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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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180 votes
12 answers
55k 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 ...
asteri's user avatar
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156 votes
12 answers
36k 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 ...
Peter Schilling's user avatar
146 votes
8 answers
17k 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 ...
AndrewSwerlick's user avatar
131 votes
5 answers
27k 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 ...
tonychow0929's user avatar
  • 2,257
131 votes
2 answers
24k views

What to do if caught in a physical pentest?

I've seen a lot of people talk about how to pentest and how NOT to get caught during engagements but have a hard time finding "How to behave when caught during a Red Team engagement". Red Teams are ...
ChocolateOverflow's user avatar
120 votes
11 answers
27k 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 ...
personjerry's user avatar
  • 1,246
110 votes
8 answers
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 ...
Christopher King's user avatar
106 votes
19 answers
24k 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 ...
Lithilion's user avatar
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99 votes
13 answers
15k 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 ...
Tom Marthenal's user avatar
94 votes
3 answers
11k 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 ...
Thomas's user avatar
  • 831
89 votes
9 answers
16k 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 ...
DarcyThomas's user avatar
  • 1,298
85 votes
5 answers
8k 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 ...
Green Fly's user avatar
  • 1,987
84 votes
14 answers
12k 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 ...
malloc's user avatar
  • 854
80 votes
8 answers
21k 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 ...
undo's user avatar
  • 2,125
80 votes
6 answers
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 ...
Village's user avatar
  • 863
73 votes
8 answers
71k 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 ...
v15's user avatar
  • 1,771
66 votes
5 answers
23k 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 ...
Melkor's user avatar
  • 1,295
62 votes
15 answers
20k views

Emergency method to erase all data off a machine within seconds

Imagine you are carrying highly sensitive information with you, maybe on a mission in a war zone. You get in an ambush and quickly need to erase all the files before they fall in the wrong hands. This ...
user avatar
55 votes
9 answers
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, ...
Celeritas's user avatar
  • 10.2k
55 votes
13 answers
19k 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 ...
rook's user avatar
  • 47.3k
54 votes
11 answers
11k views

Why did they stop adding physical "write protect" mechanism?

Floppy disks used to have a physical means of preventing writing to them. No software could bypass that, no matter what. It had to be flicked physically and manually by a human being. Modern SD cards ...
Polnow's user avatar
  • 549
52 votes
6 answers
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 ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 819
47 votes
7 answers
16k 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 ...
Questioner's user avatar
  • 1,317
44 votes
7 answers
17k 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 ...
rook's user avatar
  • 47.3k
42 votes
9 answers
8k 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 (...
user93353's user avatar
  • 2,052
41 votes
3 answers
8k views

Why are my plastic credit card and activation code sent separately?

Capital One recently sent my plastic credit card by post mail and its activation code by a separate post mail. What security problem does this mitigate? If a rogue element has access to my mail box ...
Lord Loh.'s user avatar
  • 549
41 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
mercurial's user avatar
  • 918
40 votes
6 answers
10k 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 ...
Mausy5043's user avatar
  • 511
38 votes
5 answers
5k 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 ...
Eric Johnson's user avatar
36 votes
14 answers
8k 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 ...
Mike H's user avatar
  • 477
36 votes
7 answers
9k 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 ...
formicophobia's user avatar
36 votes
5 answers
4k 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 ...
Lea Cohen's user avatar
  • 479
35 votes
2 answers
114k 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 ...
Lex's user avatar
  • 4,277
35 votes
3 answers
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 ...
Polynomial's user avatar
  • 135k
34 votes
7 answers
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 ...
WoJ's user avatar
  • 9,068
34 votes
2 answers
8k 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? ...
user1049697's user avatar
  • 1,147
32 votes
2 answers
56k 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 ...
NULLZ's user avatar
  • 11.5k
32 votes
1 answer
5k views

How to deal with third parties in physical pentests?

From my previous question, I've seen that a "Permission to Attack" slip is crucial in ANY Penetration Test. However, that question and its answers and comments have only discusses interactions between ...
ChocolateOverflow's user avatar
31 votes
7 answers
4k 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 ...
Jonas's user avatar
  • 5,223
30 votes
7 answers
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 ...
Polynomial's user avatar
  • 135k
27 votes
13 answers
14k 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 ...
peterh's user avatar
  • 3,030
25 votes
5 answers
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: ...
user avatar
25 votes
1 answer
25k 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 ...
NULLZ's user avatar
  • 11.5k
24 votes
2 answers
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 ...
Vayeate's user avatar
  • 383
24 votes
7 answers
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 ...
user avatar
24 votes
6 answers
29k 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? ...
Wayne Werner's user avatar
  • 1,835
24 votes
2 answers
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 ...
Nicolas Raoul's user avatar
24 votes
2 answers
42k 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 ...
NULLZ's user avatar
  • 11.5k
23 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
storm's user avatar
  • 1,742
22 votes
9 answers
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,...
Stefano Palazzo's user avatar

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