Vulnerabilities / Threats
12/22/2010
11:38 AM
50%
50%

OpenBSD Founder Believes FBI Built IPsec Backdoor

But Theo de Raadt said it is unlikely that the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet protocol security code made it into the final operating system.

How Firesheep Can Hijack Web Sessions
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: How Firesheep Can Hijack Web Sessions
The OpenBSD project has found two bugs in how OpenBSD, a Unix-like open source operating system, implements Internet protocol security (IPsec).

The bugs are of interest given the recent allegation made by Gregory Perry, former CTO of now-defunct Federal Bureau of Investigation contractor Network Security Technology (NetSec), that the FBI created a backdoor in the OpenBSD code base, specifically in how it implements IPsec. He also alleged that multiple developers involved in contributing code to OpenBSD were on the payroll of NetSec, and that the FBI had hired it to create the backdoors.

Are the bugs a smoking gun? According to Theo de Raadt, the founder and leader of the OpenBSD project, one IPsec bug in OpenBSD relates to a "CBC oracle problem," and was fixed in the software crypto stack by Angelos Keromytis, the architect and primary developer for its IPsec, but ignored in device drivers, overseen by device driver author Jason Wright. Interestingly, both men had worked for NetSec, at different times.

"Neither Jason nor Angelos were working for NetSec at that time, so I think this was just an accident," said de Raadt. "Pretty serious accident."

Here's more information about the vulnerability: According to comments made by Thomas Ptacek, a security researcher at Matasano Security, on Hacker News, the CBC oracle problem refers to an approach to using ciphertext that was found to be insecure, because it used a previously used -- and thus predictable -- ciphertext block to begin encrypting a new message.

Meanwhile, "oracle" refers to "the condition that the server will encrypt a block of plaintext for the attacker, thus revealing the associated ciphertext," he said. But because an attacker could know how the plaintext is set to be encrypted, "that oracle can be used to attack any previous cipherblock."

Technical explanation aside, is this vulnerability exploitable? "This is a neat attack, but also a total pain in the a-- to use, and certainly not an FBI backdoor in OpenBSD IPsec," said Ptacek.

According to de Raadt, "I do not believe that either of these two problems, or other problems not yet spotted, are a result of clear malice. So far the issues we are digging up are a function of the time in history."

But he also said, "I believe that NetSec was probably contracted to write backdoors as alleged. If those were written, I don't believe they made it into our tree. They might have been deployed as their own product."

Regardless, he said that many parts of OpenBSD, including its IPsec implementation, have been getting a fresh look. "I am happy that people are taking the opportunity to audit an important part of the tree which many had assumed -- for far too long -- to be safe as it is."

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
To Be Ready for the Security Future, Pay Attention to the Security Past
Liz Maida, Co-founder, CEO & CTO, Uplevel Security,  9/18/2017
1.9 Billion Data Records Exposed in First Half of 2017
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  9/20/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: Jan, check this out! I found an unhackable PC.
Current Issue
Security Vulnerabilities: The Next Wave
Just when you thought it was safe, researchers have unveiled a new round of IT security flaws. Is your enterprise ready?
Flash Poll
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
Enterprises are spending more of their IT budgets on cybersecurity technology. How do your organization's security plans and strategies compare to what others are doing? Here's an in-depth look.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.