Feeds

back to article IE, Chrome, Safari duped by bogus PayPal SSL cert

If you use the Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Apple Safari browsers to conduct PayPal transactions, now would be a good time to switch over to the decidedly more secure Firefox alternative. That's because a hacker on Monday published a counterfeit secure sockets layer certificate that exploits a gaping hole in a Microsoft …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Bronze badge

EULA

Are Microsoft really bothered? Well it's not like they have a reputation for providing secure software to defend, and their, and I paraphrase... this software is not guaranteed fit for purpose disclaimer in the EULA mitigates any legal action one may wish to take against them.

They have been aware of this for over two months, there is no fix, there have been no warnings issued by Microsoft that I am aware of. You decide if they care.

More info:

http://www.linuxtoday.com/security/2009100102035NWNT

http://www.thoughtcrime.org/software/sslsniff/

0
0

does this affect....

....the EV green bar? Even if it doesn't, it's no less serious (I notice the green bar; I probably wouldn't notice its absence)

0
0
Bronze badge
FAIL

wouldn't it be nice...

If you had told us which money-grubbing CA signed this evil certificate?

0
0

Opera

Is Opera vulnerable ?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Opera?

Oh what a surprise, yet another browser security article that doesn't mention Opera and ushers everyone toward Firefox, despite shoe horning Opera into any negative piece about the EU and MS.

0
0
Go

PayPal

I loved Opera.

Do I dare use it again?

It seems to me no worse than other browsers.

What is better, it's more intuitive.

Seems to know what I seek,

even before I do.

0
0

WTF has the author been smoking

Unfortunately I have to share this with you, why is it Microsofts fault?

Did they script the fraudulent certificate?

Perhaps you, and anyone who thinks like you, might actually like to focus on the real cause of the problem, which to your utter dismay is not Microsoft. Why don't you spend some of your vitriolic hatred of Microsoft on the real perpetrators of the problem.

Focusing the attention elsewhere is poor journalism, and also shows to some extent poor moral standards. Spend some effort removing the real problem, perhaps an attempt at getting the fraudulent site down might have been a better use of your time.

0
0
Alert

providers

OK, I remember the story about some ssl providers failing to parse the input string in cert requests, and issuing null-prefix certs.

1. I thought that the "trusted root" provideres would fix this within 24 hours. 2.Then they would search for null-prefix certs that had already been issued, and revoke them all. 3.Then MS and other OSes would publish some kind of blacklist patch.

But it's been a while, and it sounds like none of the three have happened (or at least 1+2+MS).

Question for anyone with the proper knowledge:

Does this hack only apply to certs that have been issued by "trusted root" authorities, or can anyone with openssl create a null-prefix cert that would fool these browsers on windows?

0
0

Yet another Windows Security Problem

Not a BROWSER problem that affects other platforms.

0
0
FAIL

@Neal 5

Sir, you are clearly not a software engineer, but possibly a troll.

Software must be able to cater for garbage input and reject it. This is a basic tenet of software engineering best practice.

The fault here is two-fold. First, the granter of the certificate hasn't tested their software properly, and are issuing faulty certificates based on invalid data. Second, Microsoft's Crypto API suffers from exactly the same problem, not sanitising its input. So it's a big FAIL on your part to try and point the blame somewhere else, although where exactly is not clear.

<smug mode>Not a problem on my Mac or Linux boxes</smug mode>

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@Neal 5

The article mentioned a demonstration of the vulnerability in CryptoAPI which does not currently check for null-prefixed strings. There was an example given of how to create a certificate, but no actual site which is exploiting this - there was no site for the author to take down.

The real problem is the perpetuators (not perpetrators). This would appear to be any certificate issuing authorities who do not handle these strings correctly, and companies providing cryptographic APIs which also do not handle these strings correctly. The latter group includes Microsoft, who appear to have perpetuated the vulnerability for two months compared to, for example, the Firefox developers fixing it in several days. In this respect, they are fair game.

Why don't you spend some of your vitriolic hatred of anyone speaking against Microsoft on actually reading - and perhaps understanding - the article?

0
0
Stop

@adrian sietsma

Opera is pretty much the only browser that's not affected, but then it's always been the most secure browser.

0
0
FAIL

@Neal 5: Have you any experience in programming?

Obviously not. I you had you wouldn't post such garbage.

For your information: An operating system provides a large set of libraries that perform common functions and are accessed trhough Application Program Interfaces, or API for short. If a bug or malfunction exists in such a library, it is the responsibility of the provider to fix it.

