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.

Perimeter

7/30/2009
12:26 PM
Sara Peters
Sara Peters
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Black Hat, Day One: Rationalizing And Reinforcing My Pessimistic World View

When I arrived in Las Vegas, I already smoldered and grumbled about the facts that online trust mechanisms are untrustworthy, and that browsers' fundamental weaknesses persist despite the fact that better browsers would make an incalculable impact on overall Web security. Yesterday's sessions simply added more kindling to the fire.

When I arrived in Las Vegas, I already smoldered and grumbled about the facts that online trust mechanisms are untrustworthy, and that browsers' fundamental weaknesses persist despite the fact that better browsers would make an incalculable impact on overall Web security. Yesterday's sessions simply added more kindling to the fire.The charmingly dreadlocked Moxie Marlinspike delivered a fascinating presentation in which he showed us four new ways his SSL Sniff and SSL Strip tools could be suped up to make SSL certificates less trustworthy than ever.

Several months ago Marlinspike created SSL Strip, a tool that exploits a Web vulnerability and behaves as a man in the middle, slipping into the middle of an https redirect. So when a user leaves an http session and thinks they're being sent to an https session, the attacker has actually sent them somewhere else. The user thinks they've begun operating in a secure session, but in actuality they never made it to the legitimate SSL-encrypted site. A legitimately secure site and a "stripped" site were almost indistinguishable.

Yesterday Marlinkspike showed a demo in which the legitimate and exploited sites were entirely indistinguishable. Marlinspike showed how to overcome even the two significant hurdles that would, theoretically, prevent his attacks -- software updates and OCSP (the Online Certificate Status Protocol). The update problem was sidestepped by going after the update server itself--thereby achieving the access privileges necessary to make updates silent. The OCSP trouble required different trickery that I won't get too deeply into here, but suffice it to say that all it required was to send a milquetoast error message -- "try again later."

The heart of the problem though is the X.509 standard, which Marlinspike called "a total nightmare" and security rockstar Dan Kaminsky later called "remarkably fragile." Ultimately X.509 is fraught with ambiguity, which means that everyone is implementing their crypto somewhat differently -- and that makes life complicated for both browsers and certifying authorities (CAs). They can't lower the boom on poor, insecure configurations without running the risk of demolishing the authentication systems of many, many, many, sites.

The good news is that, according to Kaminsky, browser vendors, CAs and security researchers alike are working together to start repairing these problems -- first trying to patch up the X.509 standard, then deciding upon a better authentication method (possibly leveraging DNSSEC), then (fingers crossed) figuring out how to move from X.509 to a brave new world.

In entirely unrelated news...Dmitri Alperovitch described the nationalistic yet capitalistic mindset of Russian organized crime in a clearer way than I'd heard it put before: Money is the motive. Nationalism is the rationalization.

Sara Peters is senior editor at Computer Security Institute. Special to Dark Reading. Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Why Cyber-Risk Is a C-Suite Issue
Marc Wilczek, Digital Strategist & CIO Advisor,  11/12/2019
Unreasonable Security Best Practices vs. Good Risk Management
Jack Freund, Director, Risk Science at RiskLens,  11/13/2019
Breaches Are Inevitable, So Embrace the Chaos
Ariel Zeitlin, Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder, Guardicore,  11/13/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2011-2916
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
qtnx 0.9 stores non-custom SSH keys in a world-readable configuration file. If a user has a world-readable or world-executable home directory, another local system user could obtain the private key used to connect to remote NX sessions.
CVE-2019-12757
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
Symantec Endpoint Protection (SEP), prior to 14.2 RU2 & 12.1 RU6 MP10 and Symantec Endpoint Protection Small Business Edition (SEP SBE) prior to 12.1 RU6 MP10d (12.1.7510.7002), may be susceptible to a privilege escalation vulnerability, which is a type of issue whereby an attacker may attempt t...
CVE-2019-12758
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
Symantec Endpoint Protection, prior to 14.2 RU2, may be susceptible to an unsigned code execution vulnerability, which may allow an individual to execute code without a resident proper digital signature.
CVE-2019-12759
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager (SEPM) and Symantec Mail Security for MS Exchange (SMSMSE), prior to versions 14.2 RU2 and 7.5.x respectively, may be susceptible to a privilege escalation vulnerability, which is a type of issue whereby an attacker may attempt to compromise the software applicat...
CVE-2019-18372
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
Symantec Endpoint Protection, prior to 14.2 RU2, may be susceptible to a privilege escalation vulnerability, which is a type of issue whereby an attacker may attempt to compromise the software application to gain elevated access to resources that are normally protected from an application or user.