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PGP Vuln exposed by Outlook plug-In

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

One the most important secure email standards used to encrypt messages could be vulnerable to attack through a plug-in used by the Microsoft Outlook email suite.

It is claimed that certain commercial and freeware products supplied by Network Associates Inc that use the Pretty Good Privacy encryption standard contain a flaw that could leave systems exposed.

From the hole in a PGP-encrypted messaging plug-in, a hacker might launch keystroke-logging software to unscramble confidential email messages. Investigations by Aliso Viejo, California-based eEye Digital Security Inc suggest that Network Associates' PGP Desktop Security 7.0.4, PGP Personal Security 7.0.3 and PGP Freeware 7.0.3 products are susceptible.

PGP, which was originally developed by renowned cryptographer Phil Zimmerman and is now owned by Network Associates, can be called a standard simply through the size of its market share. PGP is widely deployed and has penetrated the market because of its non-hierarchical "web of trust" model.

The Santa Clara, California-based company has issued a patch, but insists the flaw does not affect the PGP encryption software itself, but the PGP plug-in for Outlook.

It is not the first time PGP has looked vulnerable to hackers. Last year it emerged that under certain circumstances, PGP v5.0 generates keys that are not sufficiently random, which could allow an attacker to predict keys to recover information encrypted with that key.

© ComputerWire

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