Review of Hardware Encryption vulnerability of Kingston and SanDisk USB flash drives

The Kingston Technology company, a leader in the production of safe USB drives, and one of the first ones that started producing USB flash drive with hardware encryption (Kingston DataTraveler Secure) announced that some of its models of USB flash drives with hardware protection feature are vulnerable. The announcement was posted on the company’s web site saying that with the help of some tools you can access this USB drive (i.e. hack it without a password). News regarding some models of Kingston being prone to cracking is very surprising because these flash drives have been certified in compliance with FIPS 140-2.

Everything started with the fact that the German company SySS published a document entitled “Companies SySS hacked USB flash drive with hardware encryption Kingston certified FIPS 104-2”. In this document they describe in details the authentication protocol between the drive and the program (the user), which they found on the basis of intercepted USB traffic + vulnerability that was discovered. And also some screenshots of the utility, which is embedded in the process of authentication program for USB drives, and as a result – we may enter any password and access will be granted.
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On-the-fly encryption without administrative rights.

On-the-fly encryption without administrative rights is possible!

As you know many disk encryption softwares lack the ability to be used on a Public computers (without having Administrative rights). Because they need to install virtual disk driver first, but this is possible only when you have Administrative rights (i.e. only on your Home PC). This issue becomes more significant when portable encryption solution is needed.

Encrypted disk explorers
A very few disk encryption solutions have a portable Disk Explorer utility that allows working with an encrypted disk image in an off-line manner (without mounting virtual disk letter). But you can’t work with the files as regular, you can only extract the needed file outside Disk Explorer and then open it. Then you need to Import file back to the Disk Explorer if you have changed it. In this case “On-The-Fly encryption” principle doesn’t work. And there is security disadvantage – you may leave ‘un-encrypted files’ somewhere, and you can’t work with big files.

But now Rohos Mini Drive enhances portable encryption and offers “On-The-Fly encryption” even in traveler mode by using Rohos Disk Browser:

  • Now you can double click any file to open it immediately in associated application. And work with it in a regular way.
  • You can open big files (for instance watch an encrypted AVI file, listen to music).
  • There is no ‘un-encrypted’ data stored on a Guest PC or unsecured part of USB flash drive.
  • you can run Portable Applications! (experimental feature. not all of the Apps may work)

Rohos Mini Drive creates encrypted partition on any USB flash drive and you can use it on any PC. You can also use this partition on Public PCs without having administrative rights. This is possible by using Rohos Disk Browser that allows opening any Rohos partition container (FAT/FAT32/NTFS, read/write), browse it, extract files and now Virtualize Files for any application.

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Lock Mac OS Snow Leopard with USB Key

Apple is expected to release Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard two months after WWDC ’09. Today we have updated install package of Rohos Logon Key for Mac OS X. Now for those who already migrated to Snow it’s possible to lock Mac with a USB Key security. Rohos Logon Key allows converting any USB flash drive into a security Key to access your Mac without entering password each time.

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Test: How to password protect Ceedo on 8GB drives

To our laboratory were delivered USB flash drives – Kingston DataTraveler 101 and Transcend JF V10, both of 8GB capacity. The tests we had run were mostly focused on compatibility and functionality of these USB flash drives with Rohos Mini Drive that creates hidden and password protected partitions on USB drives. Additionally, we discovered a way of locking Ceedo by moving it to the Rohos partition.

How do you prefer to protect your important files and folders in your USB flash drive?

Rohos Mini Drive – allows to create an encrypted partition on your USB flash drive, where you store your private data and applications. You can open these data on a guest computer without having Admin rights. Did we mention that it’s free?

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Access your Windows computer with YubiKey

The video shows thorough instructions on how to set up and use YubiKey for secure Windows logon. “Also Rohos Logon Key supports YubiKey with static password and dynamic OTP” – says Alex. “As an additional level of protection Rohos Logon doesn’t allow to type in the OTP manually, denying such OTPs.”

Access Remote Desktop with YubiKey

The video shows how to set up YubiKey for Remote Desktop access. “In order to use YubiKey for RDP you need to install Rohos Logon Key Server Version“- says Alex. “USB Key Management Utility from Server Version allows you to add and set up Yubikey.” To learn more on how to set up YubiKey in Rohos Logon Key please, read

Rohos Disk for YubiKey

Especially for YubiKey users Tesline-Service would like to announce Rohos Disk v.1.30 beta release. Now you may securely access your encrypted partition just by one touch. Nice and easy!

Download Rohos Disk v.1.30 (beta)

YubiKey benefits in Rohos Disk:

  • No need to re-program YubiKey in static mode; both YubiKey configurations are supported
  • Rohos Disk allows to authenticate YubiKey OTP against any server (Yubico server settings included)
  • Also there is an option to enter YubiKey’s AES key so Rohos Disk could decrypt and verify it locally

If you re-programed YubiKey in a static password mode, you can also use it in Rohos Disk.

You may see the video on “How to Access Rohos Disk with YubiKey

Here are some screen shots:



How to backup data on the USB drive secured partition

Rohos Disk Encryption software allows users to have  new secure storage on a computer or USB flash drives. In this post we would like to underline the importance of data back-up especially if you are using Rohos disk on USB flash drives. Due to nature of USB flash drives (portable and special memory design) its memory is subject to external influence and the data integrity is not so strong.

Most people realize the importance of data back-up after the disaster has happened:

  • they lost USB stick with secured partition on it
  • after a couple of month of using secure partition on the USB flash drive it has numerous of File System errors due to missed Disk Check procedures
  • after an occasional (but still possible) USB memory data sector failure a part or entire secure Rohos partition is damaged

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How to safely re-format USB Flash Drive into NTFS

Rohos Disk Encryption software creates hidden and protected partition on the USB flash drive. With the help of the program you may password-protect a part of your USB flash drive and open it on any computer by simply entering your password.

Since most USB Flash drives, even the larger ones, are normally formatted with the FAT32 file system – there are limitation on the maximum size of the encrypted partition of 2 or 4 GB (max file size limitation).

In order to create a secured partition that is bigger than 2 Gb you need to change your USb stick into NTFS format.

Before changing the file system on a USB drive care should be taken to backup any critical data on it just in case the process does not work.

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