DeepSec 2015 Talk: illusoryTLS – Nobody But Us. Impersonate,Tamper and Exploit (secYOUre)

Sanna/ September 11, 2015/ Conference, Internet, Security

Transport Layer Security is a cornerstone of modern infrastructure. The „Cloud“ is full of it (at least it should be). For most people it is the magic bullet to solve security problems. Well, it is helpful, but only until you try to dive into the implementation on servers, clients, certificate vendors, or Certificate Authorities. Alfonso De Gregorio has done this. He will present his findings at DeepSec 2015 in his presentation aptly titled „illusoryTLS: Nobody But Us. Impersonate,Tamper and Exploit“. Learn how to embed an elliptic-curve asymmetric backdoor into a RSA modulus using Elligator. Find out how the entire TLS security may turn to be fictional, if a single CA certificate with a secretly embedded backdoor enters the certificate store of relying parties. Discover how some entities might have practically explored cryptographic backdoors for intelligence purposes regardless of

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Crypto Article: „Cornerstones of German Encryption Policy“ from 1999 are still in place

Sanna/ June 24, 2015/ Discussion, Security

We have some more translated news for you. In theory it is an article about policies and the process of law-making. In practice it concerns the use of encryption and everyone relying on service providers (mostly connected to the Internet, i.e. „cloud providers“). No matter how cool your start-up is and what its products aim to replace, information security will probably need a backdoor-free and working encryption technology as a core component. This is exactly why you cannot stay focused on the technology alone. Threats may come in the guise of new laws or regulations (think Wassenaar Arrangement). Matthias Monroy has some information about the official stance of the German government regarding the currently raging „crypto wars“. Enjoy! Federal Ministry of the Interior: The “Cornerstones of German encryption policy“ from 1999 still remain Source: Author: Matthias

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Crypto Article: EU Economy needs secure Encryption

René Pfeiffer/ June 16, 2015/ Discussion, Security

Given the ongoing demonisation of cryptography we have translated an article for you, written by Erich Moechel, an ORF journalist. The use of encryption stays an important component for information security, regardless which version of the Crypto Wars is currently running. While most of the voices in news articles get the threat model wrong, there are still some sane discussions about the beneficial use of technology. The following article was published on the FM4 web site on 25 January 2015. Have a look and decide for yourself if the Crypto Wars have begun again (provided they came to an end at some point in the past). Maybe you work in this field and like to submit a presentation covering the current state of affairs. Let us know. EU Economy needs secure Encryption The EU technical bodies

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Encrypted Messaging, Secure by Design – RedPhone and TextSecure for iOS

René Pfeiffer/ February 2, 2015/ Communication, Security

Encrypted communication is periodically in the news. A few weeks ago politicians asked companies and individuals all over the world to break the design of all secure communication. Demanding less security in an age where digital threats are increasing is a tremendously bad idea. Cryptographic algorithms are a basic component of information security. Encryption is used to protect data while being transported or stored on devices. Strong authentication is a part of this as well. If you don’t know who or what talks to you, then you are easy prey for frauds. Should you be interested in ways to improve the security of your messaging and phone calls, we recommend watching the presentation of Dr. Christine Corbett Moran. She is the lead developer of the iOS team at Open WhisperSystems. She talks about bringing

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Encryption – A brand new „Feature“ for Cars

René Pfeiffer/ February 2, 2015/ Internet, Security, Stories

At DeepSec 2011 Constantinos Patsakis and Kleanthis Dellios held a presentation titled “Patching Vehicle Insecurities”. They pointed out that the car is starting to resemble more to a computer with mechanical peripherals (incase you haven’t seen their talk,  please do!). This is true for all types, not only the modern cars powered by electricity alone. But there is more. Modern cars are connected to networks (i.e. the Internet or the mobile phone network). This means that your method of transportation is part of the dreaded Internet of Things. Given the design flaws we have seen in talks given at DeepSec, there is no surprise that this is a  breeding ground for major trouble. The Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC), a German motoring association, discovered a lapse in the communication between BMW cars and the servers

