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Forensics Tool Finds Headerless Encrypted Files

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the sir-there's-an-anomaly-here dept.

Data Storage 374

gurps_npc writes "Forensics Innovations claims to have for sale a product that detects headerless encrypted files, such as TrueCrypt Dynamic files. It does not decrypt the file, just tells you that it is in fact an encrypted file. It works by detecting hidden patterns that don't exist in a random file. It does not mention steganography, but if their claim is true, it seems that it should be capable of detecting stenographic information as well."

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Niggers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778027)

I'm black. Does that make me a nigger?

Yes. See below: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778127)

NIGGER OWNERS MANUAL

Hi, my name is Barack Hussein Obongo [obongo08.com] and I approve of this message

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER bitches ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Plausible Denial? (5, Funny)

telchine (719345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778031)

I'm am a citizen of the United Kingdom. Amongst many odd laws we have here, there's one that basically means that you can go to jail if you refuse to hand the police your encryption keys if they ask for them. The one saviour was Truecrypt's plausible denial. If they don't know you have encryption they can't ask for keys!

Now they do know I have encryption... ...and I've forgotten my password.

Can someone please give me tips on how to avoid dropping soap in the shower?

Re:Plausible Denial? (4, Funny)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778115)

practice holding soap between your cheeks, that should prepare you well.

Don't worry (4, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778135)

The company has "innovations" in it's name, so their product probably won't work.
If it did work against true crypt, which is a yard stick of well implemented encryption, I'm sure they'll come up with a counter measure by the next minor release.

Also: In before XKCD strip.

Re:Don't worry (3, Informative)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778299)

What I am guessing is that they are doing Gaussian analysis. It is actually quite simple, and not too hard to implement. If a data set is truly random then the statistics will have some basic indications that it is random.

Since encryption implements a lossless conversion then the data is not random. BECAUSE random data is just that random.

Though it would not be that hard to get around this because the statistics can be fooled. Actually would not be that hard to do that. Thinking about it, rather interesting problem...

BTW I do statistical and probabilistic analysis in a hedge fund...

Re:Don't worry (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778511)

Since encryption implements a lossless conversion then the data is not random. BECAUSE random data is just that random.

Encryption in ECB mode leaves a very clear pattern, because identical input blocks leads to identical output blocks. Pretty much every other block chaining mode doesn't though because they mix it the preceding blocks, so i'm guessing an implementation flaw because the cryptographic primitives are pseudorandom, they have no distinguishable non-randomness unless you know the exact key.

Re:Don't worry (3, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778693)

What I think they are doing and I think it would indicate an encrypted drive is distribution analysis.

If you have truly random data then there is a specific pattern. If you have deleted or unused blocks there will be a specific pattern.

But if you have an encrypted block the distribution will not be like any of the other pieces of data. This is your indicator.

Think of it as follows. You are driving on the highway and somebody on the highway drives the speed limit exactly, stays in the center lane, and does not switch lanes at all. Even though that would seem to be right, it is actually quite wrong and it would make police suspicious.

Re:Don't worry (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778973)

I would guess that they are just looking for files that are overly random.

Plain text won't be particularly random, and unwritten space won't be particularly random either. Do a quick check if the file can be decompressed by 7-zip and you filter out a bunch of false positives.

Re:Don't worry (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779067)

I would guess that they are just looking for files that are overly random.

How can something be overly random? It's either random or it's not.

Re:Don't worry (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779137)

Yeah, that was a terrible way to phrase it. Files that have exactly no structure aren't something that are normally present, which is what I was trying to say. Most files will have some amount of structure, there is a good chance that the ones below some threshold are either compressed or trying to hide something.

Re:Don't worry (2, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779059)

You've never heard of cruise control on a 500 mile trip have you?

Re:Don't worry (2, Funny)

inviolet (797804) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778329)

The company has "innovations" in it's name, so their product probably won't work.
If it did work against true crypt, which is a yard stick of well implemented encryption, I'm sure they'll come up with a counter measure by the next minor release.

This will probably become an arms race, in order to use vs detect subtler and subtler patterns in the bytes.

