[cryptography] Diginotar Lessons Learned (long)

Fredrik Henbjork fredrik.henbjork.maillist at gmail.com
Tue Sep 6 17:34:11 EDT 2011

On 2011-09-06, at 23:10 , Lucky Green wrote:

> I can't help but chuckle about Diginotar's very public display of
> security incompetence. I mean, who in our line of work can be expected
> to keep a straight face when reading gems such as this one taken from
> the report by Diginotar's incidence response rapporteur:
> "The separation of critical components was not functioning or was not in
> place. We have strong indications that the CA-servers, although
> physically very securely placed in a tempest proof environment, were
> accessible over the network from the management LAN.
> The network has been severely breached. All CA servers were members of
> one Windows domain, which made it possible to access them all using one
> obtained user/password combination".
> http://www.rijksoverheid.nl/bestanden/documenten-en-publicaties/rapporten/2011/09/05/diginotar-public-report-version-1/rapport-fox-it-operation-black-tulip-v1-0.pdf

Here's another gem related to the subject. In 2003 CAcert wished to have
their root certificate added to Mozilla's browser, and in the resulting
discussion in Bugzilla, Mozilla cryptodeveloper Nelson Bolyard had the
following to say:

"I have no opinion about the worthyness of the particular CA being
proposed in this bug.  I don't know who it is yet.  But my question would be: 

Does webtrust "attest" to this CA?

I think that should be one of the criteria.

PKI is about TRUST.  All root CAs that are trusted for (say) SSL service
are trusted EQUALLY for that service.  If we let a single CA into mozilla's
list of trusted CAs, and they do something that betrays the publics' trust,
then there is a VERY REAL RISH that the public will lose ALL FAITH in
the "security" (the lock icon) in mozilla and its derivatives.  

We don't want that to happen.  If that happens,  mozilla's PKI becomes
nothing more than a joke.   If you want to see mozilla's PKI continue to
be taken seriously, you will oppose allowing un attested CAs into
mozilla's list of trusted root CAs."


Given the recent CA stories, I can't help but smile at that comment...

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