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The Advent of Trusted Computing:
Implications for Digital Forensics
TCG has been developing a set of guidelines [8] that will serve as The release of computer hardware devices based on “trusted a baseline for a wide variety of platforms—from personal computing” technologies is heralding a paradigm shift that will computers, personal digital assistants, to cellular telephones. have profound implications for digital forensics. In this paper, we A number of initiatives falling under the auspices of trusted map out the contours of a trusted environment in order to computing (TC) are currently under development. The most establish the context for the paper. This is followed by the main notable ones are: (i) hardware-related projects—Intel is components of the TC architecture with an emphasis on the developing a new chip called LaGrande Technology (LT) and Trusted Platform and the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). The AMD is working on one called Pacifica. (ii) Software-related next section presents a synopsis based on three threat models, viz., projects—Microsoft is releasing a new operating system they (i) pc owner-centric, (ii) trusted computing-centric, and (iii) have christened Windows Vista—originally called Palladium/ digital forensics-centric and then briefly touches on the Next-Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB)/Longhorn. At implications and unintended consequences of trusted computing the time of this writing, a dominant design has begun to coalesce for digital forensics. Finally, the last section of the concludes with a recommendation on how to mitigate the negative effects of To establish the context for the paper, we begin by mapping out the contours of a trusted environment. This is followed by the Categories and Subject Descriptors
main components of the TC architecture with an emphasis on the Trusted Platform and the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). The K.5.0 [Legal Aspects Of Computing]: General. next section presents a synopsis based on three threat models, viz., (i) pc owner-centric, (ii) trusted computing-centric, and (iii) General Terms
digital forensics-centric. Section 5 outlines the implications of trusted computing for digital forensics with respect to file system analysis and evidence recovery. Finally, the last section of the Keywords
paper offers some recommendations on how to mitigate the negative effects of trusted computing for law enforcement. Cybercrime, data recovery, encryption, file systems, forensics, specifications, Trusted Computing. 2. TRUSTED COMPUTING OVERVIEW
The TCG defines trust as “the expectation that a device will “We shape our tools, and thereafter behave in a particular manner for a specific purpose” [8]. To be considered a trusted environment, a minimum of three conditions our tools shape us”—Marshall McLuhan. 1. INTRODUCTION
Protected capabilities—are based on a set of commands that have The Trusted Computing Group (TCG) is a not-for-profit industry- exclusive permission to access shielded locations (e.g., memory standards organization that was set up to establish specifications and/or registers) where it is safe to work on sensitive data. for architectures, functions and interfaces that support hardware- Integrity measurement—is the process of obtaining metrics of based trusted computing solutions. As part of their mandate, the platform characteristics that affect the integrity (trustworthiness) Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are Integrity reporting—serves two main functions: (i) to expose not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies shielded-locations for storage of integrity measurements, and (ii) bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior to attest to the authenticity of stored value based on trusted SAC’06, April, 23-27, 2006, Dijon, France. Copyright 2006 ACM 1-59593-108-2/06/0004…$5.00. 3. TC ARCHITECTURE
Secure Functions. The trusted chip (i.e., the TPM—see Fig 1)
This section describes the logical layout of the TC architecture as manages three main groups of functions: (i) public key functions, outlined in the TCG documentation [8].1 At present, the TCG (ii) trusted boot functions and (iii) system initialization and specifications are being designed to provide personal computers management functions.2 In order to verify that there have been no with an essential hardware base for client-side security. malicious additions to the hardware or software, measurements According to Safford, the TC architecture provides two important (i.e., SHA-1 hashes) are made during the boot process and stored security functions: secure storage of signature and encryption in the Platform Control Registers (PCRs). keys and system software integrity measurement [7]. It should be Based on the current configuration, the TPM behavior is limited noted that the TC architecture includes both hardware i.e., the by a combination of three mutually-exclusive modes of operation: trusted platform module (TPM) and software components i.e., the Enabled / Disabled—the TPM may be enabled/disabled multiple trusted support services (TSS). Given the focus of this paper on times within a boot period. When the TPM is