In any case, this tool will probably end up being used by law-enforcement as a polygraph, or breathalyzer: not true, not quite false either, but exciting enough to get the suspect to confess.

Reminds me of a funny story about polygraphs. The cops were questioning a particularly stupid criminal, and they knew he did it (disclaimer, disclaimer). So they taped some stripped wire ends to his fingers, and ran the other ends of the wires into some random slot on a nearby xerox machine. They had secretly placed a paper onto the copier's glass with the words "HE'S LYING" written on it. When the guy answered a question and they knew he was lying, they'd fully press the copy button, rather than just pretending to press it. Out would come a copy of the paper -- HE'S LYING -- and the guy, whelmed, confessed. Ha ha, owned. :)

Re:Don't worry (1)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779015)

I seem to remember that being a scene from The Wire.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27779117)

That was in The Wire.

Re:Don't worry (4, Interesting)

FutureDomain (1073116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778735)

The company has "innovations" in it's name, so their product probably won't work.

I actually tried it with a Truecrypt volume and a random file (/dev/urandom) and it seems to work. The Truecrypt is identified as "Encrypted Data (Headerless)" and the random file is identified as "Data File (Unknown)".

Re:Don't worry (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778885)

What does it say about a Truecrypt hidden volume?

Re:Plausible Denial? (0, Troll)

Ingcuervo (1349561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778257)

you can try riding a horse for a couple hours every day, then after a couple weeks, you will add som difficult, you should put a tennis ball between your ass and the horse, doit for a couple weeks, after that you might drop de soap, but you will be used to anything that can happen besides that

Re:Plausible Denial? (-1, Troll)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778333)

Go to the goatse man's website and learn about doing anal stretching exercises so they don't rip your anus to shreds in jail.

Re:Plausible Denial? (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778353)

Your computer is infected by a rootkit that dumps payloads on your system?
Sadly, this is my case where I have randomly named files on my system that I just cannot remove short of reinstalling the OS.
However, giving the extent of viruses, who's to say that you placed the content on your computer or even knew it was there.

Re:Plausible Denial? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779099)

Your computer is infected by a rootkit that dumps payloads on your system? Sadly, this is my case where I have randomly named files on my system that I just cannot remove short of reinstalling the OS. However, giving the extent of viruses, who's to say that you placed the content on your computer or even knew it was there.

In a way that's pretty funny.

"Windows is insecure and has all of these virus problems."
"It's not a bug, it's a feature! This way you have plausible deniability."

Re:Plausible Denial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778373)

Why would you use encryption, have something to hide?

They way UK laws have been heading, I don't blame you! It goes all the way back to the shit surrounding the criminal justice bill in the 80s.

Re:Plausible Denial? (4, Informative)

jroysdon (201893) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778393)

I thought one feature of TrueCrypt was the ability to have two passwords. One password unlocks your "non-secret" data. The other password unlocks your "secret" data in a hidden volume.

http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/plausible-deniability [truecrypt.org]

The point is both sets of data are stored in one big binary blob. It'll all look like one big fat encrypted mess. In fact, if you are not careful, your non-secret data can overrun your secret data.

To get around this "randomness" problem, after creating your non-secret partition, fill the partition completely with something (copy a few public domain books over and over until the partition is full). All the "randomness" will be gone with encrypted data. Then delete everything and put back in just the smallest amount of non-secret data you need to store in order to appear legit. The "randomness" is still there, as only the FAT entries are deleted, but all the encrypted data is still filling up that whole binary blob.

Now, create your secret partition and use it. Be sure to use it just short of the non-secret data's amount (as they fill from the opposite end), otherwise your non-secret partition will be corrupted.

This link helps with the graphics:
http://www.truecrypt.org/docs/hidden-volume [truecrypt.org]

The one downside is that the non-secret side, if it fills up with too much data, will override your secret side. That's why your have backups and this is just for transport anyway, right?

Re:Plausible Denial? (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778639)

you got it. It's called hiding in the noise.

