Feeds

SSH firm aims to untangle crypto key hairball

Fo' SHHizzle

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Infosec 2012 Secure Shell (SSH) certificate management – a key internet protocol used for remote access and file transfer for nearly 20 years now – can become quite a tangled issue if there isn't a clear management policy in place, and SSH Communications Security, one of the security exhibitors at Infosec, claims it has a solution.

SSH is often used for remote access and file transfer in countless organisations. The tech has been around since 1995 and has become a ubiquitous component in network systems in the 17 years since then. The protocol is used for the secure transfer of product and price lists, banking data and other classes of information. Often the technology comes bundled as a component of other software tools.

Typically organisations create a new key pair for every new application, authorised users and automated service account. Over time this has left organisations with sometimes hundreds of thousands of SSH key ‘pairs' but without a clear idea what they are used for or on which system. Key pairs ought to be updated at least every two years but there is easy way to do this and organisations are wary of retiring keys in case the process breaks the legacy system. Applications, user and service accounts each have public and private key pairs to communicate securely with target SSH servers.

SSH Communications Security is punting a management platform to help combat this.

“Enterprises' most critical data and applications are often transported and housed on SSH and OpenSSH servers," said Tatu Ylönen, chief exec of SSH Communications Security and inventor of SSH-1. "Those enterprises using public key authentication to manage access to those servers are faced with a significant challenge today in terms of knowing who and what may access those servers. This is not only a major security and compliance risk, however it is also a cost issue. Many organisations manage this function manually with little or no oversight.”

Enterprises sometimes approve access to key pairs through permissions in Active Directory, but that wouldn't stop a rogue employee who had access to key pairs at any time from abusing unrevoked access to key systems to cause damage. In addition, PCI-DSS auditors are beginning to take a closer interest in how firms manage their SSH key infrastructure, according to Ylönen. "As the scale of SSH deployment grows you get more problems because organisation have no visibility into who has access to what," Ylönen added. "Organisations might install thousands of new key pairs every year. More than half of their SSH keys would still be in use but organisations often don't know which they are."

SSH Communications Security is aiming to untangle this crypto key hairball through a User Key Management Tool. The module, which bolts into SSH's Information Integrity Platform, automates the process of identifying, organising and recycling SSH keys within a user's environment. It was launched at the RSA Conference in San Francisco back in February. It has gone though a number of trails since prior to its European showcase debut at this week's Infosecurity Europe Conference.

The key management tool comes as either software, a virtual appliance or a hardware appliance. All three form factors of the technology are capable of handling both SSH and OpenSSH keys. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.