Feeds

Timing attack threatens private keys on SSL servers

Elliptic-curve curveball crypto mobe method menace

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Security researchers have discovered a "timing attack" that creates a possible mechanism for a hacker to extract the secret key of a TLS/SSL server that uses elliptic curve cryptography (ECC).

Elliptic curve cryptography is a type of public-key algorithm that uses the maths of elliptic curves rather than integer factorisation, which is used by RSA as a one-way function. By using ECC it is possible to provide equivalent levels of difficulty for a brute-force attack as can be provided by the more familiar integer-factorisation approaches, but using smaller key lengths. The approach has benefits for mobile and low-power systems.

Researchers Billy Bob Brumley and Nicola Tuveri have discovered some implementations of elliptic curve cryptography are vulnerable to a form of side-channel attack based on measuring the length of time it takes to digitally sign a message. The attack can be carried out locally or, with greater difficulty, remotely. The researchers validated their research through tests on an OpenSSL Server running ECC that they had established, as explained in the abstract of a research paper by the computer scientists.

This paper describes a timing attack vulnerability in OpenSSL's ladder implementation for curves over binary fields. We use this vulnerability to steal the private key of a TLS server where the server authenticates with ECDSA signatures. Using the timing of the exchanged messages, the messages themselves, and the signatures, we mount a lattice attack that recovers the private key. Finally, we describe and implement an effective countermeasure.

To thwart the attack, the researchers suggest the use of time-independent functions for computational operations on elliptic curves. US-CERT has published an advisory on the attack, warning that there is no immediate fix for the problem. US CERT cautions against the use of "ECDSA signatures and binary curves for authentication" pending the resolution of the problem. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
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.