Format your drive, now plug it in as usb and create a full size truecrypt encryption on it and fill it with junk.

now take the drive, delete that file and then use it as your new drive whatever. any encrypted files will be hidden in the noise of the background encrypted file that is in the blank area of the drive.

Re:Plausible Denial? (5, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778695)

"That's cute, sir - now give us the other password"
- "what other password?"
"for the hidden truecrypt volume"
- "what hidden truecrypt volume??"
"the one that's being referred to by half a dozen applications' most recently used files lists"
- "oh err.. that's uh.. another drive entirely"
"very well, then hand us that other drive"
- "err uhm.. my dog ate it?"

If you're really, really serious about these things, maybe you could work super-diligently to prevent leaving any clues as to that hidden volume's existence.. odds are something's going to bite you in the behind somewhere though.

Re:Plausible Denial? (2, Funny)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778959)

>recently used files lists

strange, my cli apps don't seem to have that

Sure they do! :) (2, Insightful)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779123)

[pb@localhost ~]$ tail ~/.bash_history
less GnosLoadPDFForms.pdf
file GnosLoadPDFForms.
mv GnosLoadPDFForms.pdf GnosLoadPDFForms.fdf
file GnosLoadPDFForms.fdf
evince GnosLoadPDFForms.fdf
less GnosLoadPDFForms.fdf
su
acroread GnosLoadPDFForms.fdf
top

Re:Plausible Denial? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778801)

The tool claims to be able to detect patterns that indicate files. So if you give them your first password, they can look for said patterns within the first encrypted file, thereby displaying that a second level of encryption exists.

Re:Plausible Denial? (2, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778883)

The one downside is that the non-secret side, if it fills up with too much data, will override your secret side. That's why your have backups and this is just for transport anyway, right?

It has a protection option where you can enter the hidden password along with the normal password so the hidden partition will be protected, the outer container will be frozen on a write attempt to hidden data. I think it's unnatural that you must ensure that there's no data written to the end of the disk though, it leads to some peculiar disk format choices and so on. A better implementation would be more like a transparent file system layer, where the outer partition could write anywhere it wants and the encryption software would move any encrypted data already stored there. It'd make it more difficult to locate the header but maybe a pseudo-random sector based on password. That way the outer container could look really natural. Today they tend to seem so very staged which tends to bring you don't from plausible deniablitity to "you can't PROVE it" deniability.

Re:Plausible Denial? (1)

PMuse (320639) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778811)

...you can go to jail if you refuse to hand the police your encryption keys if they ask for them.

Interesting. Does anyone know if there are similar laws concerning assisting the police in non-digital searches? In the UK? In the States?

For example, suppose that a 9mm handgun was used to kill your husband. The police have records indicating that you own such a gun and they have your empty gun case, but your gun is missing. A ballistic analysis of your gun would be vital evidence, but you remain silent. A trial later acquits you of murder. Can the police charge you with Failure to Assist in an Authorized Search and send you to jail for not telling them where your gun was?

Re:Plausible Denial? (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779109)

Can the police charge you with Failure to Assist in an Authorized Search and send you to jail for not telling them where your gun was?

In the US, you have no duty to assist the police, only a duty not to impede them. I think an analogous situation would be whether they could charge you for refusing to open the safe. Is remembering the combo the same as giving up the passcode? Is it possible self incrimination to do so? You aren't telling them things that implicate you, just how to get at things that might do that. What if you're a lawyer and there are client files in that safe/encrypted volume?

Re:Plausible Denial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778851)

"Can someone please give me tips on how to avoid dropping soap in the shower?"

Sure... don't use soap. PERIOD.

Re:Plausible Denial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778901)

Don't worry, with this software, they can find your encrypted files even if you don't have any. They will have some screenshots from these tools to prove it.

"TrueCrypt" or anything else is pretty much irrelevant.

Patterns? (5, Informative)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778063)

It works by detecting hidden patterns that don't exist in a random file.

I should first say that I'm rather ignorant about encryption but I hope someone will be able to explain this. I was under the impression that any sort of good-quality encrypted data is indistinguishable from completely random data. That seems to directly contradict the ability to determine whether a volume contains encrypted data by means of locating patterns. Is this really a contradiction?