enabled, all features data recovery, only hardware issues will be dealt with. are available; whereas when the TPM is disabled, all operations The Roots of Trust represent the minimum functionality needed to are restricted except the ability to report TPM capabilities and to describe the properties that affect the trustworthiness of a accept updates to the Platform Configuration Register (PCR). computing environment. The trusted platform is comprised of Activated / Deactivated—when activated all features of the TPM three Roots of Trust: (i) a root of trust for measurement (RTM)— are available. In a deactivated state, the TPM is similar to measures integrity and enables transitive trust; (ii) a root of trust disabled except that operational state changes such as "change for storage (RTS)—presents summary values for integrity digests owner" or "activation with physical presence" are possible. and maintains the sequence of digests; and (iii) a root of trust for reporting (RTR)—reports information held by the RTS. The Owned / Un-owned—a platform is owned when the owner of a Roots of Trust must be trusted due to the fact that any platform is authorized to perform all functions including misbehavior taking place within the confines of the system might not be detected. Each root is expected to function correctly TC Keys. The main classification for TC keys are non-migratable
without external oversight. The Trusted Building Blocks (TBB) vs. migratable. Non-migratable keys embedded in the TPM and the Roots of Trust form a trust boundary where measurement, include: (i) the Storage Root Key (SRK) and (ii) the Endorsement storage and reporting can be accomplished using a minimal Key (EK). Migratable keys may be exchanged (exported/ configuration. According to the TCG specifications, "[t]he TBB imported) which enables the TPM to sign application data and should be established such that devices containing other enforce usage restrictions. This allows the key pair to follow the measurement code do not inadvertently extend the TBB boundary user around irrespective of device type. To extend non-migration where trustworthiness of the linkages has not been previously attributes to opaque data, data are stored with the RTS using a established" [8]. Or, as Stafford points out, "integrity non-migratable storage key. This means that as long as an opaque measurement can be used to detect software compromise, such as object is controlled by the TPM, it cannot be decrypted elsewhere. a rooted kernel, and to lock down use of protected keys and data Within the TCG schema, keys are considered communication endpoints. Therefore, if communication endpoints are poorly configured or keys are improperly managed, a breach in security may result. The TPM advances security by providing both key management and configuration management features (e.g., features such as protected storage, measurement and reporting are combined to “seal” keys and platform configurations making endpoint definition stronger.3 The TCG defines four classes of protected message exchange: Binding—is based on the traditional operation of: (i) encrypting a message using the intended recipient's public key and (ii) recovering the message using the intended recipient's private key. If the private key is a nonmigratable key, then only the TPM that 3.1 Trusted Platform Module (TPM)
Signing—is a process that associates the integrity of a message The main components included in the TPM schema that are with the key used to generate the signature. expected to have the greatest impact on the personal computing environment include: (i) secure functions with a focus on the modes of operation and the issuance of credentials, (ii) TC keys with a focus on measurement and the protected message exchange 2 Using the initialization and management functions, the owner protocols, and (iii) expanded capabilities with a focus on secure can turn functionality on and off, reset the chip, and take input/output, memory curtaining, sealed storage, and attestation. 3 Protected messaging is based on two principles: (i) that messages intended for one and only one individual can be 1 The background material for section 3, unless noted, is drawn encrypted using a public key and (ii) the message can be protected from tampering by signing with a private key. Sealing—binds a set of metrics—a platform configuration state 4. THREAT MODELS
that must exist before decryption can proceed—to a message. The Computer Security concerns the protection of information assets. symmetric key used to encrypt the message is associated with a For personal computers this means the protection of stored data set of PCR register values and a non-migratable asymmetric key. and programs. Protection typically involves integrity, Sealing ensures that protected messages are only recoverable
when the platform is functioning in a very specific known configuration” [8:16]. Scenario 1: The traditional pc threat model. In the traditional
security model for personal computers, the threats are external
