Defeating Encrypted and Deniable File Systems: TrueCrypt v5.1a and the Case of the Tattling OS and Applications

A. Czeskis, D. J. St. Hilaire, K. Koscher, S. D. Gribble, T. Kohno, and B. Schneier

3rd Usenix Workshop on Hot Topics in Security, to appear.

ABSTRACT: We examine the security requirements for creating a Deniable File System (DFS), and the efficacy with which the TrueCrypt disk-encryption software meets those requirements. We find that the Windows Vista operating system itself, Microsoft Word, and Google Desktop all compromise the deniability of a TrueCrypt DFS. While staged in the context of TrueCrypt, our research highlights several fundamental challenges to the creation and use of any DFS: even when the file system may be deniable in the pure, mathematical sense, we find that the environment surrounding that file system can undermine its deniability, as well as its contents. Finally, we suggest approaches for overcoming these challenges on modern operating systems like Windows.

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