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DigiNotar hacker says he stole huge GlobalSign cache

The man behind attack that minted 500 certs

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An internet user with proven ties to the DigiNotar hack claims he stole email, customer data and other sensitive data from two competing web authentication authority that will be released publicly soon.

In a statement posted Thursday, an individual calling himself Comodohacker expanded on previous claims that he breached the security of Israel-based certificate authority StartCom and its competitor GlobalSign, which is headquartered in the US. “I have ALL emails, database backups, customer data” for StartCom, he wrote, and went on to say he had access to “the entire server,” database backups and system configuration of GlobalSign. GlobalSign has already stopped issuing certificates while it investigates.

Thursday's claims came shortly after Comodohacker offered the first conclusive proof he had insider knowledge of the security breach of Netherlands-based DigiNotar that minted more than 500 counterfeit certificates for Google.com and dozens of other websites. The unknown individual, who claims to be a 21-year-old Iranian who is sympathetic to his country's government, posted a file that was signed with the private key of the fraudulent Google certificate, proving he had close contact with the people who perpetrated the hack.

Comodohacker previously confirmed his involvement in a hack on a reseller of the Comodo certificate authority that also forged counterfeit credentials for sensitive websites.

In Thursday's post, he went on to provide details into the breach on DigiNotar, claiming its HSM, or hardware security module, ran on the OpenBSD operating system and had only a single port open that was protected with RSA SecurID and SafeSign Token management systems. It's unclear if that description matches the systems used by DigiNotar.

In June StartSSL suffered a security breach in which attackers attempted to mint fraudulent certificates for several sensitive websites but were ultimately unsuccessful. It was at least the fifth time an entity that issues SSL, or secure sockets layer, certificates had been targeted. In all, four of Comodo's resellers have suffered security breaches in the past six months.

There's no proof Comodohacker was behind the June attack on StartSSL, but in a post published Tuesday and a second post that followed the next day, he claimed he managed to gain control of the hardware security module StartSSL uses to issue certificates but was thwarted at the last minute because the company relied on manual verification.

In the same post, Comodohacker disputed claims Microsoft made Monday that fraudulently issued certificates for domains including *.microsoft.com and *.windowsupdate.com could be used to hijack Microsoft's security update system.

"I'm able to issue windows update," he wrote. "Microsoft's statement about Windows Update and that I can't issue such update is totally false!"

Microsoft declined to comment.

Given the track record of Comodohacker, and the previous attacks on the PK, or public key, infrastructure, which some observers believe is sponsored by the Iranian government, the claims should be thoroughly investigated, said Comodo CEO Melih Abdulhayoglu.

“This is totally a state-sponsored attack on the PK infrastructure so you have to take it seriously,” he told The Register. “You have to immediately turn everything into emergency mode, whatever that is in your company.”

In addition to temporarily ceasing certificate issuance during its investigation, GlobalSign has hired Dutch security firm Fox IT to assist in the probe. It's unclear what steps StartCom has taken in response to the claims. Representatives from both companies didn't respond to emails seeking comment for this post. ®

This article was updated to add details about a previous attack on StartCom, and fraudulent certificates issued for Microsoft domains.

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