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Null-Prefix SSL Certificate For PayPal Released

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the don't-mess-with-mister-inbetween dept.

Security 351

An anonymous reader writes "Nine weeks after Moxie Marlinspike presented at Defcon 17, null-prefix certificates that exploit the SSL certificate vulnerability are beginning to appear. Yesterday, someone posted a null-prefix certificate for www.paypal.com on the full-disclosure mailing list. In conjunction with sslsniff, this certificate can be used to intercept communication to PayPal from all clients using the Windows Crypto API, for which a patch is still not available. This includes IE, Chrome, and Safari on Windows. What's worse, because of the OCSP attack that Moxie also presented at Defcon, this certificate cannot be revoked." Update: 10/06 23:19 GMT by KD: Now it seems that PayPal has suspended Marlinspike's account.

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351 comments

In other news... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664077)

...it is thought that more people are going to be using Macs' and Linux in the future.

Re:In other news... (2, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664215)

2010, Year of the Linux Desktop?

Re:In other news... (1)

skirtsteak_asshat (1622625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664357)

No no no, it's flying cars, THEN Linux desktop. Just read Balmers blog, it answers all these questions and more. This is precisely why I deleted all my certificates, and now manually verify each site line by line in a sandboxed 16bit hex. Did you know that Paypal is actually run by a guy named Moxie Marlinspike? This is a pretty elaborate prank, obviously.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664591)

We have flying cars already, but we also have an FAA, so we're stuck on the ground for the foreseeable future.

Re:In other news... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29665005)

OTOH, I don't have any Libertarians riding fireballs into my house.

Re:In other news... (3, Funny)

Dersaidin (954402) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664847)

Maybe if someone could use the SSL exploit to hijack the windows update service and use it to replace everyone's windows installs with linux.

Re:In other news... (0, Flamebait)

melikamp (631205) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664607)

Fuck Macs.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664963)

Have you ever gone back and read your own comment history? Fucking shameful.

Re:In other news... (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664745)

...it is thought that less people are going to be using PayPal in the future.

Heh... surprised? (1)

vintagepc (1388833) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664083)

Well, we can't say they didn't have enough time to at least try doing something about it...

Re:Heh... surprised? (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664147)

I don't see Firefox or Opera listed in the summary. Are they safe?

Re:Heh... surprised? (4, Informative)

Romancer (19668) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664305)

From the article:

Fortunately, Mozilla developers patched the hole a few days after Marlinspike's demo and Apple followed suit a few weeks later with Safari for OS X. That means if you're on Windows, the only way to protect yourself against this critical vulnerability is to use versions 3.5 or 3.0.13 or later of Firefox. At least until Microsoft fixes the CryptoAPI, whenever that may be.

Re:Heh... surprised? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664785)

From the information I can find online, Opera does not use the affected Windows Crypto API.

Yay Choices! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664111)

Thank God I use Firefox!

(More importantly, I have IE 8, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera all installed - that way I can use whichever one is safest each week)

Re:Yay Choices! (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664185)

If you have IE 8 installed chances are you have Windows. Switch to OS X, Linux or another non-Windows platform and your risks of being infected will drop dramatically (yeah, it might be security through obscurity, but it works well enough not to get viruses so long as you aren't a complete idiot).

Re:Yay Choices! (4, Informative)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664439)

Using a less targeted platform is not security through obscurity [wikipedia.org] , at least not in the conventional sense of the term.
This is a nice definition [softlab.ntua.gr] :

Security Through Obscurity (STO) is the belief that a system of any sort can be secure so long as nobody outside of its implementation group is allowed to find out anything about its internal mechanisms. Hiding account passwords in binary files or scripts with the presumption that "nobody will ever find it" is a prime case of STO.

For shits and grins here is a slashdot feature on the topic [slashdot.org] ; the first couple of paragraphs should make the usage clear. In fact he even goes on to point out that it can not be used by opensource software.

Re:Yay Choices! (4, Informative)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664475)

Or just use Firefox. Wow, that's a lot easier!

Re:Yay Choices! (5, Insightful)

Excelsior (164338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664867)

I am not a security expert, but does switching to Firefox really solve the issue? For browsing, sure. But everyone is saying this is part of the core crypto API in Windows. Certs are used in more things than just IE.

