NIST Certified USB Drives Cracked

Three NIST certified USB drives (those from Kingston, Sandisk and Verbatim) have been cracked. It turns out that the protocol for communicating between the password checking software on the host, and the encryption engine on the drive itself was very naively implemented. A fixed string was sent from the host to the drive to indicate that the password had been entered correctly and so to unlock the drive. Of course, any other mechanism for sending the appropriate string to the device would work just as well and so unlock the drive without the necessity for knowing the password.

The best solution to this is to perform all the authentication on the drive itself, as Biogy does on its personal data vault. But even if authentication is done on the host, there is a requirement for a protocol to unlock the drive that is not vulnerable to a simple replay.