Re: Passphrase and swapfile (David Picón Álvarez)
David Picón Álvarez
Thu Jun 6 21:24:02 2002
> Imagine yourself acting from the attackers point of view. The passphrase
> might, and might not appear within the last overwrite of the swap file.
> directory shows which sectors the swap file occupies. A complete
> replication of the swap file is achieved in Windows. The encrypted
> messages and the secret key file are in hand. You, as the attacker, do
> not know where in the swap file the password might exist. You decide to
> limit your search to strings in which bit 7 is not set. Even though the
Now, this is partly true, but isn't it so that if you know what program
could have put the string there it is easy to look for chunks of the
> for an English dictionary search type attack is about perhaps 140K bytes,
> and the permutations for that are already worked out in advance. We're
But that will only work if the passphrase is natural-language based. In fact
that will only work if it's english-based, which, if you're interested to
know, isn't :-)
> will, either. Suddenly the dictionary search starts to look like a pretty
> good thing to try first. Next, since you've already succeeded at
I agree that dictionary attack is the first concern. I was just thinking of
other possibilities. At any rate, as I've already said, this is more of a
hypothetical risk, since I'm not some sort of narco-god or something.
> burglarizing this computer, will you begin to consider alternatives to
> cracking the password from the swap file, such as trapping keystrokes
> over the course of weeks with a tiny program you've added? Let's face
You can only do that if you give the computer back. I was thinking more in
terms of the computer being seized.
> it, a skillful attacker has many alternatives, and would prefer to use one
> that yields consistent results. Is the most recent overwrite of the swap
> file really the greater risk to your security? Isn't a brute force
> crack likely to be in the arsenal of the attacker? Wouldn't the attacker
> be equipped for that, too?
By brute-force password do you mean brute-forcing the symmetric cipher with
which the key is encrypted? Isn't that supposed to be nearly impossible?
At any rate, your answer is quite enlightnening, and it made me see quite
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