When the app you want to install says it is signed by Microsoft, Mozilla, or Nullsoft, can you still be sure that it really is? Can you be sure the Windows Update software is actually retrieving updates without a man-in-the-middle?

I really don't know the answers to these questions. But I would be surprised if switching to Firefox is a cure to a bug in the core Win32 apis. Helpful: yes. A solution: probably not.

Re:Yay Choices! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664599)

Great advice! Oh, but how come my software doesn't work now and I have to plug in my wired ethernet card to get on the network? Hmm, randomly suggesting that folks whose needs you don't know or understand switch to some other OS doesn't always help anyone.

The OP may in fact be a great candidate for Linux. Or, they may have already researched it and found their needs to be better met by Windows. You don't know as there wasn't enough information to determine that.

I'm personally running Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Ubuntu. Never had any infections on any of them. It isn't hard to have a fairly secure Windows machine as long as you are running a current version.

So let me get this right... (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664113)

The people who need to make sure to get everything secure in order to for the web to function have waited longer than -9 weeks- to get something fixed? When the thing was presented at... Defcon? What else do these people have to do other than fix these -major- flaws. When something is shown at Defcon, BlackHat, HOPE or any other major security conference, the first thing for these people to do would be to fix the flaw. 9 weeks is inexcusable.

Re:So let me get this right... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664213)

Actually, this attack has been known a lot longer than that.

I'm really glad the security product we developed uses OpenSSL even on Windows. The MS Crypto API was greatly desired at the time because it made the binary distribution a lot smaller. Originally everything was developed using OSSL because our stuff is cross-platform. Good thing we never found the time to switch over to CAPI on Windows.

Re:So let me get this right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664437)

Well on the bright side, when Microsoft gets around to issuing a patch, everything that uses the API gets fixed, right?
It seems like a pretty good idea except for the whole closed-source reliant-on-a-single-notoriously-slow-and-insecure-vendor issue. Even so, having to wait for one software vendor to take action beats having to wait for all of them.

Re:So let me get this right... (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664243)

Perhaps it's a bit like being a crowd and someone gets shot... everyone knows an ambulance needs to be called right away, but they stand there looking at each other thinking, "should I make the call?". Diffusion of responsibility?

Re:So let me get this right... (4, Interesting)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664279)

But it's pretty clear who's responsibility it is. Microsoft needs to update the Windows Crypto API. Mozilla products are already patched.

Re:So let me get this right... (5, Interesting)

bertok (226922) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664639)

The people who need to make sure to get everything secure in order to for the web to function have waited longer than -9 weeks- to get something fixed? When the thing was presented at... Defcon? What else do these people have to do other than fix these -major- flaws. When something is shown at Defcon, BlackHat, HOPE or any other major security conference, the first thing for these people to do would be to fix the flaw. 9 weeks is inexcusable.

The problem is that this is not just some buffer overflow where you can replace single function call with an equivalent function call that does a safety length check. Security holes that depend on '\0' characters in strings exploit a systematic flaw in the Windows API design: the mix of two entirely different and incompatible types of strings all over the place. The 'native NT' API uses Unicode strings with an explicit length, but the Win32 API and C/C++ libraries usually use null-terminated strings. The dirty compromise is to use null-terminated strings together with an explicit length. Naively, one would think that this is now compatible with both, but it isn't - the NT API strings are a superset of the C-style API strings, because they can contain \0 characters, which the latter cannot handle.

This is a glaring flaw, has been known for many years, and will probably never get completely fixed. The SysInternals guys wrote a nice article about it once, I think, but I can't find it any more. It's lost in the mists of time. It's been exploited repeatedly too. You can create files and registry entries with \0 in them, and then none of the user-mode tools will be able to modify or delete those, including Explorer and the command-line tools. Viruses and other malware make use of this 'feature' often.

What really shits me is that Microsoft hasn't learned a thing. They talk big about security, but it's just talk. For example, the entire ASP.NET API suffers from a similar mismatch of encodings flaw: All of the data binding controls fail to properly HTML encode strings coming from a database. This makes virtually all ASP.NET applications ripe for exploits via XSS or other script injection attacks. The one time I wrote an ASP.NET app, I had to spend weeks going through and replacing all of the simple-looking bind statements with explicit calls to a method that would both bind and encode. Even in the upcoming 4.0 release, the flaw is still there. I suspect that it won't ever get fixed.

