Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

8/3/2009
03:56 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

New SSL Attacks Don't Change Your Web Risk

There's been a a lot of talk about SSL security since last week's Black Hat conference. While these attacks are significant, I don't see them as changing the security posture of the Web.

There's been a a lot of talk about SSL security since last week's Black Hat conference. While these attacks are significant, I don't see them as changing the security posture of the Web.At the Black Hat security conference last week, Dan Kaminsky, director of penetration testing for IOActive pointed out, once again, that the X.509 certificates used in SSL encryption and authentication too often rely on vulnerable MD2 cryptographic hash functions. Also, security researcher Moxie Marlinspike revealed how attackers can spoof SSL certificates by including a "null" string character inside the certificate field, which then tricks the users' Web browser into accepting the attacker's code.

According to Marlinspike, it's not the SSL protocol that's the problem, it's how so many site implementations of SSL that are insecure. This includes many of the major banks, email systems, social networking sites, and more. Even most software update mechanisms.

One of the concerning aspects of Marlinspike's research, just isn't how banks, email systems, or social network sites are running vulnerable implementations of SSL -- it's that software update systems are doing the same. This needs to be a trusted process. As most users have their systems set for automatic updates, and if a malicious someone were able to spoof the connection then malware could be easily sent to the system, rather than a patch. The solution for this is simple: software makers need to digitally sign their updates.

When it comes to the weak X.509 certificates we've known about this for some time, and the industry is moving away from MD2 hashes.

Second, regarding Marlinspike, one needs to understand that SSL merely creates the secure tunnel between your system and whatever web site you're interacting - and does nothing for the security of your end point or the Web site itself. That means most any SSL attack that would result from this flaw would be a man-in-the middle attack where the bad guy would capture traffic flowing between your PC and the Web site.

Unfortunately, the Web sites you're connecting to are already wide open and vulnerable, and has been pointed out many times. Same is true for most end user systems. It's just easier to drop malware on Web sites that will infect systems, and then capture that data, or infect end points directly -- than it is to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks. So, while interesting, and serious, and a hole that needs to be plugged, it's simply another hole in the hull of a ship already taking considerable water.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Oldest First  |  Newest First  |  Threaded View
When It Comes To Security Tools, More Isn't More
Lamont Orange, Chief Information Security Officer at Netskope,  1/11/2021
US Capitol Attack a Wake-up Call for the Integration of Physical & IT Security
Seth Rosenblatt, Contributing Writer,  1/11/2021
IoT Vendor Ubiquiti Suffers Data Breach
Dark Reading Staff 1/11/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2020: The Year in Security
Download this Tech Digest for a look at the biggest security stories that - so far - have shaped a very strange and stressful year.
Flash Poll
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
COVID-19 has created a new IT paradigm in the enterprise -- and a new level of cybersecurity risk. This report offers a look at how enterprises are assessing and managing cyber-risk under the new normal.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-15864
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-17
An issue was discovered in Quali CloudShell 9.3. An XSS vulnerability in the login page allows an attacker to craft a URL, with a constructor.constructor substring in the username field, that executes a payload when the user visits the /Account/Login page.
CVE-2021-3113
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-17
Netsia SEBA+ through 0.16.1 build 70-e669dcd7 allows remote attackers to discover session cookies via a direct /session/list/allActiveSession request. For example, the attacker can discover the admin's cookie if the admin account happens to be logged in when the allActiveSession request occurs, and ...
CVE-2020-25533
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-15
An issue was discovered in Malwarebytes before 4.0 on macOS. A malicious application was able to perform a privileged action within the Malwarebytes launch daemon. The privileged service improperly validated XPC connections by relying on the PID instead of the audit token. An attacker can construct ...
CVE-2021-3162
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-15
Docker Desktop Community before 2.5.0.0 on macOS mishandles certificate checking, leading to local privilege escalation.
CVE-2021-21242
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-15
OneDev is an all-in-one devops platform. In OneDev before version 4.0.3, there is a critical vulnerability which can lead to pre-auth remote code execution. AttachmentUploadServlet deserializes untrusted data from the `Attachment-Support` header. This Servlet does not enforce any authentication or a...