I this case, it is the CryptoAPI, rsp the underlying code that has a flaw. This library is provided by Microsoft, that's why it is their task to fix it. Simple as that.

So the only one who is vitriolic is you.

0
0
Boffin

@Simpson

The certificate must be signed by a "trusted" CA to pass validation, so no you can't just make your own.

I put 'trusted' in quotes because I've looked the the default list of trusted providers and I don't trust 99.9% of them, and I'm not sure about the other 0.1%

But yes, this sounds like just the thing that CRL was built for, and they're not using it... shows that the CAs are not interested in security, just profits. It should be trivial for them to fix, even retrospectively.

But then the other point is that you have to be heading to the fake server to be fooled, which means your DNS is already compromised so you could argue that you're screwed anyway.

For people that don't follow that, this isn't your typical phishing technique - you can't just get someone to follow a malicious link; the browser has to _think_ it's going to paypal, but the traffic must be intercepted/diverted somewhere.

0
0

is Opera effected

No reply received yet to the earlier question.... Is Opera effected by this bug ?

0
0
WTF?

Factual inaccuracies - "following the \ and 0 characters"

"following the \ and 0 characters"...

No. Those are not two characters '\' and '0', that is the single character NUL which has the byte value of zero. This denotes the end of a textual string in many programming languages including C and C++. Since this can't be easily displayed and often confuses software, it has to be escaped so that programmers can type it, thus the '\0' notation. Also used, and identical, is \x00, for example.

0
0

PayPal BS

"We're working to see if there are any technical workarounds on the PayPal side which can be put into place,"

Oh yeah, how? The whole point of the fraudulent page is that it is not anything to do with PayPal.

We'll find a technical workaround for a transaction that never actually hits our site???

0
0
Silver badge

Neal 5

It is Microsoft's fault for twiddling their thumbs for nine weeks while a critical security vulnerability exists in their library. Other vendors supplied a patch to a critical security issue in a timely fashion so why haven't Microsoft? Haven't MS been crowing about how much more security focused they are these days?

This isn't some minor typographic error, it is an extremely serious issue that seriously undermines the trust model that every secure website depends on. In other companies this would spark a firedrill and command their maximum attention until it was fixed.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@Neal 5

Of course it's not there fault! Just because they write some software with a huge security hole in it, they can't know that someone's going to take advantage of that! I think it's damn mean of those nasty hackers to go around taking advantage of innocent coding mistakes!

0
0
Thumb Down

@Neal5

To answer your questions you should re-read the article and understand before posting.

Microsoft wrote the CryptoAPI which processes the certificate. It erroneously ignores any characters after a /0 character in a certificate. It should not do this.

This allows people to create a certificate which can be exploited in the way described, and windows users running the noted browsers will not be alerted that the certificate was not actually issued for the wesbite they have in the address bar.

This is microsoft's fault. They should fix it.

0
0
Go

"this software is not guaranteed fit for purpose"

"this software is not guaranteed fit for purpose disclaimer in the EULA mitigates any legal action one may wish to take against them."

has that ever actually been tested in a court where a precedent may be set? After all, folks are still arguing whether shrinkwrap software is licenced or sold, and if the lawyers can't even agree on that, what chance is there in terms of consumer rights, unfair contracts legislation, etc?

0
0
Thumb Down

More flogging of Firefox, drubbing of Opera

Well I guess it's business as usual at Vulture Central, with Dan Goodin once again writing (like he did 4 days ago on this same issue) as if Firefox is the saviour of the world, and mention of the only other major browser that is NOT vulnerable to this flaw (Opera) is nowhere to be found.

But we see plenty of negative trash on The Reg about Opera's campaign to highlight Microsoft's questionably-maintained browser marketshare. (With little explanation of the little detail that Opera is the ONLY major independent browser maker that A) has a direct financial interest in Microsoft's antitrust activities since it relies on browser revenues to survive, and B) doesn't itself own an OS and PC/phone business to bundle its product with.)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

@ Neal 5

Neal, love, try reading the first sentence of the fourth paragraph again. I know it has some big words, so do feel free to come back with any you don't understand and we'll try to walk you through them.

0
0

Vitriolic hatred?

I don't think anyone whose primary job is to shift virtual column-inches is prone to 'vitriolic hatred'. (Although, saying that, I suspect Goodin has been branded guilty of vitriolic hatred by just about anyone who doesn't like stories about Windows vulnerabilities, Linux botnets, or Mac users getting infected by viruses. In fact, I know he has, because you can Google about it. The blogosphere positively seethes with 'Online journalist called my computer a poof!' style commentary in response to such articles. You could almost say it amounted to 'vitriolic hatred', at times!)

