Perimeter
10/18/2011
10:01 PM
Taher Elgamal
Taher Elgamal
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

On Trusting Certificate Authorities

The time has come for a way to vet CAs by reputation

I get questions almost daily about the weaknesses of the certificate authorities (CAs) that are today “trusted” in every browser. The decision we made years ago to use PKI as the cornerstone for security in SSL and the early Web is under attack because of the poor practices of some CAs and the fact that we could not tell or remove these from our trusted lists without patching the browsers.

We knew since the beginning that the trust model in browsers is not sufficient. Almost every online business now has some reputation elements that the Internet can help establish and inform the users. It is ironic that the businesses that are the core of the trust of the entire e-commerce world lack any reputation support.

It could be time for some Internet entity to start to collect reputation data on CAs, and serve users and other entities in that regard. As long as root keys are hard-coded into browsers, we are not able to revoke CAs, which is obviously a missing component of any PKI system. So, in the meantime, can we at least help the community?

Eventually, PKI implementations in browsers need to be revisited. Browser vendors are, in fact, the root of trust, regardless of opinions and business practices. And as such, it would have been so much easier for the browser to sign CA root keys instead of just hard-coding.

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
Partner Perspectives
In a digital world inundated with advanced security threats, Intel Security seeks to transform how we live and work to keep our information secure. Through hardware and software development, Intel Security delivers robust solutions that integrate security into every layer of every digital device. In combining the security expertise of McAfee with the innovation, performance, and trust of Intel, this vision becomes a reality.

As we rely on technology to enhance our everyday and business life, we must too consider the security of the intellectual property and confidential data that is housed on these devices. As we increase the number of devices we use, we increase the number of gateways and opportunity for security threats. Intel Security takes the “security connected” approach to ensure that every device is secure, and that all security solutions are seamlessly integrated.
Featured Writers
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Dark Reading's October Tech Digest
Fast data analysis can stymie attacks and strengthen enterprise security. Does your team have the data smarts?
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-2014-3366
Published: 2014-10-31
SQL injection vulnerability in the administrative web interface in Cisco Unified Communications Manager allows remote authenticated users to execute arbitrary SQL commands via a crafted response, aka Bug ID CSCup88089.

CVE-2014-3372
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the CCM reports interface in the Server in Cisco Unified Communications Manager allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified parameters, aka Bug ID CSCuq90589.

CVE-2014-3373
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the CCM Dialed Number Analyzer interface in the Server in Cisco Unified Communications Manager allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified parameters, aka Bug ID CSCup92550.

CVE-2014-3374
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the CCM admin interface in the Server in Cisco Unified Communications Manager allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified parameters, aka Bug ID CSCuq90582.

CVE-2014-3375
Published: 2014-10-31
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in the CCM Service interface in the Server in Cisco Unified Communications Manager allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified parameters, aka Bug ID CSCuq90597.

Best of the Web
Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Follow Dark Reading editors into the field as they talk with noted experts from the security world.