Feeds

Russian trouble makers find Quicken backdoor

Makes it possible to remove password protection from Quicken files

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A Russian firm that provides password-recovery services says it has found a backdoor in the encryption mechanism that Quicken uses to secure password-protected files, a feature that makes millions of users of the personal finance program more vulnerable to government spooks or other highly determined snoops.

Elcomsoft, which made waves in 2001 after it circulated software that circumvented digital rights management protections in Adobe's eBooks, said the latest version of its Advanced Intuit Password Recovery product allows users to remove password protection from Quicken files.

Intuit said the company is investigating the claims and is prepared to modify password mechanisms in Quicken accordingly.

"We take all these kinds of claims related to information security very seriously," Intuit spokeswoman Jodi Reinman said.

According to a statement issued by Elcomsoft, Intuit since 2003 has secured password-protected Quicken files using "strong encryption" that for practical purposes makes brute-force attacks impossible. But Elcomsoft said the strong encryption is accompanied by a backdoor that lets Intuit unlock encrypted files using a 512-bit RSA key that until recently was known only to Intuit. The key enabled Intuit to deliver retrieval service for customers who could no longer remember their password.

"It is very unlikely that a casual hacker could have broken into Quicken's password protection regimen," Vladimir Katalov, Elcomsoft's CEO, said in a statement. "Elcomsoft, a respected leader in the crypto community, needed to use its advanced decryption technology to uncover Intuit's undocumented and well-hidden back door, and to successfully perform a factorization of their 512-bit RSA key."

Elcomsoft correctly points out that the existence of such a backdoor could put millions of users at risk of having their financial information snooped on if such a back door fell into the wrong hands. But they go on to speculate that "Perhaps Intuit included the Quicken backdoor to make it possible for the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), FBI, CIA, or other law-enforcement and forensics organizations to use an "escrow key" to gain entry into password-protected Quicken files." That's just plain silly. Assuming the backdoor exists, the more plausible explanation is that Intuit installed it so the company could earn extra money retrieving passwords.

In 2001, Elcomsoft programmer Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested at Def Con by federal authorities and charged with violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in connection with a talk he gave about hacking Adobe's eBooks. Sklyarov eventually was freed in exchange for agreeing to testify against his former employer. Elcomsoft was eventually acquitted on all counts. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.