Meanwhile, businessweek, cnet, zdnet, and probably even Fox news will love it - because they'll quote this entire article, almost verbatim (and let's face it, that was the original aim). So, what's the author been smoking? Dollar bills, perhaps. The only poor journalism, is the kind of journalism no one reads.

Truth is, however, three different browsers are susceptible to a vulnerability in a shared Windows library - for which the fix appears to amount to little more than a call to Regex.Replace, in the correct location.

Opera and Firefox certainly seem to think so, since they have both demonstrated that it is possible.

So, is it Microsoft's fault ("did they script the fraudulent certificate")? Clearly no.

But is the world full of people scripting fraudulent certificates, however? Clearly yes.

Are millions of out of date or invalid certificates being used - even by legitimate websites? Clearly yes.

Is this One Hell of a Mess? Clearly yes.

Would you like your browser vendor to actually do something about it, or just sit on their hands and say 'Not me gov: the Internets is broken'?

I'll leave you to answer that last one.

0
0
Thumb Down

Never let the truth get in the way of a good headline

"If you use the Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Apple Safari browsers [on Windows]..."

The vast majority of Safari users are on OS X, and so apparently unaffected by this exploit - but of course you should never let the truth get in the way of a good headline.

0
0
Flame

@neil 5

"Unfortunately I have to share this with you, why is it Microsofts fault?"

Because the CryptoAPI appears to have a security hole.

<quote>

The certificate exploits a security hole in a Microsoft application programming interface known as the CryptoAPI, which is used by the IE, Google Chrome and Apple Safari for Windows browsers to parse a website's SSL certificates....

</quote>

Can we PLEASE have a RTFA icon ?

0
0

It's Microsoft's fault because...

...some developer decided to use a C string operation (which is terminated by the appearance of the first 0x00 in the string) on an ASN.1 string data type. ASN.1 data structures are TLV (type, length, value). SInce the length of the string is specified in the encoding, the appearance of a null within the string shouldn't stop the processing of that string before its end is reached.

0
0
Joke

Does it matter?

So, what difference does it make if you end up handing over your hard earned plastic to a bunch of crooks rather than the organised gang who forged this certificate?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Lengthy sentence

If this was someone hacking into bank systems, or NASA or the US Military then, then various agencies would be doing summersaults to find them and prosecute them. I can understand it if someone finds a security breach, they should tell the relevant people, but to publish online to all and sundry is just criminal. They should be found, locked up for a long time. At the same time, MS, Apple and all should be under obligation to warn users that there is a problem.

0
0
Pint

It won't affect me

surely this exploit goes over to the Comodo-bashers and, in addition, will never affect me as I don't click on links and don't have any bookmarks.

If I go to PayPal or any other SSL site, it's because I typed the URL into my browser.

But this goes towards a different question - is an SSL certificate proof of anything but a certificate existing?

I can't think of a decent icon for this one so I'll use the beer icon :-)

0
0

Errr...Neal 5

I don't think anyone is blaming MS for the fraudulent certificate. They are blaming them for ignoring the problem. Mozilla already fixed it. What's keeping MS?

0
0

ONLY on Windows!

"If you use the Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Apple Safari browsers--ON WINDOWS--during PayPal transactions, now would be a good time to switch over to the decidedly more secure Firefox alternative."

There. Fixed it for you.

-dZ.

0
0
Silver badge
Jobs Horns

@Neal 5

"Unfortunately I have to share this with you, why is it Microsofts fault?

Did they script the fraudulent certificate?

Perhaps you, and anyone who thinks like you, might actually like to focus on the real cause of the problem, which to your utter dismay is not Microsoft. Why don't you spend some of your vitriolic hatred of Microsoft on the real perpetrators of the problem."

So not checking for the null prefix in the crypto API that they wrote isn't Microsoft's fault?

What fucking planet are you living on sir?

That's like saying MS aren't responsible for the numerous buffer overflow attacks their OS's have been susceptible to throughout history purely because they didn't launch the attack.

Get a grip man it's the coder's responsibility to check the input for garbage/malicious info. They wrote the shit.

How can I put it any easier for you to grasp that if the purpose of the code is to check the validity of a certificate then any certificate it says is valid should be so. Get it?

0
0
Thumb Up

Just don't use Paypal

I never use Paypal and I surf with Opera.

So I feel well safe.

0
0
Coat

Mines the Quantum Crypto ASIC

Stuff all this software nonesense.