Re:Patterns? (1)

feld (980784) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778113)

If you have a file and encrypt it with an algorithm, it will become encrypted and look like nonsense.

If you take another copy of the original file and encrypt it, it will become encrypted and look like nonsense... but still be identical to the first encrypted file.

Encryption doesn't = random. It just means indecipherable.

Re:Patterns? (3, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778201)

The fact that there's order in the encrypted information doesn't change the fact that, to an outside observer that doesn't know the original information or the key can't tell the difference between the encrypted information and true random noise. That's part of the point.

If they can tell that it's not random, that's a start on cracking the encryption and gaining the original information.

Re:Patterns? (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778269)

Right - If your encrypted file is distinguishable from noise, your algorithm is broken. Maybe they were using this to find things encrypted using the ROT-13 or XOR cipher? I find it very hard to believe that this thing could distinguish between an AES encrypted file and a file of the same size full of random bits. Its site claims that it, "Detects Encrypted Files, including TrueCrypt", but my guess is that they just look for headerless files full of noise.

They give no details about how they do it other than "There actually is a pattern to it. You have to know how to extract that pattern.", but I'm still calling snake oil.

Re:Patterns? (3, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778515)

Actually, if you use the wrong block cipher mode, it's easy to distinguish between an encrypted file and random noise. AES-256 encrypts 128 bits of data at a time (with a 256-bit key). If you use the same key and the same block of data (ECB mode), you get the same output and can determine that there's something there.

If you modify each block with some known quantity that is different from block to block, then the output becomes much less patterned. For example, Counter (CTR) mode XORs or adds an increasing count to each block of cleartext, so that if you have two identical blocks of cleartext, the output is very different. Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) takes the encrypted output of block N and XORs it with the cleartext of block N+1 before encrypting that block.

Re:Patterns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778917)

That's called a known cleartext attack. If they already have the original file then the point of encryption is moot.

Re:Patterns? (1)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778605)

Now I would actually agree with them. I think you could find out.

Though the way to fool this system quite easily is make the entire drive appear like an encrypted file. That way they can't distinguish between where it starts and where it ends.

Then when asked to pull up the data they can't prove you one way or the other... (and you can pull up non-critical information)

Re:Patterns? (2, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778557)

No...

Encryption is supposed to indicate random noise. But encryption in a grand sense is about writing, and rewriting data.

Let's say I have data which is number 2...

My key is 4,4,4

My encryption is:

Value1 + number -> * Value3 -> - Value4

So it is 4 + 2 * 4 - 4... And I get some number...

I do this multiple times and I get a bunch of other others. Put all of these numbers together and I get what looks like giberish (assuming the algorithm is good enough).

But here is the problem, underneath the data is a pattern. And the calculations are a pattern, as a result a pattern emerges. The pattern is called human language.

For example one strategy for passwords is to use random data. Then you have no patterns because the resulting encryption is random noise.

To give you an understanding, I deal with random numbers and I cannot use a computer based random number generator because they generate patterns.

I subscribe to a random number service which is connected to a quantum lab and space noise...

Now, to say if it is not random you can start cracking it. Guess what you are right, but what if your numbers have 500 hundred thousand places. Going in reverse to figure out what those numbers are is actually pretty hard. That is why you have these issues of finding prime numbers...

Re:Patterns? (1)

MeanMF (631837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778751)

This is why it's a good idea to use a different initialization vector every time you encrypt something. Ideally your encryption software will do this for you automatically.

Re:Patterns? (1)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778139)

And how many completely-random files do you have on your computer?

Re:Patterns? (2, Informative)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778233)

And how many completely-random files do you have on your computer?

One, and a second file that's pretty close. /dev/random and /dev/urandom.

Dear mods, that's meant to be facetious. Some of you seem to be a little trigger-happy so you won't understand why I shouldn't have to explain that.

Re:Patterns? (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778733)

Dear mods, that's meant to be facetious. Some of you seem to be a little trigger-happy so you won't understand why I shouldn't have to explain that.