If Microsoft can sit on a related security holes for years, don't hold your breath for a patch for this one. Even if they do fix it, I suspect they'll do something half-assed, like create a patch for IE only, instead of the cryptographic subsystem as a whole.

Re:So let me get this right... (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664777)

All of the data binding controls fail to properly HTML encode strings coming from a database. This makes virtually all ASP.NET applications ripe for exploits via XSS or other script injection attacks. The one time I wrote an ASP.NET app, I had to spend weeks going through and replacing all of the simple-looking bind statements with explicit calls to a method that would both bind and encode. Even in the upcoming 4.0 release, the flaw is still there. I suspect that it won't ever get fixed.

To be fair, that's the kind of thing Microsoft really can't fix: plenty of people depend on outputting HTML stored in the database, and making escaping the default would break these users. We can debate the usefulness of Microsoft's compatibility-über-alles approach, but you can't fix that problem and preserve backward compatibility.

Re:So let me get this right... (3, Informative)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29665001)

In fact, most SDK's out there would likely have a similar "flaw". In Java land you need to do the escaping yourself, and there isn't a built-in function to do XML or HTML escaping. You just need to know to handle it.

Re:So let me get this right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664851)

As another reply stated, this is something that can't be readily fixed. There are legitimate cases where you want to output raw HTML from the database. Blindly encoding data is bad. A better option would be a flag to the bind command that specifies whether to encode the data. You could even argue for a flag in web.config that sets the binding to encode by default, and you have to choose to display the data unencoded.

A blanket statement that all "ASP.Net application are ripe for exploits" is naive.

Re:So let me get this right... (4, Insightful)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664907)

For example, the entire ASP.NET API suffers from a similar mismatch of encodings flaw: All of the data binding controls fail to properly HTML encode strings coming from a database. This makes virtually all ASP.NET applications ripe for exploits via XSS or other script injection attacks.

I would be pretty upset if everything I pulled from DB was automagically HTML encoded. I protect against XSS where it needs to be done. There are places where HTML encoding your data would not work. I do, however, always use parameterized inserts to protect against sql injection on top of an appropriate string cleaning function. Few things aggravate me like shitty ad-hoc inserts and the absence of string cleaning tied to a client-driven interface.

Re:So let me get this right... (1, Informative)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664959)

I just tried it with ASP.Net 2.0. A TextBox, HTMLInputText, div, and span control all escaped HTML properly. A Label did not properly escape the Text property. I can't think of very many situations where you would use user supplied values for label text, that a span wouldn't be more appropriate for. By default TextBoxes don't allow HTML to be submitted at all. BTW, ASP.Net 2.0 is four years old.

Re:So let me get this right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664975)

"All of the data binding controls fail to properly HTML encode strings coming from a database."

I think this is incorrect. In-line code statements like will not be automagically encoded. As mentioned, this would prevent needed functionality.

However, if you bind to the Text property of an ASP.NET control such as asp:label, it will be HtmlEncoded for you. Likewise for textfields in gridviews and such.

Re:So let me get this right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29665073)

"You can create files and registry entries with \0 in them, and then none of the user-mode tools will be able to modify or delete those,"

None of the *STANDARD* user-mode tools, yes. But there's a SysInternals tool which can nuke 'em [microsoft.com] .

(As for the ASP.Net issue, yeah well, whether to HTML Encode should be a property of the data-binding. It's sometimes approprate and sometimes not. Same as you may want to bind a 'decimal' to a label, but you want to control the formatting so it looks like a currency value - whether to HTML Encode should be set likewise.)

Wow? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664129)

Moxie Marlinspike - that's a goblin name if I ever saw one.

Re:Wow? (4, Informative)

captnbmoore (911895) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664253)

You do know what a marlinspike is right? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marlinspike [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wow? (2, Insightful)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664827)

You do know what a marlinspike is right?

Yeah, it's the place where Captain Haddock lives. (I'm sorry, I know what the actual object is, but my childhood Tintin reading and viewing has forever fused the word "marlinspike" to the word "hall".)

What about the CA that issued it? (5, Interesting)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664227)

With CNs like www.paypal.com\0ssl.secureconnection.cc

Shouldn't the CA who issued the certificate bear *some* of the blame here?

