Russia attempts mandating installation of root CA on clients for TLS MITM

Dario Ciccarone (dciccaro) dciccaro at
Fri Mar 11 02:26:58 UTC 2022

I think the point Eric was trying to make is that while, indeed, the initial, stated goal might be to be able to issue certificates to replace those expired or expiring, there's just a jump/skip/hop to force installation of this root CA certificate in all browsers, or for Russia to block downloads of Firefox/Chrome from outside the Federation, and instead distribute versions which would already include this CA's certificate. And then MITM the whole population without their knowledge or approval.

GIVEN: savvy users might know how to delete the certificate, or others may teach them how, and how to download other CA's certificates (if the government was to ship only this certificate with the browser). Cat and mouse game. The North Korean and Chinese governments have been doing these kind of shenanigans for a long time - I am sure Russia could copy their model. And considering the tight media control they’re already exercising, I don't think it is crazy or paranoid to think Internet will be next. They seem to be already going down that path.

PS: opinions and statements, like the above, are my very own personal take or opinion. Nothing I say should be interpreted to be my employer's position, nor be supported by my employer. 

On 3/10/22, 7:38 PM, "NANOG on behalf of Sean Donelan" < at on behalf of sean at> wrote:

    On Thu, 10 Mar 2022, Eric Kuhnke wrote:
    > I think we'll see a lot more of this from authoritarian regimes in the
    > future. For anyone unfamiliar with their existing distributed DPI
    > architecture, google "Russia SORM".

    Many nation's have a government CA.

    The United States Government has its Federal Public Key Infrastructure, 
    and Federal Bridge CA.

    If you use DOD CAC ID's or FCEB PIV cards or other federal programs, your 
    computer needs to have the FPKI CA's.  You don't need the FPKI CA's for 
    other purposes.

    Some countries CA's issue for citizen and business certificates.

    While X509 allows you to specify different CA's for different purposes, 
    since the days of Netscape, browsers trust hundreds of root or bridged CA 
    in its trust repository for anything.

    Neither commercial or government CA's are inherently more (or less) 
    trustworthy.  There have been trouble with CA's of all types.

    A X509 certificate is a big integer number, in a fancy wrapper.  Its not a 
    magical object.

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