Bob ‘n Alice On Security

Helping to Avoid a False Sense of Security

Corsair Flash Padlock 2 USB Flash Drive Vulnerability

leave a comment »

Corsair has issued a press release announcing the discovery of a security issue that exposes data on their Flash Padlock 2 USB Flash Drive. The drive uses a keypad to allow users to enter a PIN in order to unlock data on the drive. The announced vulnerability allows anyone to access the data on the drive without knowing or entering the correct PIN. In the press release Corsair included a 10-step process that must be undertaken by the end user in order for the drive to “meet its security specification”, which presumably means to keep the data secure from those without knowledge of the PIN.

Interestingly enough, this second version of the keypad-protected device is also the second version released by Corsair that suffers from a critical security failure. As The H reported in 2008, the original Padlock from Corsair could be breached by simply opening up the device, attaching an external power source, and reading the data – which was unencrypted – from the memory stick.

This should serve as yet another reminder that external authentication factors – including biometric identification, PINs entered via external keypads, or voice recognition – are no substitute for a solid security architecture.

As always, stay safe and avoid a false sense of security.


Written by Alice

July 1, 2010 at 13:23

Posted in Corsair: Padlock

Kingston Acknowledges Security Vulnerability in Hardware, SanDisk to Follow?

leave a comment »

Back in December I wrote about Kingston acknowledging that a number of Kingston’s secure USB flash drives had been hacked. Yesterday, Kingston issued a press release announcing they would “replace affected secure USB flash drives with upgraded security architecture, new drives”. For a company that operates on lean margins this has got to be a huge expense, one that would only be incurred if there was no other choice. In issuing this press release, Kingston has effectively acknowledged that the security vulnerability plaguing its devices is the result of a fatal design flaw, not a software issue that could be resolved with a downloadable patch.

In terms of their replacements, Bob has learned that the new devices will be available around the end of January and will be much slower than the units they are replacing, with data transfer rates of about 5MB/sec. They will be based on entirely new hardware with an entirely new design architecture. Given the speed with which these devices are becoming available it is reasonable to assume that these were to be the next phase of secure USB flash drives to be sold by Kingston, though the transfer rates bring into question whether they have been fully optimized.

The fact that Kingston has issued a total recall of their affected secure usb flash drives brings up another interesting issue. As reported before, SanDisk secure USB flash drives have been hacked, as well as similar devices made by Verbatim. All three companies’ devices share a similar vulnerability, revealed around the same time, and yet SanDisk and Verbatim maintain that a software update is sufficient to render their devices once again secure. Either the differences in implementation between these devices are significant enough that SanDisk and Verbatim have dodged a bullet, or they are avoiding making the tough decision to issue a full recall.

These companies bear watching to see if they will come to the same, painful conclusion that Kingston has reached, or if they will be able to resolve their problems in a less costly manner.

As always, stay safe and avoid a false sense of security.

Written by Alice

January 14, 2010 at 20:40

SanDisk Cruzer Enterprise Secure USB Flash Drive Hacked

with 3 comments

Less than 24 hours after reporting that Kingston’s secure USB flash drives have been hacked, it appears that SanDisk’s secure USB flash drives have been hacked as well. According to SanDisk, they have “recently identified a potential vulnerability in the access control mechanism” for their Cruzer Enterprise series of flash drives. Given that access control is literally the key to any secure environment, it seems safe to interpret this as the “corporately correct” way of saying that SanDisk Cruzer Enterprise devices have a security hole.

This calls to mind a previously detailed SanDisk Cruzer Enterprise secure USB flash drive vulnerability.

Here is the relevant text from SanDisk’s website that covers this newly reported vulnerability:


Security Bulletin December 2009

The Cruzer® Enterprise series of USB flash drives are equipped with a hardware-based encryption module and an access control mechanism to protect company data. SanDisk has recently identified a potential vulnerability in the access control mechanism and has provided a product update to address the issue.

Important Note: This issue is only applicable to the application running on the host and does not apply to the device hardware or firmware.

As a result, all Cruzer Enterprise USB flash drives being shipped to customers as of today contain the product update. SanDisk has also taken measures to inform customers and channel partners about the issue and has provided a software product update online to secure existing Cruzer Enterprise USB flash drive devices.

