Feeds

'Iranian' attackers forge Google's Gmail credentials

Skype, Microsoft, Yahoo, Mozilla also targeted

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Who knew what, when?

Of the three browser providers, only Microsoft explicitly notified its users of the attack on the SSL system, albeit eight days after the bogus credentials had been issued. The notification came only after Comodo posted limited attack details here, here, and here.

According to Jacob Appelbaum, the Tor volunteer who independently discovered the compromise, disclosure was postponed until Wednesday so that all parties could have time to issue browser updates.

Companies often urge researchers to delay notification of attacks or vulnerability discoveries until there is a fix in place to prevent the disclosure of information that could enable additional people from exploiting the weaknesses. But to exploit these compromised certificates, attackers would already have to have access to their corresponding private keys. The decision by Google, Microsoft, Mozilla and Comodo to keep the world in the dark for eight days comes as a slap in the face to their users.

“The attackers had all they needed,” said Marsh Ray, a researcher and software developer at two-factor authentication service PhoneFactor. “Knowing which certificates have been compromised gives an immediate step people can take to secure their systems.”

None of the companies would explain why they waited so long to disclose the attack.

Attribution

Of course, any attacker sophisticated enough to be suspected as a state-sponsored actor is also capable of making the attacks appear to have come from Iran in an attempt to create a false trail. Abdulhayoglu acknowledged the possibility that the attackers weren't affiliated with the government of that country. But he pointed to recent news reports about attacks attributed to Iran and its neighbors on TOR, Facebook users in Tunisia and RSA as support the certification forgeries were state-sponsored campaigns.

“If I was a betting man, I would bet that they're in Iran,” he said of the attackers. “If you look at what's happening in the Middle East and if you look at what happened with Stuxnet last year, I think that was a wake up call to the Iranian government to understand the power of cyber warfare. Now they have attacked Tor. They're on a roll at the moment. They keep attacking.” ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
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.