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SPYRUS(R) Announces Its Encrypting and Bootable Windows To Go Drives Are Invulnerable to "BadUSB" Attacks

Proven SPYRUS Design and Manufacturing Solution to Signed Firmware Update Process Has Been Successfully Implemented for Decades

SAN JOSE, CA -- (Marketwired) -- 08/13/14 -- SPYRUS today announced that all SPYRUS bootable Windows To Go and Encrypting Storage Drives, including the Secured by SPYRUS™ Kingston® DT5000, DT6000, and PNY "Secured by SPYRUS™" drives are invulnerable to "BadUSB" attacks.

BadUSB attacks were publicized at the recent presentation from the 2014 Black Hat Conference entitled "BadUSB: On accessories that turn evil," by Karsten Nohl and Jacob Lell of the SRLabs, Berlin. This lab study publicizes a latent, but understood vulnerability, that potentially could affect any unprotected USB or microcontroller network connected device on the market today.

"This is not a previously unknown vulnerability. SPYRUS has been protecting our encrypted drives since our first product design that was used to protect the DoD Defense Message System with a cryptographically secure design that integrates signed firmware updates into the manufacturing process along with selective hardware disabling of update processes," said Tom Dickens, COO, SPYRUS. "This completely defeats USB hack attacks. If the firmware is somehow tampered with after signing, signature verification will fail and the unauthenticated update terminates. Contrary to the presentation's description of the 'limitations' or difficulty of applying the use of code-signing for firmware updates to microcontrollers as an effective deterrent because of the difficulty of implementation, SPYRUS has implemented cryptographic code signing in all our security products as a core competency since the release of our first product."

In essence, this attack can convert benign, normally secure USB peripherals or any vulnerable device controllers into "BadUSBs" or "bad controllers" for purposes determined by an attacker. Conventional malware scanners and antivirus programs cannot detect the tampering after-the-fact. By the time it's detected, it may be too late to reverse the results because of device or system operational failures. The only way to prevent this attack is to understand how to prevent it in the initial design and implementation of the firmware architecture.

The firmware hack attack described in the Nohl-Lell presentation can change, in whole or in part, original unprotected controller firmware code and replace it with new code, indistinguishable from a vendor firmware update. However, unlike a legitimate firmware update from a device vendor, it morphs the controller into whatever new behavior and set of characteristics the attacker desires. This is true whether the memory controller is a USB storage device, automated CNC machine, medical device, energy grid component, or any device controller connected to the "Internet of Things." And from there, these controllers can act as covert vehicles of attack that extract sensitive information, distribute viruses or take over the control of devices and machines even on protected networks.

The SPYRUS manufacturing process embeds cryptographic parameters into the device controller and protects the private digital signing key from theft or cloning. The critical aspects of using digital signatures to verify the authenticity and integrity of a firmware update and its source demand quality creation of a public key pair and private signing key and secure storage and key access. At SPYRUS, these functions are carried out in a U.S. secure facility by U.S. personnel and an access policy that requires two or more authenticated personnel to access the key in a physically locked vaulted room. These standards and procedures are audited regularly and must be maintained continuously, a product lifetime investment that many other controller and device manufacturers are hesitant to make.

The use of code-signed firmware updates, as properly implemented by SPYRUS, has and will continue to mitigate the dangers from these attacks while enabling our devices to be feature enhanced to meet new customer requirements and prolong the lifetime of the device. Other industry-leading security features of SPYRUS encrypting storage and bootable drives include:

  • XTS-AES hardware encrypted compartments
  • Read-Only settings that can be enabled to prevent permanent writes to memory compartments
  • Advanced Elliptic Curve Cryptography support in addition to the older RSA cryptographic algorithm support
  • FIPS 140-2 Level 3 SPYCOS® hardware security module
  • Made In USA security technology
  • Passwords that are never stored on the device in any form
  • Optional use of secure secondary/tertiary DataVault compartments
  • Embedded smartcard capabilities for two-factor authentication
  • New ruggedized tamper-evident water-resistant aluminum case design with tethered end-cap
  • SPYRUS Enterprise Management System to centrally manage access to devices and destroy, enable/disable and audit devices

For a full list of product specific features and for more information regarding the advantages of using SPYRUS products, please visit our website at or contact us at [email protected].

Related Links
Windows To Go Video
Windows 8.1 Enterprise

About SPYRUS, Inc.

SPYRUS delivers innovative encryption solutions that offer the strongest protection for data in motion, data at rest and data at work. For over 20 years, SPYRUS has delivered leading hardware-based encryption, authentication, and digital content security products to government, financial, and health care enterprises. To prevent the insertion of untrusted components, patented Secured by SPYRUS™ security technology is proudly designed, engineered, and manufactured in the USA to meet FIPS 140-2 Level 3 standards. SPYRUS has collaborated closely with Microsoft to deliver the first certified hardware encrypted portable platform for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Window 8.1. SPYRUS is headquartered in San Jose, California. See for more information.

SPYRUS, the SPYRUS logo, Secured by SPYRUS, and SPYCOS are either registered trademarks or trademarks of SPYRUS, Inc., in the U.S. and/or other jurisdictions. All other company, organization, and product names are trademarks of their respective organizations.

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