0
0
Bod
Bronze badge
Stop

@Windows Rants

Of course the hundreds of patches to internal SSL libraries and the like on linux (and likely OS X), which fix very similar "holes", seem to go by with little fanfare and vitriol.

They all make the same mistakes. Judging by the regularity of security patches I've seen on my linux server, I'd say some make more mistakes than Microsoft ;)

0
0

@adrian sietsma,Anonymous Coward8.52, etc

Firefox has fixed the problem, without MS doing anything, ergo this isn't an OS problem, or a cryptoAPI problem, it's a browser problem.

So no, I'm not a software expert, and to be blunt I don't need to be, however I can read, and I can think.

Perhaps you guys could remove your heads from your asses, and actually construct a criticism that is actually relevant to the issue, which is BROWSER related, quite obviously, or if it isn't, perhaps it is the OS, so why don't you all just f+++ off to a Mac, or a Linux system, and actually have to employ your brains for once, if they aren't yet frazzled by the commute to the front door.

Quite frankly, the article is nothing more than a sales pitch for Firefox. I get enough spam in my inbox already, thank you very much.

0
0
Oz
Troll

@ Neal 5

"That's because a hacker on Monday published a counterfeit secure sockets layer certificate that exploits a gaping hole in a Microsoft library used by all three of those browsers"

Gaping hole in a MS library.... Mozilla have patched their browser, which presumably means it intercepts the call to the library and rejects it if necessary. Therefore I would suggest that it is a Microsoft issue after all. The other vendors could do the same, but it still won't resolve the underlying issue in the MS code.

0
0
Boffin

Yes, it's a CryptoAPI problem - but Firefox doesn't use it.

"Firefox has fixed the problem, without MS doing anything, ergo this isn't an OS problem, or a cryptoAPI problem, it's a browser problem."

No, it's an OS problem with the CryptoAPI. As far as I know, Firefox still uses its own cryptographic libraries rather than the OS-provided ones, so they can fix the bug themselves. (Remember that Firefox is (a) based on Netscape, which predates widespread OS support for crypto, and (b) designed to be portable across different operating systems.) The other browsers, however, do use Microsoft's CryptoAPI and that's where the vulnerability has to be fixed.

0
0
Happy

Last Word ?

@neil 5: "the Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Apple Safari browsers"

MS wouldn't have written any of those, would they ?

Either way, MS have a problem.

ps Yes, the author of the article is a one-eyed Firefox zealot, but he'll get over it one day.

<Smug> Written by a long-time Opera user. </Smug>

Now let's all have a nice cup of tea.

0
0
Silver badge

Neal 5 (again)

Yes it is an OS problem. Many software applications rely on CryptoAPI. These applications HAVE NO WAY WHATSOEVER OF FIXING THIS ISSUE. They rely on Microsoft to fix their subsystem and it is Microsoft's responsibility to do so in a timely and measured fashion. If they sit on their backsides (as they have) while other vendors who use alternate APIs manage to fix the issue, then Microsoft is the one being tardy.

And if this article is a sales pitch for Firefox, it is only insofar as it highlights the difference in attitude between Mozilla (and Apple) vs Microsoft when faced with a web-breaking critical vulnerability.

0
0

@DrXym

Yep, widen the argument out if you must, however cryptoAPI isn't the interface with the web, IE is.

At others who still persist, to be fair, if the author had written the article to say for eg, only safari was affected, would you all be jumping on Apple's or MS's back.

I'm sorry, in my opinion, and as written by the author, this IS a BROWSER issue, not an OS issue.

CrptoAPI isn't broken. the browsers are broken, and all those who harpen on about the OS being broken are wrong.

Now I agree that IE is crap, but to be fair so are all the other options available. perhaps hardening up the interfaces with the web is the route to be looking at. If you still don't follow that, if I run my computer without connecting to the web, am I at risk from fraudulent sites, NO.

The real truth you can't all face, lazy/malicious web site coders, fraudulent in part populace, and unknowleadgable users.

The OS is fine, the web, it's users, and abusers aren't. Mozilla, whatever system it runs on, has to make calls to the OS. Fix the browsers once and for all, including Apple, Opera and Mozilla.Don't just blame MS for the criminal activities and intents of others.

Look in your own hearts first, or not, just blame MS because society is f'ed up. No, the responsibility lies equally with the web's users. Perhaps adjustments to your attitudes are needed too.

0
0
Bronze badge

@DrXym

"Yes it is an OS problem. Many software applications rely on CryptoAPI. These applications HAVE NO WAY WHATSOEVER OF FIXING THIS ISSUE."

