Feeds

Whoops! Tiny bug in NetBSD 6.0 code ruins SSH crypto keys

'Random numbers are too important to be left to chance'

Security for virtualized datacentres

The brains behind NetBSD have warned a bug in the open-source OS creates weak cryptographic keys that can be cracked by attackers. Users attempting to secure sensitive communications, such as SSH terminal connections, using the dodgy keys could be easily snooped on and their data decrypted.

The use of a cryptographically flawed pseudo random-number generator in NetBSD 6.0 means that potentially predictable keys were generated. Versions of NetBSD-current older than 26 January 2013 are affected. NetBSD 5.1 and 5.2 do not suffer from the bug, which is due to be fixed in NetBSD 6.1. Until then users need to update their kernels to builds created after 26 January.

Many types of cryptographic keys (including SSH and SSL session keys) generated on affected systems may be weak. A sizeof() blunder introduced data that wasn't sufficiently random for cryptography.

Sys admins are advised to generate new keys after updating the NetBSD kernel software, as explained in an advisory from the NetBSD Foundation.

"For systems newly set up with NetBSD 6, all SSH host keys are suspect," the advisory explains. "Other persistent cryptographic secrets (for example, SSH or SSL keys of any type) generated using /dev/urandom on NetBSD 6 systems which may have had insufficient entropy at key generation time may be impacted and should be regenerated."

The first version of the advisory was published late last month prior to publication of an update with a stronger warning that caught the eye of crypto experts such as Ivan Ristic, an open-source advocate who runs the SSL Labs service. ®

Bootnote

A hat-tip to Reg reader Richard Outerbridge for the heads up on the bug. "Picking random numbers is far too important to be left to chance," Richard wisely notes.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.