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Researchers have designed a new software that can safeguard data even when the computer is in sleep mode.
The powerful new software — Hypnoguard — was designed to protect “data-in-sleep”.
“Protecting data is especially difficult when a computer goes to sleep, which happens when a laptop’s lid is closed, or after a certain period of user inactivity,” said Lianying Zhao, a doctoral student at Concordia University in Quebec, Canada.
If a computer in this mode falls into the wrong hands, a malicious person can extract the data found in the machine’s random-access memory (RAM) in a number of technical ways, the researchers said. Once installed, Hypnoguard encrypts the computer’s RAM before it enters sleep mode, and then decrypts the data upon waking with hardware-backed uncircumventible user re-authentication.
Hypnoguard was designed by carefully integrating password-based authentication with widely available hardware security features in modern consumer-grade computers, the researchers noted.
“The entire process is transparent to the user, who simply enters a regular ‘unlock’ password when the computer wakes up,” explained Mohammad Mannan, Associate Professor at Concordia University. “There’s almost no impact on usability. For an average computer with eight gigabytes of memory, the process only takes about a second,” Mannan added.
Professionals for whom security is paramount — people like government agents, journalists and businessmen — should benefit the most in terms of protecting secrets in RAM.
“If their computer is lost or stolen, or if they are forced to reveal their password, Hypnoguard will provide that extra layer of protection,” Zhao said. The software was unveiled at the 2016 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security in Vienna, Austria, recently.