It just seems logical....

Re:What about the CA that issued it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664341)

Yes, the ideal solution is to revoke the entire upstream chain and re-issue new certificates to anyone affected.

Re:What about the CA that issued it? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664397)

But regular expressions are hard!

Idiot or Shill (-1, Troll)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664507)

It is M$ again, and you are an idiot, see the report, the cert WAS valid as issued and then patched

and 9 weeks later that wonder of the modern world is sitting with isnt thumb up its bum ruminating.

This all down to M$ and no one else.

www.paypal.com\0ssl.secureconnection.cc

its not \0 it is the null byte binary 00000000

Re:What about the CA that issued it? (5, Insightful)

ekhben (628371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664971)

Ahh, you've discovered why SSL on the web is fundamentally broken -- CAs have no incentive to act responsibly, since their customers are certificate requestors, not relying parties. And certificate requestors like CAs who don't have heavy process and high fees.

I believe the only way forward is for browsers to change the model: associate a certificate SKI with a web site on first visit, warn if that changes. Don't worry about certificate validity, since the hierarchical trust model has been compromised from the root.

Re:What about the CA that issued it? (5, Interesting)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29665003)

CAs have no incentive to act responsibly, since their customers are certificate requestors, not relying parties. And certificate requestors like CAs who don't have heavy process and high fees.

Especially Comodo [theregister.co.uk] :

Five minutes later I was in the possession of a legitimate certificate issued to mozilla.com - no questions asked - no verification checks done - no control validation - no subscriber agreement presented, nothing

Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (0)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664273)

This includes IE, Chrome, and Safari on Windows. What's worse, because of the OCSP attack [CC] that Moxie also presented at Defcon, this certificate cannot be revoked."

It irks me how much Microsoft and Google products depend on Windows components.

I'm an avid nLiter [nliteos.com] for my own personal computers. Google uses BITS for updates, and apparently MS Crypto too. This is all stuff that I strip out entirely, because just about all non-Microsoft non-Google software works fine without it.

If there's one thing I've learned about software development, it's that if you depend on system APIs, you're more likely to get attacked. After all, every Windows computer has such libraries, so why wouldn't hackers target it? Short of heavily modified/nLited XP computers, you'd have a 100% attack base if you can find an exploit in the component, or a way to exploit that component's behaviour.

As a developer, if you have an option about what you use to handle something... like crypto or updates... code it yourself and code it properly, or go for a third party library. (perhaps open source) XML Parsing? Code it yourself or use a third party lib, but DO NOT use MS XML parsing. You're asking for trouble if you do!

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664309)

This has to be the worst advice I've ever heard.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664647)

I don't know.

Treat niggers like real people would definately be up there.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664365)

Install less software to protect yourself?

Yeah, that's like wearing little armor to be able to dodge all enemy attacks. You have to know what the hell you are doing, and even then it can still be disasterous.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664869)

Install less software to protect yourself?

Yeah, that's like wearing little armor to be able to dodge all enemy attacks. You have to know what the hell you are doing, and even then it can still be disasterous.

It's more like parking fewer cars on the street in north jersey - every app is a way to be attacked.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29665047)

Install less software to protect yourself?

Use different software. There's a difference between not using anything, and preferring manually installed FOSS to Microsoft's solution.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (4, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664369)

NO! Don't roll your own crypto. This is madness!
*Kicks BikeHelmet into pit*

OpenSSL is available for windows; use that.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (2, Insightful)

True Vox (841523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664717)

Yeah, I'll just echo Sakdoctor... Being able to make "rolling your own crypto" a good idea is for a VERY rare breed of person... and even they generally don't like to do it.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29665091)

Hehe... it'd be a horrible idea for me. :D

But automatic updates and XML parsing are easy. I wouldn't expose an app to the vulnerabilities Microsoft's implementations provide.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (2, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29665083)

NO! Don't roll your own crypto. This is madness!

I'd never do that.

OpenSSL is available for windows; use that.

->

go for a third party library. (perhaps open source)

The rewrite it bit was actually referring to automatic updates and XML parsing. Those are pretty easy to implement properly in an app, without depending on Microsoft-coded services.

