Questions tagged [physical]

The use of physical measures (such as locks and tamper-proofing) or policies (such as Clean Desk) in order to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access.

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176
votes
12answers
52k views

How is an ATM secure?

I'm curious why an ATM computer is considered secure. The general adage of "If an attacker has physical access to my machine, all bets are off," seems to not apply in this circumstance (since ...
155
votes
12answers
32k views

4-dial combination padlock: Is it more secure to zero it out or to blindly spin the dials after locking?

I am partially responsible for some resources protected by a 4-dial combination lock like this one: There are two things that people will usually do after they've locked it: reset all the digits to ...
145
votes
8answers
16k views

How should I set up emergency access to business-critical secrets in case I am “hit by a bus”?

I work as the primary developer and IT administrator for a small business. I want to ensure that business can continue even if I suddenly become unavailable for some reason. Much of what I do requires ...
126
votes
5answers
24k views

Is momentary physical access dangerous?

I’m asking the question with these conditions: The device (computer or mobile phone) is in a running state. “Momentary” refers to a reasonably short period of time, such as 5 to 10 seconds. The ...
114
votes
11answers
25k views

What's to stop someone from 3D print cloning a key?

My friend just posted a picture of her key to instagram and it occurred to me that with such a high res photo, the dimensions of the key could easily be worked out. Therefore the key could be ...
109
votes
8answers
20k views

My school wants to keep the details of our door authentication system a secret. Is that a good idea?

So, I am designing a door authentication system (can't really go into more detail) for our school, so that only authenticated persons can go through a certain internal door. They hold that its inner ...
102
votes
19answers
22k views

Defence methods against tailgating

This is a follow-up question to this one: Roles to play when tailgaiting into a residential building How do you protect yourself or your company against tailgaters? What is the best answer when you ...
94
votes
13answers
13k views

Why do we lock our computers?

It's common knowledge that if somebody has physical access to your machine they can do whatever they want with it1. So why do we always lock our computers? If somebody has physical access to my ...
91
votes
3answers
9k views

What is the purpose of the rotating plate in front of the lock?

I am now in Poland and see these everywhere: The plate can rotate freely,when you insert the key, matching the groove, you rotate the key so it is aligned with the lock and then insert the key. What ...
88
votes
9answers
14k views

Secure USB cable for charging in untrusted environments

On a long haul flight, I imagine that charging a phone (in flight mode) with the inbuilt USB port on the head rest would be a security risk. Could I mitigate that risk by taking a regular USB cable ...
83
votes
14answers
11k views

How can I protect myself from false accusations when our company practices password escrow?

During an internship for a small company, my boss created an account for me, so I generated a password and I used it. The next day, my boss told me to write down the password of my account on a piece ...
82
votes
5answers
7k views

Somebody bumped into me, next day my storage unit was burglarized

While I was walking in the street, somebody carrying a laptop bag bumped into me, and the next day I found out that my storage unit was burglarized and some important items were stolen. My storage ...
80
votes
8answers
20k views

How is 'Removing RAM' a security risk?

Today I was watching a video on 'Ethical Hacking' where, while discussing hardware attacks, the narrator said: Removing RAM or components from a desktop or a laptop Here's a screenshot: I ...
80
votes
6answers
12k views

Can a lock picker slowly undermine the security of a deadbolt door?

I have a space for computers secured with a simple deadbolt. Someone keeps coming to pick the lock. While working there, I have scared them away three times. There are cameras, but not in useful ...
68
votes
5answers
22k views

Why is iPhone's internal storage so hard to crack/decrypt?

I’ve heard about a rule in Information Security, that once a hacker has access to your physical machine, then it’s all over. However, there seems to be a big exception to this rule: iPhones. It was ...
66
votes
8answers
51k views

Are powerline ethernet adapters inherently secure?

I have 2 Zyxel PLA407 powerline adapters. Router is downstairs connected to one adapter, other adapter is upstairs about 30 feet away connected to a desktop. I have a house, not an apartment or ...
55
votes
9answers
7k views

Why would security cover things like natural disasters?

