hyperbole. A more accurate assessment of this software is capable of finding the decrpytion/encryption key in RAM or hibernation files.
  • by swb (14022) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:27PM (#42351385)

    I thought TrueCrypt,et al were smarter with their RAM-based keys than that and made them more difficult to sniff in RAM, as this has long been a well-known weakness of any encryption software.

    Or is there something about whole-disk encryption software that makes this more difficult (which I can see from a performance perspective)?

    You would think they would randomize memory locations or have some kind of method of encrypting the keys in-memory and decrypting them and wiping as they did disk I/O. A race condition that would expose them, but with a smaller window for exploitation than leaving them in memory.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:43PM (#42351597) Homepage

    I used to have their password kit for enterprise and it would make me look like a complete computer GOD to the users.

    "I lost the password to my spreadsheet...."
    "what is the password I used on this zip file?"
    etc....

    I would crack about 5-10 passwords a week with their tools and ended up never having to buy drinks when going out with office workers after work because of it.

  • Keep all your AES keys in registers [uni-erlangen.de] -- no affiliation, except that I'm a user and I would much prefer that it be mainlined to streamline my rebuild process. Given that there's such little performance penalty on x64/AES-NI, this should be the defacto standard.

  • by DERoss (1919496) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @05:42PM (#42352857)

    OpenPGP as implemented in Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), Gnu Privacy Guard (GPG), and possibly other applications is a private-key/public-key encryption method. You encrypt with the public key, which cannot decrypt what it encrypts. Thus, the whole world can have copies of your public key. You decrypt only with your private key, which does not encrypt. Thus, you try to keep your private key truly private.

    However, there is another consideration. You have a pass phrase that is used to encrypt your private key for storage on your computer. That is, your private key exists on your computer only in an encrypted form that cannot be used without first decrypting it with your pass phrase. My pass phrase has well over 30 characters (over 240 bits), including blank spaces and special characters. It exists only in my head plus on a piece of paper in a very secure and remote location in case I drop dead.

    I use PGP. To decrypt a file, I must enter my pass phrase, which PGP then uses to decrypt my private key. PGP then uses the decrypted private key to decrypt the file. The decrypted key is in a cache and can be reused so that I do not have to keep typing my pass phrase. The cache is automatically purged after a user-set interval of time. I can also manually purge the cache, which I always do when I am through decrypting. Purging the cache should be standard procedure for anyone concerned about keeping encrypted data secure.

    Thus: (1) Even if my private key is compromised (e.g., captured), it is really useless without my pass phrase, which does not exist electronically. (2) Proper procedures prevent access to the cached decrypted copy of my private key.

    Of course, all this is overcome if a key-logger or other means is used to capture the input of my pass phrase. If that happens, I have greater problems than someone decrypting files I want to protect.

  • by clovis (4684) * on Thursday December 20, 2012 @07:01PM (#42353555)

    I don't think that it is interesting that someone has figured a way to hack a running computer that they have physical access to.
    However, the hibernation file inspection hack had bothered me, or rather didn't bother me after I read the document.

    Check out http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/hibernation-file [truecrypt.org]

    from the link:
    Note: The issue described below does not affect you if the system partition or system drive is encrypted* (for more information, see the chapter System Encryption) and if the hibernation file is located on any of the partitions within the key scope of system encryption (which it typically is, by default), for example, on the partition where Windows is installed. When the computer hibernates, data are encrypted on the fly before they are written to the hibernation file.

    When a computer hibernates (or enters a power-saving mode), the content of its system memory is written to a so-called hibernation file on the hard drive. You can configure TrueCrypt (Settings > Preferences > Dismount all when: Entering power saving mode) to automatically dismount all mounted TrueCrypt volumes, erase their master keys stored in RAM, and cached passwords (stored in RAM), if there are any, before a computer hibernates (or enters a power-saving mode). However, keep in mind, that if you do not use system encryption (see the chapter System Encryption), TrueCrypt still cannot reliably prevent the contents of sensitive files opened in RAM from being saved unencrypted to a hibernation file. Note that when you open a file stored on a TrueCrypt volume, for example, in a text editor, then the content of the file is stored unencrypted in RAM (and it may remain unencrypted in RAM until the computer is turned off).

    Note that when Windows enters Sleep mode, it may be actually configured to enter so-called Hybrid Sleep mode, which involves hibernation. Also note that the operating system may be configured to hibernate or enter the Hybrid Sleep mode when you click or select "Shut down" (for more information, please see the documentation for your operating system).

    To prevent the issues described above, encrypt the system partition/drive (for information on how to do so, see the chapter System Encryption) and make sure that the hibernation file is located on one the partitions within the key scope of system encryption (which it typically is, by default), for example, on the partition where Windows is installed. When the computer hibernates, data will be encrypted on the fly before they are written to the hibernation file.

    Note: You may also want to consider creating a hidden operating system (for more information, see the section Hidden Operating System).

    Alternatively, if you cannot use system encryption, disable or prevent hibernation on your computer at least for each session during which you work with any sensitive data and during which you mount a TrueCrypt volume.

    * Disclaimer: As Windows XP and Windows 2003 do not provide any API for encryption of hibernation files, TrueCrypt has to modify undocumented components of Windows XP/2003 in order to allow users to encrypt hibernation files. Therefore, TrueCrypt cannot guarantee that Windows XP/2003 hibernation files will always be encrypted. In response to our public complaint regarding the missing API, Microsoft began providing a public API for encryption of hibernation files on Windows Vista and later versions of Windows (for more information, see the Version History, section TrueCrypt 5.1a). Since version 7.0, TrueCrypt has used this API and therefore has been able to safely encrypt hibernation files under Windows Vista and later versions of Windows. Therefore, if you use Windows XP/2003 and want the hibernation file to be safely encrypted, we strongly recommend that you upgrade to Windows Vista or later and to TrueCrypt 7.0 or later.

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