Security team successfully cracks SSL using 200 PS3's and MD5
Steven M. Bellovin
smb at cs.columbia.edu
Sat Jan 3 09:49:04 CST 2009
On Sat, 03 Jan 2009 09:35:06 -0500
William Warren <hescominsoon at emmanuelcomputerconsulting.com> wrote:
> Everyone seems to be stampeding to SHA-1..yet it was broken in 2005.
> So we trade MD5 for SHA-1? This makes no sense.
(a) SHA-1 was not broken as badly. The best attack is, as I recall,
2^63, which is computationally infeasible without special-purpose
(b) Per a paper Eric Rescorla and I wrote, there's no usable
alternative, since too many protocols (including TLS) don't negotiate
hash functions before presenting certificates. In particular, this
means that a web site can't use SHA-256 because (1) most clients won't
support it; and (2) it can't tell which ones do. (Note that this
argument applies just as much to combinations of hash functions --
anything that *the large majority of today's* browsers don't implement
These two points lead us to (c): security is a matter of economics, not
algorithms. Switching now to something else loses more in connectivity
or customers than you would lose from such an expensive attack.
--Steve Bellovin, http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~smb
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