Feeds

Google researchers propose fix for ailing SSL system

Changes would overhaul net's foundation of trust

Website security in corporate America

No more secret certs

Under the system Laurie and Langley propose, a web browser that accessed an SSL certificate for https://mail.google.com or any other domain would automatically check the credential against an accompanying audit proof that's cryptographically tied to the publicly accessible log of valid certificates. Credentials that don't come with a corresponding proof would be summarily rejected. In the event the official log added an entry for an unauthorized certificate, the affected domain holder would be alerted immediately and could take steps to revoke it.

The system would still be vulnerable to forgeries if one of the log's maintainers colluded with the CA that issued the bogus certificate. But the fraud would require additional work on the part of the attackers and would be easily detected using the cryptographic audit logs of other maintainers.

The Google researchers said they designed the system to be compatible with browsers that don't support it. They went on to concede that the challenge of maintaining, hosting, and monitoring the logs presented “major scaling issues,” but they said “there are many web services with at least as high an uptime requirement.” And besides, the ability to distribute multiple copies of the cryptographically signed logs across the internet could lower the burden on any one maintainer.

It was only two months ago that Langley said that Convergence, an experimental project designed to remove the blind trust that internet users are currently forced to place in CAs, was too unworkable to be integrated into Google's Chrome browser. Moxie Marlinspike, the security researcher who designed the SSL alternative, said the challenge to any fix is finding agreement among the affected browser makers, website operators, CAs, and end users – and that will be no different this time.

“With all of this stuff, it's easy to come up with new ideas, and the hard part is getting them done,” Marlinspike told The Register. “At first glance, it seems this is a major undertaking in terms of getting it done. It would require every CA being complicit in changing the way they operate, as well as every browser and every webserver.” ®

Follow @dangoodin001

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
More alleged private, nude celeb pics appear online
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Snowden, Dotcom, throw bombs into NZ election campaign
Claim of tapped undersea cable refuted by Kiwi PM as Kim claims extradition plot
Freenode IRC users told to change passwords after securo-breach
Miscreants probably got in, you guys know the drill by now
THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug
Metasploit module gobbles KitKat SOP slop
BitTorrent's peer-to-peer chat app Bleep goes live as public alpha
A good day for privacy as invisble.im also reveals its approach to untraceable chats
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
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?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.