Perimeter
11/23/2011
11:12 AM
Taher Elgamal
Taher Elgamal
Commentary
50%
50%

Embedding Digital Certificates In Hardware

A natural evolution, but there are a few potential pitfalls to avoid

It was always known that if we chain trust to a known trusted source that the overall trust is improved. Most of the implementations of PKI certificates use some hardware to store the private keys so that forging a signature or obtaining a key is difficult. At this time, the hardware takes the form of hardware security modules (HSMs) in the case of server operations, or a USB device for client machines.

The question is: What if these keys were embedded in the processor itself?

It is only natural for the industry to attempt to combine the trusted hardware into the main processor -- that will enhance the value of the hardware and make strong authentication part of the mainstream industry. The growth of applications that require strong authentication and the growth of e-commerce and other applications that handle sensitive data will perhaps make these feature very important additions to the standard “faster, better, cheaper” way of the growth of the processor industry.

A couple of issues about trust models: First, we should avoid the full flexibility that we did in the browser world since its beginning. A good number of the weaknesses of the current e-commerce environment can be avoided if we prevent “suspect” CAs from being trusted at the root, for example.

Second, we don't want to swing the pendulum the other way completely and create monopolies. Instead, we should embark on designing a good system that will allow us to build this industry correctly. Allowing a trusted CA to be a part of the system should be easy to do, assuming that we know how to revoke a CA key and that revocation checking is a standard part of all operations -- all standard operations.

Recognized in the industry as the "inventor of SSL," Dr. Taher Elgamal led the SSL efforts at Netscape. He also wrote the SSL patent and promoted SSL as the Internet security standard within standard committees and the industry. Dr. Elgamal invented several industry and government standards in data security and digital signatures area, including the DSS government standard for digital signatures. In addition to serving on numerous corporate advisory boards, Dr. Elgamal is the Chief Security Officer at Axway, a global provider of multi-enterprise solutions and infrastructure. He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University. View more of his blog posts here.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-3216
Published: 2015-07-07
Race condition in a certain Red Hat patch to the PRNG lock implementation in the ssleay_rand_bytes function in OpenSSL, as distributed in openssl-1.0.1e-25.el7 in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 and other products, allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (application crash) by establi...

CVE-2014-3653
Published: 2015-07-06
Cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the template preview function in Foreman before 1.6.1 allows remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via a crafted provisioning template.

CVE-2014-5406
Published: 2015-07-06
The Hospira LifeCare PCA Infusion System before 7.0 does not validate network traffic associated with sending a (1) drug library, (2) software update, or (3) configuration change, which allows remote attackers to modify settings or medication data via packets on the (a) TELNET, (b) HTTP, (c) HTTPS, ...

CVE-2014-9737
Published: 2015-07-06
Open redirect vulnerability in the Language Switcher Dropdown module 7.x-1.x before 7.x-1.4 for Drupal allows remote attackers to redirect users to arbitrary web sites and conduct phishing attacks via a URL in a block.

CVE-2014-9738
Published: 2015-07-06
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the Tournament module 7.x-1.x before 7.x-1.2 for Drupal allow remote authenticated users with certain permissions to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via an (1) account username, a (2) node title, or a (3) team entity title.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Marc Spitler, co-author of the Verizon DBIR will share some of the lesser-known but most intriguing tidbits from the massive report