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SubjectRe: Encrypted Swap
Eric W. Biederman wrote:
> I'm curious was this embedded system or was it a stock PowerPC. I don't
> know of any off the shelf machines that come with BIOS source code.

It's a custom embedded system. The designers have a few details and a
picture (the BIOS runs on cases 1 and 3) here:

The BIOS code is at

The BIOS is actually scriptable in TCL (Python or Perl wouldn't fit in
the ROM). I'll port the latest version back to the Sandpoint reference
platform soon.

> So the attacker has two way to attack your machine. Attempt to break
> in while it is still running. Put in a minimal boot cd and press
> reset and see how much is recovered. Generally breaking should prove
> the more fruitful course, but the fact that reset preseves all of the
> memory, means it simply is not safe for someone to have physical
> access to your machine while the power is on.

Approximately true. If you have ECC memory then it will have to be
cleared in the BIOS, because of write-back caching. The first time you
write to a memory location, the processor reads in the whole cache line
containing that information. If the memory wasn't cleared, the ECC codes
for the data are wrong, and you get an unrecoverable ECC error
interrupt. What actually happens probably depends on the BIOS version.

Adrian Cox

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