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Talk about Cryptography and the NSA’s Capabilities

René Pfeiffer/ March 31, 2014/ Discussion, Security, Veranstaltung

The published documents about the NSA’s capabilities have led to a review of cryptographic tools. Mastering SSL/TLS by itself can be tricky. This is especially true if you have to deal with clients that do not take advantage of the latest TLS protocols. System administrators and developers are well advised to keep an eye on the capabilities of libraries and the algorithms available for securing network communication. We recommend to have a look at the publication of the Applied Crypto Hardening project in case you wish to review your crypto deployment. The standardisation of cryptographic methods has been criticised as well. Apart from the flawed Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator (Dual_EC_DRBG) there is a lot of discussion going on where the practices of standardisation are being questioned. Given the design problem in

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Applied Crypto Hardening (ACH) Project

René Pfeiffer/ January 2, 2014/ Communication, Security

DeepSec 2013 featured a talk about the Applied Crypto Hardening (ACH) project. In the wake of the discussion about attacks on cryptography itself and implementations of cryptographic standards almost every aspect of encrypted communication needs to be reviewed. Since system administrators, developers, and other IT staff usually has not the same expertise as crypto experts, the ACH project was formed. Its goal is to compile a reference for the best practice configuration of systems that use cryptographic components. The ACH guide covers SSL/TLS, virtual private network (VPN), algorithms, key sizes, (pseudo) random generators, and more. The advice is targeted at everyone seeking to improve the cryptographic capabilities of software and appliances. Hardening crypto is part of the basic security measures everyone should take care of. It needs to become a habit, just like everything

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Crypto Wars by Black Boxes and Standards

René Pfeiffer/ September 15, 2013/ High Entropy, Security

Intelligence services go after cryptography. That’s the news you have probably read in the past weeks. That’s no surprise. They have been doing this for centuries. If your job is to intercept and analyse communication, then cryptography gets in your way (provided the target uses it properly). Intelligence services have been dealing with creating and breaking ciphers since their existence. How do you break cryptography? What can you do to attack encrypted communication? There are multiple ways to obtain messages in clear text. Attack the encrypted data! This is widely known as cryptanalysis. Basically you intercept the encrypted message and try to deduce the plain text. Given sufficient failures in the history of cipher designs, this is pretty hard with most modern ciphers. Algorithms used today are developed and tested to withstand attacks like

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Support your local CryptoParty

René Pfeiffer/ April 29, 2013/ Communication, Discussion, Training

Since September 2012 there are CryptoParty events all over the world. The idea is to bring a group together and have each other teach the basics of cryptography and how to use the various tools that enable you to encrypt and protect information. Of course, encryption by itself cannot guarantee security, but it’s a part of the equation. Since cryptography is hard, most tools using it require a certain amount of knowledge to understand what’s going on and how to properly use them. The CryptoParty helps – in theory and most often in practice, too. If a CryptoParty is near you and you have some knowledge to spare, please take part and share what you know with others. DeepSec supports the local CryptoParty events in Austria, too. Finding a CryptoParty can be easily done

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Post-Crypto in a Pre-APT World

René Pfeiffer/ March 2, 2013/ High Entropy, Security Intelligence

There was a Cryptographers’ Panel session at the RSA Conference with Adi Shamir of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Ron Rivest of MIT, Dan Boneh of Stanford University, Whitfield Diffie of ICANN and Ari Juels of RSA Labs. You have probably read Adi Shamir’s statement about implementing (IT) security in a „post-crypto“ world. He claimed that cryptography would become less important for defending computer systems and that security experts have to rethink how to protect valuable information in the light of sophisticated Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). „Highly secured“ Infrastructure has been compromised despite „state of the art” defence mechanisms. So what does rethinking really mean? Do we have to start from scratch? Should we abandon everything we use today and come up with a magic bullet (or a vest more appropriately)? Our first implication

