Feeds

'Iranian' attackers forge Google's Gmail credentials

Skype, Microsoft, Yahoo, Mozilla also targeted

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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.” ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Apple Pay is a tidy payday for Apple with 0.15% cut, sources say
Cupertino slurps 15 cents from every $100 purchase
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
YouTube, Amazon and Yahoo! caught in malvertising mess
Cisco says 'Kyle and Stan' attack is spreading through compromised ad networks
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
China hacked US Army transport orgs TWENTY TIMES in ONE YEAR
FBI et al knew of nine hacks - but didn't tell TRANSCOM
Microsoft to patch ASP.NET mess even if you don't
We know what's good for you, because we made the mess says Redmond
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.