Thursday, November 05, 2009

Tech Titans Meet in Secret to Plug SSL Hole

Dan Goodin writes on The Register:

Researchers say they've uncovered a flaw in the secure sockets layer protocol that allows attackers to inject text into encrypted traffic passing between two endpoints.

The vulnerability in the transport layer security protocol allows man-in-the-middle attackers to surreptitiously introduce text at the beginning of an SSL session, said Marsh Ray, a security researcher who discovered the bug. A typical SSL transaction may be broken into multiple sessions, providing the attacker ample opportunity to sneak password resets and other commands into communications believed to be cryptographically authenticated.

Practical attacks have been demonstrated against both the Apache and Microsoft IIS webservers communicating with a variety of client applications. A consortium of some of the world's biggest technology companies have been meeting since late September to hash out a new industry standard that will fix the flaw. A draft is expected to be submitted on Thursday to the Internet Engineering Task Force.

"A core security guarantee made by TLS is violated as a result of this problem," said Steve Dispensa, CTO of Phonefactor, a provider of two-factor authentication services, the company where Ray works. "It's going to take a while for the protocol changes necessary to be rolled out, because every browser and every server in the world is going to have to be patched."

More here.


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