Apparently I'm 80% overrated, but that's also why a single exploit can affect so much software. Rather than using a third party lib, most devs just use whatever you stick in front of them. :/

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664373)

or go for a third party library.

Like the crypto and update functionality built in to the OS?

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664525)

GOD, THIS!

I wish Google would move away from depending on the crap there.
This is the one really weak part in the entire Chrome browser, depending on WINDOWS.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (2, Insightful)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664563)

It irks me how much Microsoft and Google products depend on Windows components.

So you are saying reinvent the wheel? Don't use the system resources at your disposal? Should we just all go back to DOS way of doing things?

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29665037)

So you are saying reinvent the wheel? Don't use the system resources at your disposal? Should we just all go back to DOS way of doing things?

No, use OpenSSL and other cross-platform libraries. Rather than having each *OS* reinvent the wheel.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29665053)

No, use OpenSSL and other cross-platform libraries. Rather than having each *OS* reinvent the wheel.

So in your book, a monoculture is okay so long as it's an open source monoculture?

OpenSSL's license is incompatible with the GPL, by the way, so we need at least two SSL libraries in the world.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664705)

What software do you develop? I want to make damn sure I never use it.

Re:Such dependancies annoy nLite users! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664735)

You are advocating security through obscurity. That may be a good thing here, or may not be. But it's worth pointing out either way.

Obligatory - All Your Base (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664285)

All Your Base - Are Intercepted BY US!
Set Up Us The Sassle!

Paypal uses an EV cert. (0, Troll)

Cerebus (10185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664335)

And since the null-termination cert *doesn't chain to an EV provider* it's not much of an exploit, really. No green bar, not safe.

Re:Paypal uses an EV cert. (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664387)

I'm pretty sure it's the null-prefix that is the issue. Furthermore, if it weren't an exploit, I doubt it would be worth all the hullabaloo.

Re:Paypal uses an EV cert. (2, Insightful)

dopodot (1559063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664589)

Do you really think the average user is going to notice a lack of green bar? Internet Explorer is going to accept this certificate as valid for https://www.paypal.com/ [paypal.com] and there will be no hints to the user that it's actually illegitimate. Unless there's some other mechanism in Internet Explorer that will notice it got an EV cert in the past and is no longer getting it, then this cert is entirely usable for a man in the middle.

Re:Paypal uses an EV cert. (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664765)

Do you really think the average user is going to notice a lack of green bar? Internet Explorer is going to accept this certificate as valid for https://www.paypal.com/ [paypal.com] and there will be no hints to the user that it's actually illegitimate.

There are some things that should be taught in every school in America. Just as there are mandatory classes in sex education and home economics, there ought to be a mandatory class (at least a short one) about basic computer safety. This isn't a complete list, but it's a start:

  • Never type a password into a site unless you see a lock icon in your browser.
  • If you're used to seeing a green bar, and it disappears*, something is wrong.
  • Don't click "ignore" when your computer gives you some gibberish about a certificate. That means something is wrong.
  • Never open emailed attachments.
  • Never click "yes" to dialogs you weren't expecting.
  • Really, there is no prince wanting to give you millions of dollars for nothing.
  • ...No, this particular prince isn't different.
  • The dancing bunny [codinghorror.com] isn't worth seeing.
  • If a site asks you for personal information, ask yourself, "is this the kind of site that would legitimately ask for this kind of information?"

* browsers should warn about this case.

Re:Paypal uses an EV cert. (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664929)

"Never click "yes" to dialogs you weren't expecting."

Clearly you have never used Windows Vista.....

Re:Paypal uses an EV cert. (1)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664985)

Whilst the above points should be taught at an early age, at present I can only see regular users paying attention to maybe points 1 and 2 above, the others are just more hassle than they're worth (in their opinion)

I like to consider myself pretty knowledgeable about computers and even I break at least one of those rules (I open emailed attachments)

Re:Paypal uses an EV cert. (1)

radish (98371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29665049)

Well seeing as you're logged into slashdot to post the comment, you probably broke rule 1 :)

(Sure - maybe there's an https login page for slashdot I don't know about but you get the point).

Re:Paypal uses an EV cert. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664691)

Actually this isn't true, please reference Alexander Sotirov and Mike Zusman's paper "Breaking The Myth's Of EV Certificates." It turns out that all you need is a valid DV cert (like this one) to spoof EV.

