Robot can rip the data out of RAM chips with chilling technology


Cold boot attacks, in which memory chips can be chilled and data including encryption keys plundered, were demonstrated way back in 2008 – but they just got automated.

That original type of attack has been improved and automated in the form of a memory-pilfering machine that can be yours for around $2,000, with a bit of self-guided electrical fiddling.

On Friday, at the REcon reverse engineering conference in Canada, Ang Cui, founder and CEO of Red Balloon Security, is scheduled to present a talk titled “Ice Ice Baby: Coppin’ RAM With DIY Cryo-Mechanical Robot.”

The presentation focuses on a Cryo-Mechanical RAM Content Extraction Robot that Cui and colleagues Grant Skipper and Yuanzhe Wu developed to collect decrypted data from DDR3 memory modules. The rationale for doing so is that hardware manufacturers have made it more difficult to reverse engineer their devices – by disabling JTAG debugging interfaces and UART circuitry, and through using ball grid array (BGA) packaging and encrypted firmware.

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