Pwnie Awards 2017

The 2008 Pwnie Award For Most Innovative Research

Lest We Remember: Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys

J. Alex Halderman, Seth Schoen, Nadia Heninger, William Clarkson, William Paul, Joseph Calandrino, Ariel Feldman, Rick Astley, Jacob Appelbaum, Edward Felten

This paper proved that DRAMs used in most modern computers retain memory contents after powering off, including data like passwords and encryption keys, for much longer than most people believed. The authors developed new techniques for recognizing and recovering encryption keys even after some bits have been lost due to memory decay. The impact of the research was demonstrated with software to break the full disk encryption implementations on Windows, OS X and Linux.