David Kirkpatrick

July 16, 2008

Watch out for partially encrypted disks …

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:06 pm

data can leak into the unencrypted sections potentially exposing what you might assume is protected information.

From the CIO.com link:

If you’re using encryption software to keep part of your computer’s hard drive private, you may have a problem, according to researchers at the University of Washington and British Telecommunications.

They’ve discovered that popular programs like Word and Google Desktop store data on unencrypted sections of a computer’s hard drive — even when the programs are working with encrypted files. “Information is spilling out from the encrypted region into the unencrypted region” said Tadayoshi Kohno, an assistant professor at the University of Washington in Seattle who co-authored the study.

He believes that there are probably many other applications and operating system components that leak out information in a similar way. “I suspect that this is a potentially huge issue. We’ve basically cracked the surface,” he said.

The researchers say that people who are using full-disk encryption, where every piece of data on their hard drive is encrypted, do not have to worry. However the issue pops up when users create an encrypted partition or virtual disk on their hard drives, leaving part of the drives unencrypted, or even when they store data on encrypted USB (Universal Serial Bus) devices, Kohno said.

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