I'm taking a course which is designed with the CISSP certification in mind. Though the class is categorized as software engineering, we talked a lot about physical security and, in particular, floods, ...
55
votes
13answers
15k views

Is it possible to turn a computer into a bomb?

I know this newspaper article sounds absurd. Even if a machine is compromised we (should) have hardware safe guards in all our devices to prevent the software from damaging the hardware. But is it ...
52
votes
7answers
11k views

Why does one need a strong password on Unix?

SSH Server: I only allow public key authentication. Malicious Software: If it's running as my user it has access to my data and an internet connection, it's bad enough already. Yes, su access would ...
44
votes
7answers
13k views

How resistant are barcodes and QR-codes against attempts to change stored data?

Assume we want to protect a document against manipulating and forging. So, we encode some sensitive information of the document and store it in a QR-code inserted in the document. Can we be sure that ...
42
votes
9answers
7k views

Is physical security less important with disks on a server being encrypted?

If you could get physical access to a server, you could change the root/admin password even if you did not know the current password. However with encrypted disks, I don't think this is possible (...
41
votes
7answers
13k views

Methods for protecting computer systems from physical attacks

I am interested in cost effective and creative ideas for detecting physical attacks against computer systems. This includes, but is not limited to Tamper Evident security measures. Consider the ...
40
votes
6answers
9k views

How “scrambled” is the data on a RAID5 disk?

My concern is the disposal of a replaced disk from a private RAID5 disk array. I have had to replace a disk from my personal RAID5 disk-array. It had started developing errors, so out it went. But ...
40
votes
4answers
3k views

Evaluating the security of home security cameras

My parents have a vacation home out in the country and are looking to setup a home surveillance system for remote viewing. I've heard that there can be serious vulnerabilities in these products. What ...
37
votes
5answers
4k views

Risk of tampering when hardware shipment is delayed

I am currently receiving an order of computer parts in the mail including an SSD. Tracking showed that the package arrived in my town on day X, and was originally scheduled for delivery on day X as ...
36
votes
7answers
8k views

Is it possible to improve brute-force guessing of a password with a picture of the keyboard used to enter it?

Is it a bad idea to post a photo of your keyboard to social media? Can I look at a photo of a keyboard and determine the password of an account? Assuming a certain (set of) password(s) is the most ...
35
votes
13answers
7k views

Laptop Anti-Theft Measures

A law firm I've been in contact with has recently been broken into 3 times in the past 4 months. In spite of a number of laptops and other equipment containing sensitive information being stolen, the ...
34
votes
7answers
6k views

What are the real physical risks of casual social media publishing?

aka "how to scare my family into stopping publishing their life online?" I do not publish personal photos / opinions publicly online as a rule. I never gave hard thoughts about that but I believe ...
34
votes
5answers
3k views

Are there any guidelines for passwords that need to be read out loud?

I recently saw the movie Olympus Has Fallen. Like in many action movies, at the end a missile is launched, and the hero (Mike Banning, played by Gerard Butler) has 60 seconds to recall the launch in ...
34
votes
3answers
2k views

How can you judge the physical security of a padlock?

I recently learnt to pick locks. Eager to test out my skills, I tried picking a padlock I'd been using on a secure storage box for a number of years, and found that it only had one pin - I can get ...
31
votes
2answers
55k views

Is there any way to tell if CCTV is on or not?

Is there any way that an attacker can identify if a CCTV camera is on/operational without direct physical access to the cable/camera? If it is on, is there any way an attacker can tell if its being ...
31
votes
2answers
104k views

Disabling/Destroying CCTV/IP Cameras with Lasers?

@D3C4FF has asked a great question and I would like to follow up on that. Basically he had asked whether "[...] an attacker can identify if a CCTV camera is on/operational without direct physical ...
31
votes
2answers
6k views

Can a connected USB device read all data from the USB bus?

Is it possible for a (malicious) (hardware) USB device to access all the data that is transferred through the USB bus and then read/store this information, essentially sniffing all transferred data? ...
29
votes
7answers
2k views

Protecting critical state infrastructure from the aftermath of a nuclear blast

Countries rely on computer infrastructure for a huge percentage of communications and military management, as well as utilities like electricity. Unfortunately, nuclear attacks release massive ...
29
votes
7answers
3k views

How to secure a WiFi network?