Make your joke and take the moderations like a man.
If you are going to explain that it is a joke, you might as well not bother in the first place since explaining takes away all the fun.

Re:Patterns? (0, Offtopic)

owlstead (636356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778829)

Hmm, either the slashdot mods are again rising up to the challenge or they are not understanding the word "facetious". Now I'm confused.

Re:Patterns? (1)

AnotherBlackHat (265897) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778545)

I knew testing that hardware random number generator was a bad idea.

Re:Patterns? (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778559)

I think it goes with the whole "Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" mantra.

If a file is indistinguishable from random noise, then a court can't prove that it's encrypted data.

That said, in reality they can make your life a living hell.

Re:Patterns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27779001)

Which is why I keep my encrypted volume in a directory full of source code. Among that code is a program called "test_random.c". In it is some code I wrote that plays around with generating random numbers based on various seed values (and resetting the seed at various intervals). It basically chooses a random value n from 2 to 10. It then outputs a file of size n-gigabytes of completely random data to a file called "test_random.output". I ran that once to make sure it worked. THEN, I took my exactly 4GB encrypted file named "test_random.output", and placed it in that directory. I have no intention of ever rerunning the binary for my test_random program. Unless they want to get REALLY down to it, I'll just claim that it's leftover from a run I did of my test_random program.

Filenames changed to protect the innocent.

Re:Patterns? (2, Insightful)

thehickcoder (620326) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778755)

Good point. My guess is that is how this tool actually works. It relies on the assumption that any statistically psuedorandom files (or maybe even partitions) must be encrypted, since every other file will contain some sort of pattern.

Re:Patterns? (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778939)

Perfectly compressed data is indistinguishable from random noise. Well-compressed data is "close" to random noise. So I suspect any file type I have that uses a good compression method (jpeg, most mpeg codecs) looks close enough to completely random.

(Be nice, I'm just an information theory hobbyist.)

Re:Patterns? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779049)

well my /b/ folder is pretty random

Re:Patterns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778681)

Um... if those "random" bits of data on your hidden volume keep changing every so often for no good reason at all, that kind of gives it away that that data is not really random at all. All you need to do is compare the "random" data at regular intervals and figure out WHY "random" data would change for no reason at all.

This only works if you can check out the data inbetween someone changing them, ie. not once you take away someone's hard drive for good and analyze it.

Another thing would be Truecrypt's refusal to overwrite certain parts of that "random" data inside the not-hidden container. Gives it away that it's protecting the integrity of a hidden container.

This whole argument is moot. The best way to crack a Truecrypt container, or any other encryption algorithm is with a Bic lighter and pliers, anyway.

Re:Patterns? (4, Informative)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778867)

Another thing would be Truecrypt's refusal to overwrite certain parts of that "random" data inside the not-hidden container. Gives it away that it's protecting the integrity of a hidden container.
Why do people constantly make this mistake?
TrueCrypt cannot know a hidden partition exists, *unless* you enter the inner volume password. It will cheerfully let you write right over the inner volume without so much as a by-your-leave, if you only give it the first password. It is true deniability, assuming this tool can't distinguish "encrypted blank space" and "encrypted data".

Re:Patterns? (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778895)

Another thing would be Truecrypt's refusal to overwrite certain parts of that "random" data inside the not-hidden container.

Actually, according to several other posts on the subject, Truecrypt will happily overwrite the hidden container if you're not careful.

Umm... (4, Informative)

drakaan (688386) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778071)

s-t-e-g-a-n-o-g-r-a-p-h-y...not stenography.

Re:Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778173)

w-t-f?

Re:Umm... (5, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778323)

ssshhh, the "ga" is secretly embedded through steganography

Re:Umm... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778981)

Ohh, and I thought it was just stenography shorthand. Not only secretly embedded, it has plausible deniability too.

Re:Umm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778401)

Perhaps he was dictating.

Re:Umm... (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778469)

No, stenography. Their software can detect files that are written in shorthand. I find that much more plausible than the idea that it can tell strongly encrypted data from noise.

Re:Umm... (2, Funny)

Zapotek (1032314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778569)

Dunno, if the hidden data is 30 column wrapped that could be stenography[1].

