Three hardware-based password voults have been analyzed by a security researcher and credentials stored in plaint text and hardware resets survive.
An investigation into these three stand-alone password managers discovered that data can be read directly from chips on the board through hardware hacking, explains security researcher Phil Eveleigh.
RecZone Password Safe, FAST Passwords and Royal Vault Password Keeper were tested by Eveleigh. For protect these devices a passcode is used, and users can also add URLs, usernames and password for each page.
“Although one thing I found consistent across all devices is that the keyboard is difficult to use and does not encourage strong, complex passwords,” explains the researcher.
Eveleigh says that the study begins by adding information to the computer, then deleting the case of the device to access the panel and examining it.
The RecZone system has an eight-pin flash chip to store data. The search engineer could power the chip by a Raspberry Pi and noticed that once the Pi was connected, the data could be read and the data stored in plain text.
He also found that the data was still present on the chip even after the computer was reset. The 4-digit master pin set after the reset is also present in plaintext on the device.
“What this means is that when a user presses the reset button and sells the phone, all his passwords are still read directly from the chip, in plain text,” says the researcher.
Eveleigh says he contacted the manufacturer to let them know about the vulnerability but received no response.
PasswordsFAST requires a particular chip-reading debugger and code, does not support JTAG and does not have an AES authentication module built in.
This was driven by the Raspberry Pi and the investigator noticed that the information were encrypted and obviously a different encryption key was used for every unit.
To gain access to the data, one would have to dump the MCU firmware and analyze the manner in which the information is stored or attempt cryptoanalysis on encrypted data.
“Some similarities exist between the two devices so far, both use flash to store the data, so the data can be read with basic cheap equipment from both devices,” the researcher says
Royal Vault Password Keeper uses two panels, one with a blank SPI flash and one with CMOS flash which calls for a universal programmer to read the chip.
What the researcher found was that the CMOS flash chip included multiple user data, suggesting that the device was repeatedly repurposed.
During encryption, the researcher found the master pin in the data and was then able to decrypt data by identifying encryption patterns.
“This opens the system to hacking, which can decrypt all information from any device. We have reached Royal to let them know about this security vulnerability, but have not replied, “says Eveleigh.