[cryptography] European report says many crypto protocols have problems

Peter Gutmann pgut001 at cs.auckland.ac.nz
Sun Nov 3 19:40:26 EST 2013


Sandy Harris <sandyinchina at gmail.com> writes:

>Cited in a comment on Schneier's blog:
>https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/10/nsa_eavesdroppi_2.html
>
>Register article with link to actual report:
>http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/31/most_security_protocols_insecure_suggests_enisa/

The original paper was written by some very smart cryptographers.  And that's
the problem, it was written by cryptographers, not security engineers.  If I
wanted to run crypto on a whiteboard, I'd definitely follow the
recommendations in the paper.  However, looking at systems deployed in
practice... well, I'll refer people to the Crypto Gardening Guide and Planting
Tips, http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/crypto_guide.txt, and in
particular Questions I and J and the Final Thoughts.

Beyond that, there are other problems with the recommendation.  For example it
strongly recommends DLP algorithms over RSA.  DLP is great on a whiteboard but
extremely brittle in practice, since the entire family has a distressing
propensity to leak the private key if you get even the tiniest implementation
detail wrong.  Then it deprecates PKCS #1 v1.5 (which pretty much the entire
planet uses) because it doesn't have a security proof, while recommending a
bunch of exotic alternatives that more or less nothing uses.

So what I'd be interested in seeing in response to this report is another one
written by security engineers which makes recommendations on what's practical
in real life rather than on a whiteboard.  For example, we have several
billion SSL/TLS apps deployed (every PC, laptop, tablet, and smartphone has
one, not to mention any number of embdded devices, the figure "several
billion" is not an exaggeration), how should we configure those to provide the
best security possible?

(NB: I am not volunteering to write this report :-).

Peter.


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