[ISN] Points of attack for IBMs 'smart' laptop ID tags

From: mea culpa (jerichoat_private)
Date: Sat Jan 30 1999 - 11:36:53 PST

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    Reply From: "John Kozubik" <john_kozubikat_private>
    Here is the problem I see with the new IBM 'smart' ID tags for laptops: 
    I was at a conference a few months ago for investment bankers in the
    security industry, and IBM did a nice dog and pony for us concerning the
    asset tracking ID stuff ... pretty interesting, but I brought up some
    questions that IBM did not really have an answer to. 
    1. The signal traveling from the threshold of the building that will turn
    off wayward laptops on their way out of the building is _not_ encrypted,
    therefore, if you intercept that signal and re-apply it elsewhere to
    machines in the field, you now have the ability to apply a DoS attack to
    these laptops in the field.  The IBM representative verfified that this is
    indeed 'theoretically' possible. 
    2. There is 256 bytes of user definable data in the laptop itself, which,
    depending on the implementation of IBMs product you use, _can_ be
    broadcast out from the laptop.  The point of this is so that as the laptop
    leaves the building, it can tell the threshold "hi, I am this laptop, I am
    leaving now".  This is all fine and good, but this data is not encrypted
    either - which means that in potentially hostile situations (heads of
    state, high powered execs who have a danger of being kidnapped for ransom,
    etc.) the laptop is now sending out a "hey, over here, it's me!" message
    to all who might be listening, in clear format (not encrypted). 
    These are two major drawbacks I saw to the system.  #2 might be a little
    nit-picky, but number one (DoS) is definitely a problem. 
    kozubik - John Kozubik - john_kozubikat_private
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