TPM Sniffing

TL;DR: we reproduced Denis Andzakovic’s proof-of-conception exhibiting that it is miles ability to read and write data from a BitLocker-safe instrument (as an instance, a stolen laptop) by sniffing the TPM key from the LCP bus.

Authors: Thomas Dewaele & Julien Oberson

Particular thanks to Denis Andzakovic for his proof-of-conception and Joe Gigantic (@joegrand) for his hardware hacking teachings at Insomni’hack 2018.


Bitlocker is the Plump Disk Encryption (FDE) resolution offered by Microsoft for its Home windows working techniques beginning with Home windows Vista to present protection to customers’ data at relaxation. The resolution provides loads of configurations including several ways to retailer the decryption key. The commonest configuration consists in storing the Quantity Master Key (VMK) all around the Relied on Platform Module (TPM) that is embedded in most standard computer techniques.

This setup is attention-grabbing since the decryption is solely transparent to the user. This earnings surpasses others since many corporations are reluctant to configure an extra password/PIN for the user to boot its computer. The shrink back is that it opens the door to several assaults including the TPM sniffing described in this publish however additionally DMA or Frigid Boot assaults.

Beneath the hood, the TPM checks loads of machine properties throughout the startup to make positive the boot sequence has no longer been altered. If the validation succeeds, the VMK is released and transmitted to the CPU which could maybe well birth to decrypt the disk and to load the working machine.

Looking on the hardware, the TPM could maybe well successfully be linked to the motherboard with several verbal exchange channels including LPC, I2C or SPI. These buses share a same old property, namely a low transmission plug (the clock is mostly round 25Mhz). Right here’s no longer a situation for the resolution because ideally suited a restricted quantity of data has to be transmitted however it completely makes channel sniffing more uncomplicated since required hardware is cheap.

Discovering the TPM

Step one to construct this assault is to discover the ideally suited feature to probe. In point of fact, the positioning varies reckoning on every motherboard. In our case, the take a look at topic became as soon as a Lenovo ThinkPad L440.

The ideally suited plot to rep the verbal exchange bus is whenever you occur to could maybe well additionally create the motherboard schematics, however we could maybe well ideally suited rep one web page that had the schematics for the L440, and it seemed a minute dodgy.

Paying for motherboard schematics by project of Western Union: seems legit.

As an alternate, we determined to head the manual plot and started our toddle by locating the TPM chip. These chips incessantly advance in TSSOP28 or VQFN32 programs. We stumbled on a TSSOP28 chip labeled P24JPVSP under the trackpad and Google regarded as if it would repeat that it is miles linked to TPM:

TPM chip (backside-correct) and debug pads (top-left).

As evidenced by the emblem, the chip is made by ST Microelectronics, however the reference P24JPVSP became as soon as no longer stumbled on on After some expert guesses and some extra Google searches, we arrived to the conclusion that it is miles doubtlessly fair like the ST33TPM12LPC chip which depends on LPC for communications. Right here is the pinout from the data sheet:

ST33TPM12LPC pinout.

In repeat to retrieve the LPC frames, now we have to probe the next 6 signals (+ floor):

Descriptions of the desired signals to decode LPC frames.
  • LAD0, LAD1, LAD2 and LAD3 are the 4 bits bus the set apart data is in actuality exchanged to and from the chip
  • The physique sign is broken-all the manner down to repeat when particular particular person LPC frames birth or stay
  • The clock sign is good a cyclic tic at a constant frequency (in our case 25 MHz) that is broken-all the manner down to synchronize your total assorted signals

Now, if (1) you in discovering the precise equipment and (2) you’re confident on your micro-soldering talents, that you must also solder wires at as soon as on these pins to set the probes, however the house between every pin is ideally suited 0.65 millimeters (for our metrically impaired readers, right here is 0.4 millionths of a mile). We did no longer meet several of these two requirements.

Happily, it is no longer abnormal to rep extra convenient locations on the board which will more than seemingly be linked to these pins. As that you must also set apart a question to within the image above, there are 6 pads at as soon as next to the chip, and also that you must also conform to the traces to in discovering the next pinout:

  1        2        3        4        5        6
LAD0     LAD1    LFRAME    LAD2     LAD3     LRESET

Unfortunately, the LCLK sign is missing! It sounds as if the ticket going to this pin is coming from the assorted side of the motherboard. On the backside side, right here is positioned under the WiFi module, and it became as soon as within the origin lined by shadowy tape:

Surprise! The LPC debug pads were making an strive to conceal, however we caught them without warning (therefore the blurry image).