Re:Paypal uses an EV cert. (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664823)

Interesting summary [ivanristic.com] and paper [blackhat.com] . The gist of it is that EV-validating the main page doesn't help if it pulls in content that's protected by a weaker certificate.

I can't believe browsers do this. Just like there's a warning when a page protected by normal SSL includes unprotected content, there ought to be a warning about an EV-validated page including non-EV-validated content.

It's really terrifying how people who really should know better are negligent when it comes to browser security.

Re:Paypal uses an EV cert. (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664723)


*doesn't chain to an EV provider* it's not much of an exploit,*doesn't chain to an EV provider* it's not much of an exploit, really. No green bar, not safe. really. No green bar, not safe.

Have you lost your mind, or are you joking?

Assuming a rubber room is being prepared for you, I have to wonder why you would think anyone knows to look for green bars.

I might actually agree with you that this isn't a huge problem, but for very different reasons. MITM attacks are relatively hard to exploit. You're essentially limited to wireless networks, or hostile LANs. Also, this isn't a big deal since if you can already perform a MITM attack there's countless ways to trick the user into thinking the site is secure without even touching SSL.

this is no bode plot (1)

tach315 (223127) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664355)

We could already predicted new elements whats the big it's not really useful as a tool, maybe a teaching tool. Techniques like the bode plot or smith chart are useful.

Update (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664415)

Sounds like PayPal should be freezing everyone's account until this is fixed.

Re:Update (3, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664671)

Just anyone who has ever logged in from a Windows box running a browser other than Firefox.

"...PayPal has suspended Marlinspike's account." (5, Insightful)

magsol (1406749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664417)

Because that is totally going to fix the problem.

Re:"...PayPal has suspended Marlinspike's account. (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664435)

Because that is totally going to fix the problem.

It sure as hell will. They should have done that 9 weeks ago!

Re:"...PayPal has suspended Marlinspike's account. (5, Funny)

HeronBlademaster (1079477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664449)

If you don't shoot the bearers of bad news, people will keep bringing it to you.

Re:"...PayPal has suspended Marlinspike's account. (1)

dfay (75405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664957)

If you don't shoot the bearers of bad news, people will keep bringing it to you.

Awesome. This is a quote I'm going to remember for a long time!

No, but (0, Flamebait)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664565)

If you cause someone grief, don't expect them to be nice to you in return. That's just life. You can be as "correct" as you like, they still have the right to tell you to fuck off.

If you are an asshole to me, you'll find yourself banned from my house, my websites, etc, etc. Doesn't matter if you feel it was justified, or if you feel that you were "helping the world" with what you did. You cause me grief, you become persona non grata to me. I will not associate with you professionally or personally.

Same shit here. He's causing Paypal problems, and in fact will probably cost them business. I'm not surprised they aren't interested in doing business with him any more. He is well within his rights to publish about this vulnerability, they are well within their rights to refuse him service.

Re:No, but (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664747)

He is well within his rights to publish about this vulnerability, they are well within their rights to refuse him service.

They are not, however, within their rights to keep his money. He is within his rights to take them to the cleaners, sorry, courts

Re:No, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664757)

would you prefer he had kept it a secret, sold it to black hats and let them go wild on paypal without paypal finding out ?
hint: the right approach sometimes means you extend service to people you dont agree with even though they cause you short term pain. its long term gain you should be thinking about.

Re:No, but (4, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664927)

AFAIK, the law supports your position. But I really think we need to examine whether that's the kind of society we want. It's perfectly fine for a small business to arbitrarily refuse to have a relationship with a particular person. That person can go elsewhere, and the small business is only hurting itself. But large companies like PayPal are different. They form an integral part of the fabric of modern life. When one of these large companies denies service to an individual, that person's quality of life is reduced without an opportunity for rebuttal, or for a fair judgment by his peers. These companies have become de facto utilities, and just as the electric company cannot turn off your lights because of a personal grudge, PayPal should not be able to arbitrarily cripple your ability to send and receive money.

When a company gains quite a bit from being large enough to matter in this way; it should give something in return.

