The state-level attack on the SSL CA security model

Martin Millnert millnert at gmail.com
Wed Mar 23 22:05:56 CDT 2011


To my surprise, I did not see a mention in this community of the
latest proof of the complete failure of the SSL CA model to actually
do what it is supposed to: provide security, rather than a false sense
of security.

Essentially a state somewhere between Iraq and Pakistan snatched valid
certs for:
 - mail.google.com
 - www.google.com
 - login.yahoo.com
 - login.skype.com
 - addons.mozilla.org
 - login.live.com
 - "global trustee"

https://blog.torproject.org/blog/detecting-certificate-authority-compromises-and-web-browser-collusion
http://www.comodo.com/Comodo-Fraud-Incident-2011-03-23.html
http://www.imperialviolet.org/2011/03/18/revocation.html (on epic
failure of cert revocation lists implementations in browsers, failing
open (!))
http://blog.mozilla.com/security/2011/03/22/firefox-blocking-fraudulent-certificates/
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/advisory/2524375.mspx

For over a week users of browsers, and the internet at large, were/was
not informed by COMODO that their security was compromised. "Why not"
is beyond many of us. Announcing this high and loud even before fixes
were available would not have exposed more users to threats, but less.
Conclusion: protecting people must not be a priority in the SSL CA
model.

In some places, failure of internet security means people die, and it
is high time to start serious work to replace this time-and-time again
proven flawed model with something that, at the very least, does not
fail this tragically.

DNSSEC is a good but insufficient start in this particular case.

Regards,
Martin




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