We were elated to sight these (pretty) big LPC debug pads, which implies that no longer ideally suited we could maybe well additionally fair mild discover a extra effective time soldering probes there, however additionally we are capable of construct the assault by precise putting off the backside panel with out the have to disassemble the full laptop and keyboard assembly.

Using a multimeter in continuity mode, we positive the pinout of these pads (which became as soon as a minute acrobatic for the rationale that chip is on the assorted side of the board). Unfortunately, we were mild missing LCLK, and one in every of the pads did no longer appear to be linked to something else. We thought that this became as soon as too big a accident and completely this unknown pad became as soon as in actuality LCLK, rather than the circuit is going thru some resistors between the pad and the pin.

At this point, we could maybe well in discovering doubtlessly YOLO’ed it and hoped that our assumption became as soon as precise, however we thought that we could in actuality try to make a choice the motherboard schematics from the abnormal web page mentioned within the beginning.

We paid the $20 over PayPal, fully staring at for to in discovering scammed, however 15 minutes later, we purchased an email from a GMail take care of with some .rar archives containing the BoardView file and application. Naturally, we opened the archives and ran the application on our production enviornment controller, and it became as soon as in actuality legit! We could maybe well verify that the thriller debug pad became as soon as indeed the LPC clock going thru some resistors and thru a BGA mounted chip (we would in discovering had a advanced time doing continuity checks under there!)

Retracing the LCLK sign aid to the LPC debug pads.

Below is the pinout of the LPC debug pads, and we finally in discovering your total required signals. We additionally observed, on account of the schematics, that the clock sign route from the chip to the debug pad became as soon as no longer complete and we needed to kind a soldering bridge to link them (cf. resistor R1806).

LCLK sign on the LPC debug pads and in discovering of the bridge (R1806).
Soldering bridge to link the clock sign between the chip and the debug pad.

Hooking up a sniffer

After discovering the ideally suited pickle to probe, we soldered some wires to the LPC debug pads in repeat to easily hook the sniffer.

From left to correct: LDA[0:3], LFRAME, LCLK, and floor.

We started by connecting a MSO 19.2 logical analyzer in repeat to stare the site visitors. In accordance with the manufacturer’s data sheet, the LA buffer is no longer big ample to utilize the full beginning sequence so the instrument became as soon as ideally suited broken-all the manner down to take a look at that data were properly retrieved. By doing so, we were ready to verify that the sign shape matched LPC site visitors.

LPC ticket with CLK sign in white, FRAME sign in purple and DATA[0:3] on channels 3,4,5,6.

In repeat to avoid the buffer limitation, we broken-down an FPGA-basically based mostly instrument produced by Lattice Semiconductor namely the iCEstick40. Right here’s the same hardware that Denis Andzakovic broken-down for the TPM 2.0 sniffing try (rather than ours is enclosed in a love-dwelling-3D-printed box!)

We linked the sniffer in accordance with the pinout specified within the LPC sniffer Github repository utilizing probe clamps to the beforehand soldered wires. The clamps ensured an actual connection with the soldered wires however the connection to the sniffer module became as soon as much less loyal. In repeat to reduce movements and therefore limit contact points, the plugs were tightened by compressing the lower piece of the metal connector.

Sniffer hooking utilizing probe clamps (1).
Sniffer hooking utilizing probe clamps (2).
Probe connections to the sniffer; End-up on the box.
VCC 3.3|NC 1
GND        2
lpc_clock  3
lpc_ad[0]  4
lpc_ad[1]  5
lpc_ad[2]  6
lpc_ad[3]  7
lpc_frame  8
lpc_reset  9

Knowledge acquisition

The data acquisition became as soon as performed utilizing a modified version of the LPC Sniffer. The firmware became as soon as modified by Denis Andzakovic to build buffer storage and therefore lengthen overflow by ideally suited recording TPM-linked addresses 0x00000024.