Steno = narrow
graphy = writing
Greek /. readers I expect a funny mod up. xD

Re:Umm... (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778617)

Uh, steganography is spelled like this:

I was understanding that we are generally aware of nothing where we are desperate to have fixed, at least not immediately.

Sans the bolds, that is.

That's STEGANOGRAPHY! (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778099)

add a "ga" to every mention of stenography in the summary. Unless he means that encryption uses shorthand.

Re:That's STEGANOGRAPHY! (3, Funny)

wjh31 (1372867) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778181)

compressed and encrypted?

Re:That's STEGANOGRAPHY! (3, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778193)

Our groundbreaking software can detect the presence of SHORTHAND* and allow law-enforcement decryption of this nefarious data-hiding technology!

*Currently can detect Gregg, Pitman, Teeline, and Speedwriting. Also detects the presence of steno pads and stenotype machines.

Re:That's STEGANOGRAPHY! (3, Funny)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778721)

Easy, I'll just encrypt using a one-time steno pad!

Vindicated! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778129)

Or "How I learned that you can't fight information theory".

A few years ago, I recall arguing with someone here on Slashdot about this very issue. My take on it was that stenography could never be completely successful because there would always be a pattern sticking out from the file. The other poster argued that truly encrypted data should be indistinguishable from white noise. I pointed out that a) stenography disrupted the image coloring and therefore should be detectable by looking for irregularities and b) encrypted information (short of a one time pad, which is the only way to get true noise) has an underlying structure in the data operated on. Since the key repeats the transformation for the length of the data, the distribution of the codes cannot be guaranteed.

i.e. Encrypted information will stand out as structured data.

Which only makes sense when you think about it. Information theory doesn't mess around. You cannot destroy information. (The black hole experiments confirmed that.) Thus the structure of the information will remain, no matter how much you try to obscure its existence.

We never reached an agreement, so I guess we'll have to let this article finally settle it. l-)

Re:Vindicated! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778213)

"Steganography." Excuse me. I seem to have repeated an error.

Re:Vindicated! (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778581)

You may be able to convince me that steganographicly hidden could be detected by looking at a compressed image and detecting areas that would not normally be produced by whatever compression algorithm is employed (jpeg, gif, whatever). But that's an entirely different game than looking at a file that's completely white noise and deciding whether or not it's encrypted.

Also, maybe I'm just not deep enough, but I don't understand at all what this has to do with information being destroyed or black holes. This is a matter of information being detected, not destroyed.

Re:Vindicated! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778899)

Also, maybe I'm just not deep enough, but I don't understand at all what this has to do with information being destroyed or black holes. This is a matter of information being detected, not destroyed.

The point I'm making is that in order for the original information to be undetectable, it must be destroyed. Destroying information is the process of making it non-retrievable. i.e. Completely random. Of course, there's no such thing as completely random in our Universe. There's a probabilistic nature to things, but even the "white noise" from, say cosmic radiation, carries information about its origins. It just happens to aggregate well enough to appear completely random. Then some space traveler interested in the origin of an encrypted packet reads the distribution and uses a database of celestial events to fingerprint Sol vs. Sirius.

The point is, the data is there and it is detectable. My opinion is that we're in an arms race to develop methods of making data appear undetectable in the short term, but unless we can destroy the original data (which we can't without making it unrecoverable) the data will always show structure. Or perhaps more to the point, "random" data on a hard drive is of a particular type of unstructured structure. (Whether it be from cosmic rays or a PRNG used to clear it.) We just need to detect the apparently unstructured data that's structured differently. :-P

Re:Vindicated! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779133)

I suppose one other point that's coming out of my rant that I should probably vocalize is that the assumption of "randomness" is an assumption made in a vacuum. If you have nothing else to compare the randomized data against, then the data will be invulnerable to an entropy check. The white elephant is that nothing is truly in a vacuum. One can ask the question, "What does typical 'random' data on a hard drive look like? What does this data look like?" If there is any difference in, say, the distribution of the random values or the entropy of particular values, it can be quite easy to detect the encrypted info.