What do I have to do to secure a WiFi network? Is there any best practices? I have been recommended to use WPA2 encryption on the router, is that enough? What can I do to improve the security even ...
27
votes
13answers
10k views

Is it possible to prevent unauthorized copying or recording of data by photographing screens?

I am thinking on a way which would prevent unauthorized copying or recording of data by photographing screens. I also think, if the content of a screen is understable for an eye of a living human, it ...
26
votes
5answers
4k views

How does a clean desk policy provide security benefits?

I'm starting to study for Security+ using Darril Gibson's book. I took the pre-exam and one of the questions is “What is the most important security benefit of a clean desk policy?” The choices are: ...
25
votes
1answer
19k views

High-frequency noise deterrents

I've found that walking past certain boutique stores in my city that some places have installed very loud high-frequency noise generators. These cause a fair amount of discomfort for passers by that ...
24
votes
7answers
2k views

Securing the security guy's home office: what should we do?

I read an article in the latest InfoSecurity magazine (an infosec trade rag by Elsevier) saying that us security professionals aren't necessarily taking the correct steps to protect our own home ...
24
votes
2answers
6k views

How do Travel Sentry locks work? (supposedly openable only by security agencies)

Apparently Travel Sentry locks can only be opened: by their owner, by the TSA, CATSA and "other security agencies". How do they work technically? Is there some electronics embedded with ...
23
votes
2answers
5k views

Why did the Papal conclave use a Faraday cage in 2013 when selecting the new pope?

The Wikipedia article about Faraday cages has this anecdote: A Faraday cage was used in 2013 by the Vatican to shield the Sistine Chapel from electronic eavesdropping during the secret papal ...
23
votes
5answers
11k views

Does multiple numbers per button have an effect on security?

I recently came across an electronic deadbolt like this: The keys have multiple numbers per button, 1|2, 3|4, 5|6, 7|8, 9|0 Is there any way that this increases the security of the electronic lock? ...
23
votes
4answers
3k views

What are the alternatives to door passcodes?

Passwords have been a problem since the dawn of computing. They tend to be either so complex that no one can remember them, or so obvious that anyone could guess them. ... Some users ...
23
votes
2answers
40k views

What are the advantages and disadvantages of different types of motion sensors?

I understand there are a number of different motion sensor technologies out there, including Active Infrared (AIR), Passive Infrared (PIR), Microwave and Ultrasonic motion sensors. I would like to ...
22
votes
9answers
2k views

What's a good way to trigger a hidden 'distress signal' in instant messaging?

Here's the scenario: Alice and bob use Off-the-record messaging to communicate over IM. The have: Encryption Authentication Deniability Perfect forward secrecy They communicate after authenticating,...
22
votes
3answers
10k views

How can vending machines be hacked? And how can I prevent it?

I am developing a vending machine and want to make it secure. In a comment to my previous question, @Polynomial said "Vending machines (and similar devices) can often be pwned via buffer overflows on ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Securing an area both physically and technically

I work for a commercial printing company, and we're beginning to get a couple jobs labeled "High Security". Essentially this means that if any pictures/information/files/etc. of the product were ...
20
votes
9answers
6k views

Securing a LAN that has multiple exposed external Cat 6 cable runs?

We're evaluating putting in an IP-based CCTV system for a third-party upcoming project (part of a wider networking project). The CCTV system is cabled as follows: Cat 6 running from each external ...
18
votes
9answers
35k views

Is there any virus that can cause physical damage?

Like damaging a chip on the motherboard, increase the fan's speed till something explodes, or anything similar to that. I am not an IT guru, but I never came across a malicious code that couldn't be ...
18
votes
3answers
93k views

Can law enforcement track a criminal through dynamic IP address?

I ask because a week ago my home was broken into and, among other things, my iMac computer was stolen. I am desperate to get it back because it has all the pictures of my daughters from the last ...