Was he really causing them grief? (1)

namespan (225296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664969)

If you cause someone grief, don't expect them to be nice to you in return

Was he causing them grief, really? The vulnerability existed whether he talked about it or not. Given that it's tied to some deep long-term issues with null-terminated strings, it's entirely credible to theorize that there are black hats that knew about it already, and his disclosure gave software developers a chance to do something about it. That keeps PayPal from having to deal with fraud and theft problems associated with the vulnerability. Hardly assholery.

And even if they're within their rights to behave this way, it's more troubling than the existence of vulnerabilities. Everybody makes mistakes, but retaliation every time anyone points one out doesn't build trust, it makes you look insecure and calls into question your ability to improve. How much do *you* trust a company whose response to criticism is to lean on those who level it?

And all this leaves aside the ethical issues inherent to any kind of retaliatory cessation of service. Losing your PayPal account isn't such a big deal, but there are other services for which this kind of behavior would grant heavily inequitable power to providers, particularly in markets where there's a small number of competitors or where the idea of blacklisting takes hold. It's one of the reasons why libertarianism will never, ever work anywhere near like its proponents like to imagine it will.

ow, retaliate! (5, Insightful)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664993)

If you cause someone grief, don't expect them to be nice to you in return.

Look at it this way: If a doctor jabs you with a mortally-needed anti-venom needle, do you have the right to tell him "Fuck off!"?

I suppose... "He caused me grief!" Yeah, okay. It's a bit of a simplistic metric, really, for determining what is a good response. Appropriate for a young child or a retard. Maybe not for a large corporation. Hopefully not for you.

It does matter what the person's intentions were.

Re:No, but (5, Insightful)

lilrobbie (1193045) | more than 4 years ago | (#29665035)

From Paypal's justification of their banning:
"We do not, however, allow PayPal to be used in the sale or dissemination of tools which have the sole purpose to attack customers and illegally obtain individual customer information," the spokeswoman, Sara Gorman, wrote in an email. "We consider whether there is any legitimate use in helping to strengthen the defenses of one's site when determining violation of our policy."

The problem with your statement is that he did not cause Paypal problems in the way that you think. He showed a widespread security flaw, using Paypal as an example... and Paypal suddenly decided that the tools he was producing "have the sole purpose to attack customers and illegally obtain individual customer information". This is a complete and utter load of bollix.

So yes, Paypal may not be happy they have a vulnerability... the same vulnerability that every other SSL cert user has I might add... but he was not breaking their TOS. What they did was infantile and very counter-productive.

This kind of behaviour means the only people that know the flaws in your system are the hackers who want to exploit them for nefarious means, rather than these researchers, who are doing it partially to "help the world", but also to HELP YOU.

I wouldn't trust a company who discourages security penetration testing and thorough investigations of their systems in these ways. Because you can bet your pants, the black-hat hackers will do their homework and find these flaws if our researchers don't.

Microsoft got it right? (1)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664527)

FTA :

"It won't work for exploiting the bug for software written with the WIN32 api, they don't accept (for good
reason) *!"

Como?

Video Of The Defcon Talk (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664541)

For more information about null-prefix attacks, the video is here [defcon.org] .

uber lolz (-1, Troll)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664601)

This is hilarious.

So paypal violates their own privacy policy by not using working encryption, decides to commit the crime of theft against the one person trying to get paypal to stop violating their own policy, and quotes the reason is HE somehow caused them to not use working encryption!

I would so love to see some of the paypal directors in prison, like any of us would be if we committed the same crimes.

Re:uber lolz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29664657)

I would so love to see some of the paypal directors in prison

Why are you in prison?

Re:uber lolz (2, Informative)

spartin92 (1342937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664679)

No, paypal is just fine. The problem is that Microsoft has not updated its encryption API for Internet Explorer to stop a publicly known exploit for SSL.

Boy I sure am glad.. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664653)

..that I closed my PayPal account. :-)

Re:Boy I sure am glad.. (1)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664775)

I'm so glad...that any funds in my PayPal account that is basically mandatory use for sites like eBay arrive there via disposable Debit/Credit cards from Visa, etc. I never put in more than the cost of the item, the account is not tied to any of my personal accounts, and if I happen to sell something, as soon as the money appears I remove it from the account.

Shooting whom? (4, Funny)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29664689)

Kirk: How is the messenger, Bones?

McCoy: He's dead, Jim.

Kirk: Well, I suppose our mission here is accomplished.

McCoy: Yes, I suppose you're right.

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