That I guess is what I'm really getting at. The theory assumes a vacuum. There is no vacuum. (Or spoon for that matter. :-P)

Re:Vindicated! (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778445)

I wouldn't use a slashvertisement as the basis of my argument if I were you.

Re:Vindicated! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778647)

We'll see how far they go with it. If their tool works as well as they claim, it wouldn't be the first time engineering has preceded the scientific theories behind them. Obviously testing the tool helps. If it finds TruCrypt data, that's not a good sign for the theoretical randomness of data. Next interesting question is: How far will TruCrypt be able to go to prevent the tool from detecting data? Will we see an arms race of encryption hiding vs. detection? If so, who will win?

My own feeling is that data smaller than the size of the key may be immune to detection. But larger quantities of data is going to show a pattern. The trick to detection is in understanding how, when, and why that pattern shows up. As I mentioned above, Information Theory already offers a pretty compelling answer for the "why".

Re:Vindicated! (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778745)

If it finds TruCrypt data, that's not a good sign for the theoretical randomness of data.

No, it just means there is a flaw in TruCrypt's implementation.

Re:Vindicated! (1)

Cillian (1003268) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779139)

If you can have/use a larger key than your data, then you can XOR it with a one time pad, which *is* undetectable and unbreakable

Re:Vindicated! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778467)

You feel 'vindicated' by some company's marketing claims?

Re:Vindicated! (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778773)

encrypted information (short of a one time pad, which is the only way to get true noise) has an underlying structure in the data operated on.

The digits of pi have an underlying structure. If you have a way to distinguish an arbitrary stretch of pi from truly random data, I suspect you'll win a Fields Medal.

Re:Vindicated! (1)

pyite (140350) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778783)

i.e. Encrypted information will stand out as structured data.

So you really believe that if I take a non-random stream and encrypt it with AES in CBC with a random key and random IV (both of which I can easily obtain as I can generate 2 * 128 bits of true random data with 256 flips of a fair coin) that you will be able to distinguish the resulting ciphertext from true random data?

I find that, and this company's claims, *highly* unlikely.

Windows Only (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778179)

Won't someone please think of Linus and RMS? *ducks*

No info in the article. It is an advert for some Windows only software.

Repeat, this is an advert, not an article.

Re:Windows Only (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778391)

The advertisement says the software runs on Windows. It doesn't say that it is incapable of scanning non-Windows disks or filesystems.

There are no random files. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778225)

Usually. Consequently, there isn't much to be found.

Benford's law (3, Informative)

tyrr (306852) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778307)

This is probably another application of the Benford's law [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Benford's law (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779027)

Well, not if it is encrypted data. I'm not so certain that you cannot detect AES (CBC) encrypted files, but the leading digit will certainly look like it is randomly distributed - the numbers are certainly not part of a logarithmic scale (which is what seems to drive this "law").

And mods, questions and sentences that have "probable" in them should - in most cases - be modded "interesting", IMHO.

Who Cares? (5, Informative)

DomNF15 (1529309) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778351)

The Wikipedia page on TrueCrypt already indicates that the volumes can pretty much be detected since they are always divisible by 512, it's just impossible to PROVE they are TrueCrypt volumes...

Be enlightened: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TrueCrypt [wikipedia.org]

Re:Who Cares? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778983)

That's just sloppiness, then, if being undetectable is a goal. There's nothing preventing them from adding N pad bytes to the end of the file where N is some random number from 0-511....

Yet another scam (5, Interesting)

trifish (826353) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778531)

Wow, the quality of Slashdot has really been going down lately. Now any random fraud can submit his misleading material and it gets accepted to front page just because it sounds interesting? Is this actually tabloid or serious news for nerds who understand what the talk about?

In short, this is yet another lame attempt to make money by posting bogus claims about a popular product.

First, hidden volumes [truecrypt.org] are the only kind of steganography that TrueCrypt offers. Second, if you read the TrueCrypt documentation, you'll learn the following about hidden volumes vs. dynamic:

On Linux or Mac OS X, if you intend to create a hidden volume within a file-hosted TrueCrypt volume, make sure that the volume is not sparse-file-hosted (the Windows version of TrueCrypt verifies this and disallows creation of hidden volumes within sparse files).

