Feeds

GNU security library GnuTLS fails on cert checks: Patch now

Many eyes missed bug for many years

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The notion that open source software is more likely to be secure because anyone can look at the source code looks just a little less sound today, after a serious bug was discovered in the key GnuTLS security library, impacting hundreds of applications that use it.

According to this Red Hat advisory: “It was discovered that GnuTLS did not correctly handle certain errors that could occur during the verification of an X.509 certificate, causing it to incorrectly report a successful verification. An attacker could use this flaw to create a specially crafted certificate that could be accepted by GnuTLS as valid for a site chosen by the attacker.”

As a result, a certificate could be accepted as valid even though it wasn't issued by a trusted CA – for example, an attacker could merely self-sign a bogus certificate.

It's down to bad “goto cleanup” calls, similar to Apple's recent “goto fail” SSL bug. There's no causal relationship between the two: goto has been fingered as a problem in software languages ever since Edsger Dijkstra's famous “goto considered harmful” letter of 1968 (there's an annotated version of the letter here).

One commenter in this Reddit thread says the bug is nearly a decade old, having crept into the code back in 2005.

As is noted on this Hacker News thread, alternative security libraries such as OpenSSL are available and packages can be compiled against OpenSSL rather than GnuTLS. However, as a result of license incompatibilities, plenty of packages default to GnuTLS.

Red Hat has issued a patch for its users, and for everyone else, the GnuTLS team has a patch available for 2.12.x versions, or you can upgrade to version 3.2.12.

The bug was discovered by Nikos Mavrogiannopoulos of the Red Hat Security Technologies Team. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
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
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
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 and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.