DeepSec Video: illusoryTLS – Nobody But Us. Impersonate,Tamper and Exploit

Cryptographic backdoors are a timely topic often debated as a government matter to legislate on. At the same time, they define a space that some entities might have practically explored for intelligence purposes, regardless of the policy framework.

The Web Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) we daily rely on provides an appealing target for attack. The entire X.509 PKI security architecture falls apart if a single CA certificate with a secretly embedded backdoor enters the certificate store of trusting parties. Do we have sufficient assurance that this has not happened already?

Alfonso De Gregorio presented at DeepSec 2015 his findings and introduced illusoryTLS. Aptly named illusoryTLS, the entry is an instance of the Young and Yung elliptic curve asymmetric backdoor in the RSA key generation. The backdoor targets a Certification Authority public-key certificate, imported in the certificate store of a pretty standard HTTPS client and TLS server. The security outcome is the worst possible outcome, because the backdoor completely perverts the security guarantees provided by the TLS protocol, allowing the attacker to impersonate the endpoints (i.e., authentication failure), tamper with their messages (i.e., integrity erosion), and actively eavesdrop on their communications (i.e., confidentiality loss).

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