December 10, 2016

Is SSL Falling Apart? New Research Papers Find More Holes

(LiveHacking.Com) – Two new research papers (here and here) have been published which examine the low level details of SSL, specifically randomness aspects, and the results are surprising. According to the “Ron was wrong, Whit is right” paper,  two out of every one thousand RSA moduli that on the Internet today offer no security. While the Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy blog shows that 0.4% of all the public keys used for SSL web site security can be remotely compromised.

Two in one thousand is  0.2%, Princeton is talking 0.4%. These aren’t huge numbers… but a search on Google for how many sites have “https://” in the URL shows 19,640,000,000 sites. Some of these are sites about HTTPS and aren’t secure sites. If just one quarter of those are really using https, that is 4,910,000,000 sites. 0.4% of 1,964,000,000. That is a lot of SSL certificates. And a huge potential number of sites which can be hacked.

“Our conclusion is that the validity of the assumption is questionable and that generating keys in the real world for “multiple-secrets” cryptosystems such as RSA is signi cantly riskier than for “single-secret” ones such as ElGamal or (EC)DSA which are based on Die-Hellman,” wrote Arjen K. Lenstra et al.

SSL has been having a hard time recently and it is starting to look as if this system isn’t as robust as previously thought. Recent SSL stories include the BEAST, Diginotar and Verisign.

“Unfortunately, we’ve found vulnerable devices from nearly every major manufacturer and we suspect that more than 200,000 devices, representing 4.1% of the SSL keys in our dataset, were generated with poor entropy. Any weak keys found to be generated by a device suggests that the entire class of devices may be vulnerable upon further analysis,” wrote Nadia Heninger.