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It’s Not Just Apple: US Spies Tried to Crack Microsoft Windows’ Encryption Too

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A series of new documents leaked by Edward Snowden reveal that the CIA has been working on ways to break and circumvent Apple’s encryption for years.


But Apple hasn’t been the only target. The story published by The Intercept on Tuesday also reveals, without going into too much detail, that the CIA might be able to break into BitLocker, the Microsoft software that encrypts hard drives.

What the document suggests, basically, is that the CIA has found a way to decrypt data on a BitLocker-protected hard drive. But according to experts, this might not be as surprising as it sounds, given the type of attack that the CIA describes in the document.

At a spooks-only conference in 2010, according to a document released by The Intercept, researchers at the CIA talked about how they could extract private encryption keys from a special security chip called the Trusted Platform Module or TPM, which is necessary to use BitLocker, by “measuring electromagnetic signals emanating from the TPM.”

This is what cryptographers call differential power analysis, a sophisticated side-channel attack in which spies use sensors or other devices to study the power consumption of a chip while it encrypts and decrypts information to extract the keys from it.



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