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Using untrusted Network Environments

René Pfeiffer/ November 15, 2012/ Administrivia, Conference, Security

We mentioned on Twitter that DeepSec 2012 will again feature an open wireless network. This means that there will be no barriers when connecting to the Internet – no passwords, no login, no authentication and no encryption. Some of us are used to operate in untrusted environments, most others aren’t. So the tricky part is giving proper advice for all those who are not familiar with protecting their computing devices and network connections. We don’t know what your skills are, but we try to give some (hopefully) sensible hints. If you are well-versed with IT security and its tools, then you probably already know what you are doing. Nevertheless it’s a good habit to double-check. We caught one of our own sessions chairs with his crypto pants down and found a password – just

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DeepSec 2012 Showcase: Cuteforce Analyzer

René Pfeiffer/ November 13, 2012/ Discussion, Security

The University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria will be showing the Cuteforce Analyzer at DeepSec 2012. This beast is a massively parallel computing cluster for cryptographic applications. The goals of this project was to develop a cluster framework and to evaluate suitable hardware. The cluster itself utilises two different types of co-processors, namely the well-known graphics processing units (GPUs) also used in super-computing, and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Both types of processors have their strength and weaknesses, both depending on the algorithm being executed on the hardware. The cluster framework connects both hardware platforms, and assigns computing tasks according to the advantages of the co-processor. Thus you get to use all the advantages; in addition the framework software makes sure that you can use the different hardware processors as a whole. The research team

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DeepSec 2012 Talk: Evolution of E-Money

René Pfeiffer/ October 5, 2012/ Conference

The concept of electronic money has been around long before BitCoin entered the stage. The main characteristic is its electronic storage and exchange. This is both convenient and dangerous since digital goods can be stolen by copying data or cracking codes, depending on the design of the e-money system (which often will involve cryptographers). Jon Matonis will give you an overview about both the goals and the scary aspects of the cashless society. While the talk will focus on BitCoin, which is a peer-to-peer crypto-currency, you will get a deeper insight into how electronic currencies work, what challenges existing designs have solved (or haven’t), and which opportunities the use of digital currencies poses in the future. The phenomenon is quite young, but it is popular, even among criminals who already robbed a BitCoin bank.

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Of CAs, DLP, CSRs, MITM, inspection and compliance

René Pfeiffer/ February 16, 2012/ Discussion, Security

Writing about certificate authorities is slowly turning into beating dead horses. We have seen a couple of security breaches at CAs in the past. We have witnessed security researchers turning to SSL/TLS. Fairly recently researchers have put RSA keys to the test and found common prime factors in thousands of keys. Now we have a discussion about compliance. The Mozilla team has given CAs a stern warning sparked by the issue of a signing certificate by the Trustwave CA to a customer using a data loss prevention (DLP) device. According to a report the signing root certificate was used inside a Hardware Security Module for the purpose of dynamically creating fake certificates in order to inspect encrypted web traffic. While there was an audit at the customer’s site, this incident has sparked a heated

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Water Plants, Cyberwar, and Scenario Fulfillment

René Pfeiffer/ December 1, 2011/ High Entropy, Security, Stories

While we refuse to add a Cyberwar category to this blog, we want to explore this shady topic with a story. Do you recall the water plant hack a few weeks ago? According to news floating around in the Internet an US-American water plant in Illinois suffered from a security breach together with a failed water pump. Apparently attackers took the pump out by applying a well-tried IT technique called „Have you tried to turn it off and on again?“. So in theory this is a full-scale Cyberwar incident that puts all of our infrastructure at risk – plus you can add the magical acronym SCADA when talking about it, thus lowering the room temperature a few degrees and imposing the well-tried fear and awe effect on your audience. While industrial control systems remain

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