After flashing the instrument, the python script could maybe well successfully be broken-all the manner down to retrieve the LPC frames. The following repeat is executed on the sniffing computer, then the target laptop became as soon as turned on in repeat to let the TPM check PCR registers, birth the VMK and transmit it over the LPC bus.

As depicted within the output under, ideally suited the frames that starts with 24 are recorded within the output log file.

$ sudo python3 parse/ /dev/ttyUSB1 | tee log1

As soon as the boot sequence is done the script is stopped. The easy data were processed to utilize the physique header and ideally suited aid the explicit data. Then the grep repeat is broken-all the manner down to extract the VMK header followed by the vital (32 following hexadecimal characters) as proven under.

$ gash again -f 2 -d' log6 | grep '24..00$' | perl -pe 's/.{8}(..)..n/$1/' | grep -Po "2c0000000100000003200000(..){32}"

Essentially the most most significant values observed on the bus were no longer precisely the same every time. This behavior is doubtlessly linked to the sniffer connection which is some distance from glorious even after the socket tightening session. Because the transmission errors occur randomly, it became as soon as pretty straightforward to title them by comparing multiple measurements. The table under illustrates the values purchased throughout four boots.

Just a few sniffed data comparison and closing key within the ideally suited column.

Disk decryption

With the decryption key in hand, it became as soon as that you must also contemplate of to decrypt the native disk on account of dislocker. The last version of the application at the time of writing is 0.7.2 and it supports the --vmk option which permits to at as soon as specify the VMK with out having to reconstruct the FVEK. The VMK has to be positioned in a binary file as proven under.

$ hexdump -C vmk
00000000  5a f9 49 09 16 01 3a 0b  c1 27 b3 30 1d 41 50 8c  
00000010  4a f8 ab b8 58 3d e5 e4  c6 0b bb ab cf advert 8a 3a
$ sudo dislocker -v -V /dev/sdb3 --vmk vmk -- /media/bl
$ sudo mount -o ro,loop /media/bl/dislocker-file /media/blm
$ ls /media/blm
'$RECYCLE.BIN'             ESD            pagefile.sys    'Program Recordsdata (x86)'         Customers
'$SysReset'                hiberfil.sys   PerfLogs         Restoration                     Home windows
 Chocolatey                set up        ProgramData      swapfile.sys
'Paperwork and Settings'   Intel         'Program Recordsdata'  'Machine Quantity Knowledge'

At this point it will more than seemingly be that you must also contemplate of to avoid solely the Bitlocker security and customarily :

  • entry and tamper any kept file;
  • hang the native password database including;
    • native accounts within the SAM hive
    • the last ten enviornment linked customers on account of MSCACHE
  • backdoor the machine with a malware


To summarize, we were ready to retrieve the Bitlocker key in a pair of days with a 49$ FPGA module by ideally suited utilizing tools readily accessible in DIY stores and, cherry on the cake, with out breaking the computer. The operation became as soon as more uncomplicated than expected especially brooding about it became as soon as our first hardware assault and that many corporations rely on a TPM-ideally suited configuration.

In point of fact none of this would in discovering been that you must also contemplate of (as a minimum no longer within the form of immediate time) with out the work of many replacement security researchers that stumbled on the sing, wrote papers and published their tools.

The motherboard schematics became as soon as a big wait on in discovering the mapping of the debug pads. It is some distance, nonetheless, crucial to spotlight that better soldering talents would in discovering allowed attaching connections at as soon as on the TPM chip itself thus making needless to ticket the connections.


In repeat to set remote from being targeted by the TPM sniffing assault, the very top plot will more than seemingly be to configure Bitlocker to use an extra pre-boot authentication part enjoy a PIN. Some assorted components enjoy USB devices or smartcards would additionally work however are in total regarded as much less convenient for the user. In point of fact this configuration commerce implies that customers must enter an extra fragment of data when to computer boots.

The no longer too long ago released Home windows 11 OS requires the use of a TPM 2.0 chip which became as soon as designed to present encrypted communications. This prerequisite could maybe well originate the door to an actual plot of securing the transmission with out requiring the user from including a 2d authentication part. Level to, nonetheless, that this commerce would technically prevent TPM sniffing however no longer assorted physical assaults.

Further cramped print regarding Bitlocker countermeasures can additionally be stumbled on on a genuine Microsoft publish.


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