Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 28th Jul 2017 19:44 UTC

In the last year while talking to respected security-focused engineers & developers, I've come to fully appreciate Google's Chrome OS design. The architecture benefited from a modern view of threat modeling and real-world attacks. For example, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) hardware chips are built into every Chromebook and deeply incorporated into the OS. The design documents go into some detail on the specific protections that TPM provides, particularly around critical encryption functions.

I also learned that Chromebook is the daily driver for many of Google's own senior developers and security engineers. In short, the combination of the underlying Chromebook hardware with the OS architecture makes for a pretty compelling secure development environment.


It's pretty neat to consider the possibility of pre-travel "power washing" (resetting everything clean to factory settings) on an inexpensive Chromebook and later securely restore over the air once at my destination. Since there is a wide range in Chromebook prices, the engineering challenge here was to find something powerful enough to comfortably use exclusively for several days of coding, writing, and presenting, but also cheap enough that should it get lost/stolen/damaged, I wouldn't lose too much sleep. The threat model here does not include recovery from physical tampering; if the machine were somehow confiscated or otherwise out of my custody, I could treat it as a burner and move on.

Interesting guide on how to turn an inexpensive Chromebook into a burner developer device safe for international travel.

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RE[2]: Practical tutorial
by BlueofRainbow on Sat 29th Jul 2017 14:31 UTC in reply to "RE: Practical tutorial"
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Good points.

With respect to a "rental chromebook", and from the renter's point of view, how the security model would be different than for the chromebooks currently in schools and shared by the students?

From the user's view point, any interchange of information over the cloud/network could potentially be intercepted and un-encrypted. And, unless there are back-doors in Chrome OS, the risk of the operating system having been tempered should be low.

Rental units could have a hardware "wipe" button. A security conscious user would engage this hardware wipe after receiving the unit and before returning it. The rental company would have, in theory, protocols for doing the same.

Another approach might be the possibility to purchase "travel chromebooks" in the secure area of airport. This would allow use during the outgoing flight and at the destination. However, what to do with the unit for the return trip without being wasteful?

As for wifi interruptions, Chrome OS could conceivably implement a local work space with automatic synchronization to the cloud whenever in range with a wifi connection of sufficient bandwith to have a high probability of doing it properly.

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