Furthermore, when I try to create a dynamic TrueCrypt volume, TrueCrypt displays a big warning saying that dynamic volumes are insecure. That's right. Insecure.

So again, I demote this story as total and utter bogus motivated by the vision commercial gain.

Re:Yet another scam (1)

trifish (826353) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778619)

And yet another omission on my side:

Dynamic volumes = Sparse-file-hosted volumes

Re:Yet another scam (4, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778881)

I am the poster. I have ZERO connection to the company mentioned I read about because I do computer programming for a law firm.

The article may in fact just be an advertisement, created for commercial gain.

But it was posted because I personally read it and was interested in it.

Stenography, NOT Steganography (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778601)

Think "For your Eyes Only" where the Bond girl says, in reference to the ships log, "{My father} used a special form of short-hand. Only I can read it."

TCHunt for Truecrypt containers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778671)

TCHunt (free tool, you can find it with google) has worked for some time doing this exact thing on Truecrypt encrypted containers.

Actually tried it out last night. It does get false positives, but on my system it did indeed manage to find what it was looking for (total: 4 false positives, 1 true positive).

OK, this is just ... um, scam (1)

trifish (826353) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778805)

It works by detecting hidden patterns that don't exist in a random file.

That would be equal to breaking AES or the mode of operation (XTS).

If they could distinguish the AES-XTS ciphertext from random data, they would be famous in the cryptographic community instantly. However, these fraudsters obviously cannot do anything like that. They are just posting a bunch of lies hoping to earn big money on it.

This makes perfect sense... (1)

offrdbandit (1331649) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778835)

This makes perfect sense. There's always been a way to distinguish between pseudorandom and random value sets. There's also no reason to believe an encryption algorithm could somehow start producing genuinely random values, so it follows that encrypted value sets should be distinguishable form truly random value sets.

I'm calling BS (2, Interesting)

zindorsky (710179) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778903)

I'm pretty familiar with TrueCrypt, but I don't know what a TrueCrypt "Dynamic" file is. Are they just talking about an encrypted virtual volume?

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this is BS. I think they're just doing regular entropy tests on files. That will tell you when you have random data. A good test might be able to distinguish a large amount of compressed data from encrypted data since compressed data does have a little redundancy (emphasis on "might" and "little").

But I guarantee that they are not detecting any redundancy in ciphertext. Detecting even a small amount of redundancy in the output of any modern cipher algorithm (like AES or Twofish) would be a HUGE cryptanalytic result. It would be front page news (in cryptographic circles).

In summary, I'm positive that they can't distinguish between a TrueCrypt volume and true random data.

Put up or shut up.

Re:I'm calling BS (1)

e4m (1424229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779079)

All TC volumes are modulo 512 (very rare) and pass chi-square test (even rarer). Check out TCHunt. It's amazing. http://16systems.com/TCHunt/index.php [16systems.com] It will find *all* of your TrueCrypt volumes. They also disclose how they do it.

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27778965)

...If the "hidden encrypted file" is stored on an encrypted drive? (say a drive that's mounted and decrypted automatically in say an OS like Linux)
Would this software detect the pattern in the "encrypted hidden file" of the underlying encryption of the drive it's stored on?
Could they prove it's an encrypted file rather than a junk file on an encrypted drive?

Reasonable doubt?

Re:How about... (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779005)

Drat! above post is mine! It got marked as Anon by mistake!!

TCHunt Does this very well (2, Informative)

e4m (1424229) | more than 5 years ago | (#27778993)

TCHunt found all of my TrueCrypt volumes. It's free too. http://16systems.com/TCHunt/index.php [16systems.com]

good news for the secretarial pool! (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27779085)

hidden stenographic information can really put a damper on employment prospects for secretaries

who wants to hire stenographers when the stenographic information is already hidden therein?

must be some cutting edge dictation software that actually hides the text in the audio

next you'll be telling me we can do away with typewriters!

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