Sort of. They rely on Microsofts Crypto API, but they don't HAVE to. They could write their own code. You'll notice that Mozilla and Opera don't have this problem because they aren't lazy and don't rely on buggy MS code.

0
0
Bronze badge

@Neal 5

Yup it is the fault of every coder that uses MS API's, MS are blameless. All developers should write their own DLL's, crypto routines, disk handling code, TCP/IP stacks, GUI's, kernel etc, etc. In fact, developers should completely bypass ALL MS code altogether just to be on the safe side. Which raises questions such as... What's the point of an MS OS in the first place? And if there is a point, why does MS allow third party developers to use their DLL's anyway? Ah, so it is Microsoft's fault for allowing developers to use MS code in their applications, but wait a minute isn't it the fault of developers for using MS API's in the first place.

Perhaps developers need a trusted base for which to write applications, or should every application come with it's own OS? Like you allude to, it is the developers fault for trusting such shoddily written, bug ridden and insecure code such as that provided by MS and not writing their own underlying OS to protect their applications from exploitation.

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Down

@Neal 5

***"So no, I'm not a software expert, and to be blunt I don't need to be, however I can read, and I can think."***

***"CrptoAPI isn't broken. the browsers are broken, and all those who harpen on about the OS being broken are wrong."***

And how does someone who is "not a software expert" decide that "CryptoAPI isn't broken"?

Did you gut a chicken and fondle its entrails, or something? Divine inspiration? Astrology? Or just a lucky guess?

0
0
Happy

Popcorn please

I like this.

Being a smug linux and firefox user and of course never using Paypal as it is just a rip off, this means nowt to me. However reading the logic arguments for what is simply another MS not caring for it's customers once the customer has paid up for it, Like Vista, Home server and half a dozen other pieces of software they have made over the years. I find myself spitting tea over my keyboard and laughing out loud to the point my boss is looking.

Can we have a popcorn please icon for those readers of comments that just enjoy the tirade of trolls and the like who want to try and make this anything other than MS being slack.

0
0
Linux

They're all to blame

First of all this clearly is an MS problem with the CryptoAPI and affects many applications that use it, BUT I think Apple and Google must take the blame as well.

They take every opportunity to knock Microsoft over security issues and boast about how their browsers are better written and more secure, then they end up relying on a buggy API for one of the most critical security functions in a browser! Why did they not test this and identify the problem themselves before it was revealed in a Black Hat conference? Perhaps THEIR testing procedures are not up to scratch.

On the other hand why didn't they just avoid using untrusted MS APIs for such a critical function? Lazy programming perhaps? I think they should also take responsibility for putting their users at risk by using APIs from a company renowned insecure products (as Google and Apple like to remind us ad nauseum).

I also wonder if there are any other critical security features in their browsers that they have delegated responsibility to Microsoft's APIs? We should be told (actually, being a smug Linux/Firefox user I couldn't give a sh%t).

The point is should they be relying on MS APIs for anything beyond the user interface? And if they do then do they have the right be so smug about security problems in MS products?

0
0

@adnim,eponymous cowherd

exactly the very thing I'm talking about, jumped ignorant pricks, perhaps if YOU read the article instead of getting yourselves all wound up, crptoApi isn't broken, it has performed exactly as it should have, what is broken is the morality of the coder of the malicious website. And the browsers ability to detect fraudulent certificates, and no, not just an MS issue, but if you read carefully, and I know that the headline is in larger letters, so that SHOULD make it easier for you to read, although obviously nothing can be done about your comprehension.

As an aside, anonymouse coward 15.34. Perhaps you could enlighten me, MS code for Apple and for Google, please don't choke on your cup of tea, whilst you single handedly keep the economy running, your wages will have to fund our benefits.

Again, for all of you complaining about MS coding, why don't you all use an OS which is so obviously superior,and free, or would that involve you actually having to think. Of course, the plus side of that being, the instant removal of all crime on the internet, wouldn't it.

0
0
Silver badge

Simple

Neal 5 says: ". . . crptoApi isn't broken, it has performed exactly as it should have,"

People who complain about coding are making this much too complicated. I agree with Neal that code is not the real culprit here and we should simply get rid of all crime on the internet so we won't have to worry about vulnerabilities.

0
0

@Neal5

You are either a troll or thick as a plank when you write

"CrptoAPI isn't broken. the browsers are broken, and all those who harpen on about the OS being broken are wrong."

It processes characters in a string after the null character which it should not do so it is very broken. You said yourself that you weren't a programmer so when it has been pointed out that you don't know what you are talking about it would be wise to shut up.

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.