[cryptography] yet another certificate MITM attack

Kevin W. Wall kevin.w.wall at gmail.com
Sat Jan 12 18:11:37 EST 2013

On Sat, Jan 12, 2013 at 4:37 PM, Jeffrey Walton <noloader at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sat, Jan 12, 2013 at 2:35 PM, Kevin W. Wall <kevin.w.wall at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Whoa...hold on there Jeff. I'm hoping that I'm misunderstanding your
>> last statement about what the pen testers did to "destroy a secure
>> channel".
>> Are you implying that _authorized_ PenTesters using software such as
>> BurpSuite (or Fiddler2 or Paros Proxy, or any other software that
>> leverages the browser's _forward_ proxy ability is violation of some
>> law or morals? If so, I would wholeheartedly disagree. They are not
>> capturing arbitrary HTTPS traffic of others, but only that originating
>> from their
> http://arstechnica.com/security/2012/07/ios-in-app-purchase-service-hacked/.
> In this case, the user trusted the certificate and took control of
> infrastructure. The result: the developer possibly absorbed a
> financial loss.
> Note: there was no Jailbreak required, no re-engineering of the IPA
> required, and no low-level debugging required. The user trusted a
> proxy certificate and gave bad DNS answers through a server under
> his/her control. That was it.

Well, I think you made my point. This had nothing to do with "penetration
testing" or Burp Suite (AFAICT; the YouTube video from cited URL taken
down because of claims by Apple of *copyright* violations.)

Furthermore, while all the details are not available, this does not seem to be
using the same mechanisms (of browser's forward proxy) that Burp, Paros,
Fiddler2, etc. normally use. They generally have you run the proxy on some
localhost ports (8080 / 8443 are typical) and a self-signed certificate is
usually used to the SSL port of the proxy.  That doesn't mean that Borodin
himself didn't use something like Burp or Paros to figure out how it all worked,
but IMO, that's irrelevant to the whole pen testing angle. This is to be an
illegal (well, maybe not in Russia) hack exploiting an Apple vulnerability.
It most certainly is a violation of Apple's EULA and TOS.

I simply do not think it is fair to reference this specific case and then to
characterize the general use of proxies by *authorized* pen testers as
something illegal or immoral.

> Do you think the developer thought Apple's StoreKit API was secure?
> After all, Apple supplied the library. Do you think he cares why,
> since it was supposed to be secure?
> BTW, Apple did not fix the failure with technical controls such as
> public key pinning. Taking advantage of the pre-existing relation
> between the develop and Apple (using 'a priori' knowledge) must have
> been too secure (?).
> Instead, Apple gave the developers instructions on how to verify a
> purchase (i.e., implement this bit of PKI); and they sent their
> lawyers to do a takedown. Double fail.

I'm glad to see that you view this as a failure of Apple and not as
something you are blaming on pen testers "destroying a secure
communication channel" using something like BurpSuite. Whether or
not Borodin had make this exploit available to the masses, the vulnerability
still exists. If he would have only reported this to Apple would they
have addressed it? Given the way that they reacted with their army
of lawyers rather than having the developers fix the issues, I am doubtful.

Anyhow, this conversation is getting way OT for this mailing list so if
you want to take this discussion off-list, feel free to do so.

Blog: http://off-the-wall-security.blogspot.com/
"The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree,
is by accident. That's where we come in; we're computer professionals.
We *cause* accidents."        -- Nathaniel Borenstein

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