PKI Consortium blog

Posts by author Rick Andrews

Always-On SSL
September 30, 2016 by Rick Andrews, Ben Wilson Encryption Firefox Google Identity Microsoft Mixed Content OpenSSL Policy Qualified SSL/TLS
There is no doubt that content owners and publishers have a duty to encourage trust and the confidence during internet usage by adopting security best practices. If a customer believes that their data and identity are safe and protected, they are more inclined to continue their online transactions. Industry best practices for website protection should be vendor-neutral, easy to implement, and globally accessible. Websites should take all the reasonable steps possible to adopt best practices in secure design and implementation, and this includes using Always-On SSL across the entire website.

TLS Certificates on the Web – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
May 17, 2016 by Rick Andrews CA/Browser Forum Code Signing ECC Encryption EV Hash Function PKI Policy RSA SSL/TLS
It might be hard to believe, but the SSL/TLS Ecosystem is nearly 20 years old. It’s time to take stock and see how we’re doing with regards to TLS certificates. In this article, we’ll primarily discuss certificates themselves and not web server configuration, although that is often a source of problems. In the last few years, we’ve endured three major certificate-based migrations: Away from the MD2 and MD5 hash algorithms to SHA-1 Away from small RSA keys to 2048-bit keys or larger Away from the SHA-1 hash algorithm to SHA-256 What’s driving these migrations?

New Directions for Elliptic Curve Cryptography in Internet Protocols
June 24, 2015 by Rick Andrews ECC ECDSA IETF NIST RSA SSL/TLS
Last week I attended and presented at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Workshop on Elliptic Curve Cryptography Standards. In NIST’s words, “The workshop is to provide a venue to engage the crypto community, including academia, industry, and government users to discuss possible approaches to promote the adoption of secure, interoperable and efficient elliptic curve mechanisms.” We began by discussing the reasons for holding this workshop. Speakers acknowledged that although there are no known issues with the current set of NIST curves, in some circles they are widely distrusted.

The Insecurity of Mobile Applications
June 11, 2015 by Rick Andrews Android Attack MITM OpenSSL SSL/TLS Vulnerability
Recently, we read about lots of SSL/TLS-related vulnerabilities found in mobile apps, which should come as no surprise. We were warned about this back in 2012 (see these studies). More warnings came in 2014 from CERT and FireEye. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) listed “insufficient transport layer protection” as number three (#3) in its top 10 list of mobile security problems of 2014. Apps that don’t use SSL/TLS are particularly vulnerable, given the ease of reading and modifying unsecured traffic at Wi-Fi hot spots, for example.

My Website’s SSL Certificate is Fine; Why Do Browsers Downgrade the Security Indicators For My Site?
April 1, 2015 by Rick Andrews Attack Chrome Encryption EV IETF RC4 SSL/TLS
All the major browsers provide “security user interface”, meaning visual elements to inform the user of the security of their connection to the web page they’re visiting. Up until now, those interface elements were tied to the use of SSL/TLS certificates served by the web site. For example, if you went to http://www.example.com, no special elements would be displayed, but if you visited https://www.example.com, you would see a lock icon indicating the presence of a trusted SSL/TLS certificate.

Gogo Found Spoofing Google SSL Certificates
January 8, 2015 by Rick Andrews Google Malware MITM SSL/TLS
It was recently disclosed that Gogo, a provider of Wi-Fi Internet services on commercial aircraft, has been issuing spoofed SSL certificates for Google sites that were viewed by customers of Gogo’s service. It appears that Gogo Inflight Internet was acting as an SSL Man-in-the-middle (MITM), a technique used within some enterprises to allow themselves to inspect and control all web traffic, even traffic to secure web sites. To understand what this means, let me explain MITM in a bit more detail.

The Cost of Creating Collisions Using SHA-1
November 18, 2014 by Rick Andrews Attack SSL/TLS
SHA-1 is a cryptographic hash algorithm that is most commonly used today in TLS/SSL certificates on the Internet. It has almost completely replaced older algorithms like MD2, MD4 and MD5, which were phased out when practical attacks against those algorithms became widely known. If you do a simple web search, you’ll find a number of online services that claim to “crack” SHA-1 and other hash functions. These generally use a computer’s CPU to build and search through a rainbow table, which contains the hash value that results from a number of expected inputs, and allows you to “reverse” the hash algorithm.

OCSP Must-Staple
June 18, 2014 by Bruce Morton (Entrust), Rick Andrews Announcement Revocation SSL/TLS
With the announcement of the Heartbleed bug and the resulting need to revoke large numbers of SSL certificates, the topic of certificate revocation has, once again, come to the fore. There have been many issues with how revocation information is provided to the browsers. First let’s review how SSL certificate status may currently be obtained: How | How | Definition | Pros | Cons | | signed list of the serial numbers of all revoked certificates that were signed by the CA’s certificate.

Perfect Forward Secrecy
April 11, 2014 by Bruce Morton (Entrust), Rick Andrews 3DES DH ECC ECDH Forward Secrecy OpenSSL RC4 RSA SSL/TLS TLS 1.2
Recent revelations from Edward Snowden about pervasive government surveillance have led to many questions about the safety of communications using the SSL/TLS protocol. Such communications are generally safe from eavesdroppers, as long as certain precautions are observed. For example, configuring your web server to avoid using SSL2 and SSL3, favoring newer versions of TLS like TLS 1.2, selecting strong ciphersuites, etc. But even if your server is configured properly, you still must secure the private key associated with your SSL certificate.

Always-On SSL, Part I
January 16, 2014 by Rick Andrews Encryption Google Identity Microsoft Mixed Content OpenSSL SSL/TLS
There is no doubt that content owners and publishers have a duty to encourage trust and the confidence during internet usage by adopting security best practices. If a customer believes that their data and identity are safe and protected, they are more inclined to continue their online transactions. Industry best practices for website protection should be vendor-neutral, easy to implement, and globally accessible. Websites should take all the reasonable steps possible to adopt best practices in secure design and implementation, and this includes using Always-On SSL across the entire website.

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