Sealed-Signing—can be used to provide an assurance that the and do not involve the owner of a personal computer (pc). That is, platform that signed the message meets specific configuration the owner is trusted and has full control over the pc. The owner is identified by a password and/or biometrics. The adversary is an Any command that affects security and privacy or is capable of unauthorized user (a hacker)–see Fig 2. With networked systems revealing platform secrets must be authorized which means that a secret must be supplied as part of command invocation. Commands that do not require authorization include: (i) informational commands (i.e., they contain no security or privacy information) and (ii) privacy relevant meta commands (i.e. they are needed to configure command validation). Expanded Capabilities. Once the TPM has been activated, new
features will be available to pc owners, content providers and law Figure 2. The traditional pc threat model enforcement agents (LEAs). The particular capabilities singled out for our review are the ones generating the most controversy of computers, the computers are only used as platforms and the information assets are stored centrally and managed by a network administrator who enforces the access control policies of the Secure Input and Output (I/O)—to minimize the type of threat system. With such systems, the administrator is the only trusted posed by keyloggers and screen-grabbers, secure I/O provides a tamperproof communications route between a user and an application. Under secure I/O, the keyboard and mouse will be Scenario 2: The trusted computing threat model. The security
protected from physical attacks; screenshots or scrapes will be model for trusted computing is similar to the personal computers disabled; and programs that deliberately corrupt, modify or model, except that in this case the trust between the pc and its mislead the user will be prevented from running or operating. owner is broken–see Fig 3. That is, every user, including the Memory Curtaining—memory that has been isolated from other internal processes enables trusted programs to run without interference.4 Encryption keys locked in a data vault (a chip attached to the motherboard) are used to maintain privacy and integrity. Although process isolation can be achieved using software, the advantages of hardware include: (i) greater backwards compatibility, (ii) less code needs to be rewritten and (iii) fewer changes to device drivers and application software. Figure 3. The trusted computing threat model Sealed Storage—encryption keys, based on a combination of owner of the pc, is untrusted. Only the pc is trusted. The owner hardware and software, are used to store data in an encrypted has restricted access to the information assets stored on the hard format means the data can be read only by the same combination drive of her/his computer. The restrictions are intended to limit of software and hardware. If an application other than the one that and contain the damage that can result from any security flaw in was used to seal the data attempts to decrypt or unseal the data, the operating system of the computer, as well as to protect its the operation will fail. Similarly, if the data is copied in encrypted owner from, inadvertently exposing or corrupting information form to a different machine, attempts to decrypt it will be assets stored on the hard drive (e.g., by importing malicious code), privacy threats (by encrypting stored data on the hard drive Attestation—is the process of verifying and vouching for the with keys generated by the hardware), illegal copying or file accuracy of information and it works by having the TPM generate sharing, unfriendly behavior to the software and publishing a certificate that confirms—NO unauthorized installs, updates or industry, by tethering (preventing files from migrating), lock-ins changes to have been made to the user’s hardware or software. (only approved software will run), forcing upgrades/downgrades, Attestation is designed to prevent data (e.g., commands, and possibly other non-disclosed mechanisms (the good, the bad executables, private information) from being sent to/from a and the evil?). This model can be regarded as a special case of the security model for networks in which the network is replaced by a single computer and the administrator by the operating system of the computer. This is essentially a Big Brother model [4], in which (the hardware of) the computer is designed in such a way so as to protect its owner from “wrongdoings”, where the 4 With curtained memory, even the operating system is denied wrongdoings are determined to a large extent by business and corporate interests. This does not benefit the software industry as a whole, because it introduces anti-competitive practices [4, 7] but to mention, preventative measures—passphrases/biometrics, it enforce Digital Rights Management [23]. curtained memory and sealed storage—may have been set up to thwart unauthorized access. Ideally, LEAs will secure the Scenario 3: The digital forensics threat model. The security of
