Hackers fail to break into Via's StrongBox

Hackers at a security conference in Malaysia failed to break into Via Technologies' StrongBox security application during a competition.

Hackers at a security conference in Malaysia failed to break into Via Technologies's StrongBox security application during a competition, Via officials said last Friday, but the company gathered some valuable feedback from participants.

The Taiwanese microprocessor vendor offered a $US5000 prize to any hacker that could break into StrongBox, which is a secure virtual hard drive of up to 40GB designed to protect data from computer intruders. Announced earlier last week, the application is made using a combination of hardware-based SHA-1 and 256-bit AES encryption.

The company ignored a one-hour time limit rule it had in place for the contest, and allowed conference attendees as much time as they wanted to try to break into StrongBox.

One useful piece of advice Via took away from the show was regarding the password login. The software asks users to choose how many failed password attempts it should accept, with a maximum of five, before freezing a user out for an unspecified period of time.

But one hacker pointed out he could figure out a way to set the number at zero, giving a potential data thief unlimited tries to guess the correct password. Without such a limit, someone could use a custom CD with every word in the dictionary and word/number combinations to find the right password. Such CDs take only a few minutes to run.

Marketing manager at Via, Tim Brown, said the value of the contest was in the feedback and the publicity.

"These are very knowledgeable people, with a unique way of thinking," he said.

Via's contest gambit was risky. Hundreds of hackers had gathered at the Hack in the Box Security Conference to share information and learn more about security. It's the kind of show that attracts participants wearing T-shirts that say "I read your email," and one who boasted it took him just minutes to get the hosting hotel's name and room number list -- which enabled him to get a key to a room that was not his (it was a friend's), and bill hotel Internet usage charges to his friend's room, for fun.

He insisted he would pay the friend back.

The StrongBox security application is designed for computers based on Via's C7 and C7-M processors that have the company's PadLock Security Engine. The company used a new Twinhead laptop, the Efio!12BL, which uses a Via C7-M 1.5GHz mobile processor, for the contest.

StrongBox was developed to showcase the hardware encryption capabilities of the C7 and C7-M processors and to offer a secure means of protecting information stored on a notebook computer in the event of loss or theft, according to the company.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?