Perimeter
2/8/2012
11:10 PM
Taher Elgamal
Taher Elgamal
Commentary
50%
50%

How Can We Gracefully Update Crypto?

Cryptographic methods at any point in time will become weak at some point due to the advances made in computing

The recently disclosed weakness in the RSA keys found on the Web makes one rethink the strategy of how to use cryptography on a large scale.

In fact, a cryptographic algorithm can become weak or unacceptable at any point in time. What is also true is that all cryptographic methods used in practice at any point in time will become weak at some point in the future due to the advances made in computing over the years.

Since the early days in modern crypto, we knew that we would have to update the methods we use on a regular basis. Unless we use an extremely large size key -- which is not very practical, obviously -- we would need to update symmetric keys from 128- to 256 to higher values, and similarly for asymmetric keys. The experience we had a few years ago with the discovered MD5 weaknesses did not seem to change the way we look at the use of crypto.

Someday we may be able to gracefully increase key sizes without major disruptions, but what happens if an algorithm is known to be weak as was the case with MD5. Can we perhaps use a backup certificate with a different algorithm that is created at the same time and is used when the primary certificate used a weak algorithm?

Maybe someday.

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. He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University.

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-2012-2808
Published: 2015-04-01
The PRNG implementation in the DNS resolver in Bionic in Android before 4.1.1 incorrectly uses time and PID information during the generation of random numbers for query ID values and UDP source ports, which makes it easier for remote attackers to spoof DNS responses by guessing these numbers, a rel...

CVE-2014-9713
Published: 2015-04-01
The default slapd configuration in the Debian openldap package 2.4.23-3 through 2.4.39-1.1 allows remote authenticated users to modify the user's permissions and other user attributes via unspecified vectors.

CVE-2015-0259
Published: 2015-04-01
OpenStack Compute (Nova) before 2014.1.4, 2014.2.x before 2014.2.3, and kilo before kilo-3 does not validate the origin of websocket requests, which allows remote attackers to hijack the authentication of users for access to consoles via a crafted webpage.

CVE-2015-0800
Published: 2015-04-01
The PRNG implementation in the DNS resolver in Mozilla Firefox (aka Fennec) before 37.0 on Android does not properly generate random numbers for query ID values and UDP source ports, which makes it easier for remote attackers to spoof DNS responses by guessing these numbers, a related issue to CVE-2...

CVE-2015-0801
Published: 2015-04-01
Mozilla Firefox before 37.0, Firefox ESR 31.x before 31.6, and Thunderbird before 31.6 allow remote attackers to bypass the Same Origin Policy and execute arbitrary JavaScript code with chrome privileges via vectors involving anchor navigation, a similar issue to CVE-2015-0818.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Good hackers--aka security researchers--are worried about the possible legal and professional ramifications of President Obama's new proposed crackdown on cyber criminals.