The physical memory of computers can be imaged and analyzed using a variety of tools. Because the procedure for accessing physical memory varies between operating systems, these tools are listed by operating system.
- A version of dd by George Garner allows an Administrator user to image memory using the \device\physicalmemory object. Userland access to this object is denied starting in Windows 2003 Service Pack 1 and Windows Vista. This program cannot be used on Windows 2003 SP1 and above.
- hibernation files
- Windows 98, 2000, XP, 2003, and Vista support a feature called hibernation that saves the machine's state to the disk when the computer is powered off. When the machine is turned on again, the state is restored and the user can return to the exact point where they left off. The machine's state, including a compressed image of physical memory, is written to the disk on the System drive, usually C:, as hiberfil.sys. This file can be parsed and decompressed to obtain the memory image.
At CanSec West 05, Michael Becher, Maximillian Dornseif, and Christian N. Klein discussed an exploit which uses DMA to read arbitrary memory locations of a firewire-enabled system. The paper lists more details. The exploit is run on an iPod running Linux. This can be used to grab screen contents.
In theory, this could be used with the ... to send through an exploit code that would cause the system to dump the contents of its hard drive back to the iPod.