cooperation of the pc owner who will reveal pertinent the models discussed so far, focuses on preventing attacks. For information. Most likely, unless some kind of plea bargain or our last model, the model for digital forensics, security focuses on immunity arrangement is worked out beforehand, there will be detection. This model is similar to the model for trusted little or no incentive for the pc owner to cooperate since without computing, only that in this case the hacker is replaced by a the decryption keys, incriminating data will remain protected5 i.e., trusted law enforcement agent (LEA). The owner of the computer unrecoverable. For forensics practitioners, this means that a new remains untrusted–see Fig 4. The objective of the LEA is to ex- generation of intermediary forensics tools will be needed that can to extract data from TC-enabled machines. File System Analysis. Given the ease with which data can be
modified, a major issue confronting all cyberinvestigations is
“what type of data can be trusted.”6 When dealing with TC-
enabled computers, not only will more system data be stored in
tamper-proof logs but data that were previously out-of-bounds Figure 4. The digital forensics threat model will now be routinely signed, sealed and bound to a user. Every time someone who operates a TC-enabled machine comes in tract incriminating data stored on the computer. The computer is contact with a digital object, a unique fingerprint will be created. trusted not to corrupt this data, and to make it possible for the It is assumed that once critical mass is reached, law enforcement agent to decrypt it. The main difference from the model for will be able to rely on digital signatures and time stamps derived trusted computing is that in this case the “wrongdoings” are from authentication procedures to corroborate evidence and rule determined by well-established legal procedures, based on the out suspects—in much the same way that DNA is currently used. interests of society as a whole, rather than the interests of the Similarly, it is expected that hashes/digests that are generated as a by-product can be used for separating ‘known from unknown’ file types and data carving purposes. In other words, law enforcement 5. TC IMPLICATIONS
will have at their disposal a historically rich source of metadata As noted earlier, trusted computing has generated a ground swell they can use to more closely associate individuals with the of controversy. Without the addition of user-friendly fixes—viz., actions, thereby increasing the likelihood that this evidence will some type of override mechanism—opposition is likely to continue [2]. Once trusted computing is deployed on a massive Data Recovery. At the time of this writing, details regarding
scale and the reality of a ‘locked down’ computing environment Microsoft’s new operating system (Windows Vista) are few and starts to sink in, there is bound to be a backlash. However, from a far between. To date, no guidelines, comparable to the TCG digital forensics point of view, the advent of trusted computing, is specifications, have been published. Therefore, it is difficult to not all bad. In fact, the TC-enabled features most feared by the hazard a guess as to how well data recovery efforts will fare under naysayers may become a boon for cyber-investigators. On the trusted computing. To consider what some of the implications other hand, if file-encryption becomes the norm, trusted might be, we can conjecture the following: computing may turn out to be law enforcement’s worse nightmare. To get an inkling of the potential impact of TC and its In keeping with past releases (e.g., Windows 9x/0x, NT, XP), unintended consequences, this section focuses on three key Vista will most likely retain the same layout, data structures elements in the digital forensics arsenal: acquisition, file system (records, signature values, flags, options) and file formats (indexing, journaling) that first appeared in the FAT file system and were later revamped/revised and incorporated into NTFS Acquisition. At the scene of the crime, it has become standard
[3:351-395]. If so, that is good news. Apart from learning new practice to “bag and tag” evidence and take it back to a safe terminology and tweaking some data recovery tools, no environment (e.g., a certified forensics lab) for imaging and significant changes in digital forensics modus operandi will be analysis [8]. When dealing with servers, to avoid disruption, most required for recovering unencrypted data on a TC-enabled forensics examiners—once normal safeguards are in place—will machine. It is expected that the Microsoft OS will retain little acquire the evidence right on the spot. With trusted computing, it endian ordering, the Master File Table (MFT), metadata, and file is still unclear what type of acquisition policies should be attributes. DOS partitions, clusters, sectors and slack space will followed. For example, if it is known a priori that a case involves continue to exist. Short/long file names and deleted data will unencrypted data, it will be safe to follow ‘standard operating procedures.’ Depending on the circumstances, it will be up to the forensics team to decide where and how to acquire the evidence. Alternatively, if a TC-enabled box with encrypted data becomes 6 Carrier makes a distinction between essential (trusted) and part of an investigation, cyber-investigators are well advised to nonessential (untrusted) data. For example, he considers file approach these machines/devices as if they are mission critical. In system information such as content addressing to be essential, any event, forensic teams responsible for data recovery should err otherwise the system would be unable to read the file; whereas on the side of caution. Depending on what type of secure I/O or data and time stamps are nonessential because they can be easily remote attestation has been set up, these machines may interpret manipulated by the user [3:12-13]. Non-essential data that can be any unauthorized interference as a threat and act accordingly. Not easily manipulated is more likely to be challenged in court. continue to be recovered in the same manner. Data will continue practice of using encryption keys that are not stored on the to be written to the hard drive using the same allocation computer (or cannot be internally generated by the computer) is algorithms. Now, for the bad news. There is no reason to expect the most serious threat to digital forensics. By the same token, that Microsoft will follow in the same footsteps.7 In fact, given whoever uses this practice, the one being recommended by the Microsoft’s track record, there is every reason to believe TCG, is also at great risk of losing all data stored on the hard otherwise. Most likely—which may account for all of the drive if he/she loses the encryption keys. So these keys must be delays—Microsoft is poised to come out with an entirely new file kept safely. This is where law enforcement must insist that the system that is not backward compatible, retains no structures in TCG rework their design to incorporate some type of key common with NTFS and cannot be reverse-engineered (without recovery mechanism even though we recognize that this solution running afoul of the DMCA). All of which does not bode well for is unlikely to be popular with pc owners. However, the alternative—losing valuable data--is even less appealing. 6. UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES
Under the current guidelines, trusted computing based on The release of computer hardware devices based on TC is hardware encryption uses a key generated internally (which is a heralding a paradigm shift that will have profound implications function of the computer identity, the software encryption identity for digital forensics. TC-enabled machines are expected to thwart and possibly other system parameters). What happens if LEAs do everything from denial of service attacks, unauthorized access, not have access to the decryption key or worse still, there is a phishing scams, to illegal downloads. What is often overlooked in hardware malfunction? Does this mean that all data on the hard this brave new world—where every bit is locked down—is the drive is lost, in the sense that it is encrypted and the system downside risks. Conducting a cybercrime investigation in an cannot compute the required decryption key so the information environment dominated by secure I/O, curtained memory, sealed storage and attestation technologies will present some unique In fact it is possible to get the key, provided cyberinvestigators challenges for law enforcement. Any increase in actionable have access to the computer ID and the software encryption ID. evidence may be offset by encrypted data that cannot be recovered. Just as the Internet spawned spammers and hackers; no doubt trusted computing will create a new breed of cybercriminal A: The hardware is designed so that it is impossible to get the who uses encryption and darknets to avoid detection. In computer ID (note that it must be easy to get the software ID, conclusion, we ignore at our peril, McLuhan’s admonition: otherwise the computer will not be able to generate a key for encrypting/decrypting). In this case, it will be impossible to We shape our tools, and thereafter, our tools shape us. compute the decryption key and therefore to decrypt stored data, even by the pc owner. If trusted computing is implemented this way, it is doomed, because any hardware failure will result in all 8. REFERENCES
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can recover the data. For the same reason, the agent can recover Questions - TC / TCG / LaGrande / NGSCB / Longhorn / the data, as indeed anybody else who has physical access to the Palladium / TCPA. Version 1.1 August 2003. URL: pc. For example, even a thief. The only way around this that we ftp/users/rja14/tcpa.pdf . can see (so that the agent can, but the thief can’t) is to protect the [3] Carrier, B. File Systems and Forensics Analysis. Addison-
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Systems to Make Big Brother Obsolete. Commun. ACM. The solution to this dilemma would be to hardwire the pc with an “encryption” ID which is printed internally and stored in a way that it can’t be easily recovered. To access the encryption key, the [5] Lemos, R. Hardware security sneaks into PCs, CNET
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SOFIA D. PANTELIOU Associate Professor Machine Design Laboratory Dept. of Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautics University of Patras, 265 00 Patras Phone: 30-2610-997.206, Fax: 30-2610-997.207, 0030 6932814102 Born 1953 in Corfu Greece, two daughters, Irini: 23 years old, Mechanical Engineer (graduated November 2006), Dafni: 19 years old, 2nd year Touristic Management stud

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