The state-level attack on the SSL CA security model

Florian Weimer fweimer at
Tue Mar 29 02:30:15 CDT 2011

* Crist Clark:

> Any large, well funded national-level intelligence agency
> almost certainly has keys to a valid CA distributed with
> any browser or SSL package. It would be trivial for the US
> Gov't (and by extension, the whole AUSCANNZUKUS intelligence
> community) to simply form a shell company CA that could get
> a trusted cert in the distros or enlist a "legit" CA to do
> their patriotic duty (along with some $$$) and give up a key.

I think this is far too complicated.  You just add your state PKI to
the browsers, and the CPS does not require any checks on the Common
Name, to verify it's actually somehow controlled by the certificate
holder.  Curiously, such CAs can pass Webtrust audits.

Now I'm a realist and assume that the bureaucrats involved are just
too incompetent to write a proper CPS (and the auditors to lazy to
notice).  Authoring policies and paying attention to detail, should be
second nature to them, but somehow I doubt that the FPKI (say) issues
certificates for non-federal entities to help with ongoing FBI
investigations.  (Same for the German government agencies who actually
managed to get Mozilla approval for their non-CN-checking CAs.)

Florian Weimer                <fweimer at>
BFK edv-consulting GmbH
Kriegsstraße 100              tel: +49-721-96201-1
D-76133 Karlsruhe             fax: +49-721-96201-99

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