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

11/22/2011
05:33 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google Ratchets Up Security Of HTTPS

'Forward secret' HTTPS feature now protects Gmail, SSL Search, Google Docs, and Google+

Google today announced that its SSL-based services are now enhanced to prevent HTTP sessions from being decrypted.

The so-called "forward secrecy" feature basically protects an HTTPS-secured session from being retroactively decrypted, according to Adam Langley, a member of the Google security team. So if a bad guy were to attempt to decrypt HTTPS sessions he had recorded, he would be unable to do so, Langley says.

"Most major sites supporting HTTPS operate in a non-forward secret fashion, which runs the risk of retrospective decryption," Langley said in a blog post announcing the new security feature today. "In other words, an encrypted, unreadable email could be recorded while being delivered to your computer today. In ten years time, when computers are much faster, an adversary could break the server private key and retrospectively decrypt today’s email traffic."

Forward secrecy is different than nonforward secrecy, where the private keys for an SSL connection are stored for the long term. With forward secrecy, no one can go back and decrypt a recorded HTTPS session, not even the SSL server administrator, Langley says.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) has been under siege lately with one certificate authority after another getting hacked, its inherent vulnerability to man-in-the-middle attacks, as well as the high volume of SSL-based websites that are improperly configured.

Ivan Ristic, director of engineering at Qualys and an SSL expert, says Google's addition of forward secrecy "is communication channel encryption done right."

It also prevents governments from decrypting recorded traffic. "Without it, they might try to get Google's private keys. So Google is removing a potentially big liability for them with this move. Perhaps that was their main motivation," he says.

Google is also placing the forward secrecy technology in the public domain in hopes that it will become part and parcel of HTTPS implementations. "We have also released the work that we did on the open source OpenSSL library that made this possible," Langley says.

Users can confirm whether forward-secrecy is running in their Chrome browsers by clicking the green padlock to the left of an HTTPS URL: The key exchange mechanism is ECDHE_RSA if the new feature is active in the browser app.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Add Your Comment" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Manchester United Suffers Cyberattack
Dark Reading Staff 11/23/2020
As 'Anywhere Work' Evolves, Security Will Be Key Challenge
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  11/23/2020
Cloud Security Startup Lightspin Emerges From Stealth
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  11/24/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win an Amazon Gift Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-20934
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in the Linux kernel before 5.2.6. On NUMA systems, the Linux fair scheduler has a use-after-free in show_numa_stats() because NUMA fault statistics are inappropriately freed, aka CID-16d51a590a8c.
CVE-2020-29368
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in __split_huge_pmd in mm/huge_memory.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.5. The copy-on-write implementation can grant unintended write access because of a race condition in a THP mapcount check, aka CID-c444eb564fb1.
CVE-2020-29369
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in mm/mmap.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.11. There is a race condition between certain expand functions (expand_downwards and expand_upwards) and page-table free operations from an munmap call, aka CID-246c320a8cfe.
CVE-2020-29370
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in kmem_cache_alloc_bulk in mm/slub.c in the Linux kernel before 5.5.11. The slowpath lacks the required TID increment, aka CID-fd4d9c7d0c71.
CVE-2020-29371
PUBLISHED: 2020-11-28
An issue was discovered in romfs_dev_read in fs/romfs/storage.c in the Linux kernel before 5.8.4. Uninitialized memory leaks to userspace, aka CID-bcf85fcedfdd.