Publication Date

Fall 2017

Degree Type

Master's Project


Computer Science


Full disk encryption (FDE) is used to protect a computer system against data theft by physical access. If a laptop or hard disk drive protected with FDE is stolen or lost, the data remains unreadable without the encryption key. To foil this defense, an intruder can gain physical access to a computer system in a so-called “evil maid” attack, install malware in the boot (pre-operating system) environment, and use the malware to intercept the victim’s password. Such an attack relies on the fact that the system is in a vulnerable state before booting into the operating system. In this paper, we discuss an evil maid type of attack, in which the victim’s password is stolen in the boot environment, passed to the macOS user environment, and then exfiltrated from the system to the attacker’s remote command and control server. On a macOS system, this attack has additional implications due to “password forwarding” technology, in which users’ account passwords also serve as FDE passwords.