Thursday, May 3, 2018

iMac Pro and Secure Storage

Pepijn Bruienne (via Hacker News):

Given all of these changes, we wanted to explore how the T2 coprocessor was being used by Apple and how it currently fits into the larger system security model, as well as how this may evolve in the future. What follows is the first part of this exploration where we describe how the T2 coprocessor is used to implement Secure Boot on the iMac Pro, as well as comparing and contrasting this Secure Boot approach to those that have been present in Apple’s iDevices for a number of years.


The unique pairing here provides some very important security properties that prevent the memory chips that comprise the SSD itself from being physically removed from the system and connected to a different system, or from having their contents extracted from the chips and flashed onto SSD chips in another system. Apple states in further detail the way in which the T2 coprocessor and the SSD chips are uniquely bound together to provide these protections when the SSD chips are first initialized[…]


We believe that, with the introduction of always-on disk encryption in the iMac Pro, the FileVault activation process is now essentially identical to how a passcode protects an iOS device. When enabled, the user’s passphrase is entangled with the device’s hardware UID and used to create further derived keys that are used to encrypt and decrypt.

Previously: The T2 Chip Makes the iMac Pro the Start of a Mac Revolution, The iMac Pro.

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