Devices to which this change applies

  • Cruzer® Enterprise USB flash drive, CZ22 – 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB
  • Cruzer® Enterprise FIPS Edition USB flash drive, CZ32 – 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB
  • Cruzer® Enterprise with McAfee USB flash drive, CZ38 – 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB
  • Cruzer® Enterprise FIPS Edition with McAfee USB flash drive, CZ46 – 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB


It should be noted that, as with the Kingston secure USB flash drive hack, this vulnerability impacts FIPS validated flash drives, which are marketed to U.S. and Canadian government agencies and thus should be considered the most secure of the devices offered by these companies.

As a little background, the FIPS 140-2 certification is divided into four possible security levels, the highest of which is Security Level 4. Currently, the highest level of FIPS 140-2 validation available for flash drives is Security Level 3, offered by only a few vendors. Security Level 3 is the first level that includes tests for physical security and/or tamper detection-response circuitry, designed to “zeroize” all plaintext critical security parameters (CSPs). However, both of the compromised series of devices offered by Kingston and SanDisk had FIPS products that had only been validated to Security Level 2, which does not include this critical requirement.

In resolving this issue SanDisk claims to have taken measures to inform customers and channel partners, and has provided a software product update online that purportedly fixes the problem.

As always, stay safe and avoid a false sense of security.

Written by Alice

December 22, 2009 at 17:44

Kingston Secure USB Flash Drive Hacked

with 4 comments

It appears that Kingston’s secure flash drives have been hacked. In case the page changes, what follows is the information that Kingston is currently posting about the vulnerability of their DataTraveler series of secure flash drives.


Kingston’s Secure USB Drive Information Page

It has recently been brought to our attention that a skilled person with the proper tools and physical access to the drives may be able to gain unauthorized access to data contained on the following Kingston Secure USB drives:

  • DataTraveler BlackBox (DTBB)
  • DataTraveler Secure – Privacy Edition (DTSP)
  • DataTraveler Elite – Privacy Edition (DTEP)


Looking through this list it will be interesting to see if DataTraveler BlackBox will maintain its FIPS 140-2 Level 2 certification, an important qualifier for government purchasers in the United States and Canada.

If you own a Kingston it appears the only way to correct this flaw is to send your flash drive back to Kingston for a factory update, during which all data will be erased. While Kingston has acknowledged the flaw in their secure products, they do not appear to have taken the step of issuing a general recall of all compromised devices. As of yet there is also no indication as to whether large-volume or other registered customers will be notified of the vulnerability.

As always, stay safe and avoid a false sense of security.

Written by Alice

December 22, 2009 at 00:53

Lexar JumpDrive Secure Vulnerability

leave a comment »

Cruising through the archives I came across this report on a major Lexar JumpDrive Secure vulnerability. The password to the device is “encrypted” by xoring it and storing it in the nand flash. It’s trivially decipherable.

It’s an older example, but shows how a product called “Lexar JumpDrive Secure” simply isn’t secure, and professional cryptographers were clearly not involved in the design and implementation of the product.

As always, stay safe and avoid a false sense of security.

Written by Bob

June 13, 2009 at 15:49

Another Biometric Flash Drive Vulnerability

leave a comment »

Here’s a link to an article about a number of easy to crack biometric flash drives brought to light by the folks at Heise Online. This vulnerability in two of the controllers from Afa Technology, a.k.a. Afatech, effects flash drives from the following vendors:

  • 9Pay
  • A-Data
  • Transcend

Given that flash drive vendors often use controller chips manufactured by third parties, it is likely that additional biometric flash drive vendors harbor this same vulnerability. Afatech recently merged with another Taiwan-based IC company, ITE Tech, and press releases indicate their controller design team will be integrated into a similar R&D team at ITE Tech. Therefore, any purchases of biometric flash drives from vendors that use controllers from Afatech or ITE Tech should be scrupulously reviewed.

As always, stay safe and avoid a false sense of security.

Written by Alice

May 29, 2009 at 10:19

Fake Kingston Flash Drives

with one comment

Here’s a link to an interesting post on fake Kingston flash drives being sold on eBay. This is a good reminder to always buy flash drives (or any portable media) that are labeled with individual serial numbers, preferably directly on the drive itself. A call to the vendor is also a good idea, especially when purchasing in bulk.

This security professional is going to make some calls right now….

As always, stay safe and avoid a false sense of security.

Written by Alice

May 15, 2009 at 09:54