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EFF's HTTPS Everywhere Detects and Warns About Cryptographic Vulnerabilities

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the protect-ya-neck dept.

Privacy 46

Peter Eckersley writes "EFF has released version 2 of the HTTPS Everywhere browser extension for Firefox, and a beta version for Chrome. The Firefox release has a major new feature called the Decentralized SSL Observatory. This optional setting submits anonymous copies of the HTTPS certificates that your browser sees to their Observatory database allowing them to detect attacks against the web's cryptographic infrastructure. It also allows us to send real-time warnings to users who are affected by cryptographic vulnerabilities or man-in-the-middle attacks. At the moment, the Observatory will send warnings if you connect to a device has a weak private key due to recently discovered random number generator bugs."

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does it keep track.. ? (4, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202439)

"It also allows us to send real-time warnings to users who are affected by cryptographic vulnerabilities or man-in-the-middle attacks."

so how does that work? you know who's connected where?

Re:does it keep track.. ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39202509)

Welcome to the EFF botnet.

Re:does it keep track.. ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39202633)

It sees you when you're sleeping, it knows when you're awake.

Re:does it keep track.. ? (2)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202771)

We can't answer you as we're all busy installing the addon...please hold...

Re:does it keep track.. ? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39202851)

so how does that work? you know who's connected where?

When going to an SSL website, your browser submits a copy of the SSL certificate to the EFF's server.

The EFF's server does some sanity checking on the certificate to see if it is from a weak key.

The EFF's server compares the SSL certificate your browser submits with the SSL certificates for the same hostname that the EFF has on file from other users who submitted certificates (or maybe the EFF also tries to connect to the https server themselves).

If the certificate your browser sees is different from what the EFF expects you to see, the browser plugin displays a nasty warning to the end user.

Of course, I expect that 99% of end users will still click OK, let me connect anyways despite all the security problems!

Re:does it keep track.. ? (2)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203241)

The EFF's server compares the SSL certificate your browser submits with the SSL certificates for the same hostname that the EFF has on file from other users who submitted certificates (or maybe the EFF also tries to connect to the https server themselves).

So, similar in effect to the "multiple views" or "notaries" method of validation (a là Perspectives / Convergence). How do you know this is what HTTPS Everywhere is doing? I wondered about it and wasn't able to find any information on it, including mentions in feature lists.

Re:does it keep track.. ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39205991)

Of course, I expect that 99% of end users will still click OK, let me connect anyways despite all the security problems!

Nope, I expect that 99% of end users will not have this extension installed in the first place ...

Re:does it keep track.. ? (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 2 years ago | (#39206569)

> Nope, I expect that 99% of end users will not have this extension
> installed in the first place ...

You might be wrong. It's been, surprisingly, a very popular plugin even for non-technical folks. At least from what I see. But do your part anyway and install it on people's machine's whenever you get the chance to.

Re:does it keep track.. ? (5, Informative)

Peter Eckersley (66542) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203179)

you know who's connected where?

Great question. If you have Torbutton installed, the Decentralized SSL Observatory will use Tor to submit the certs via an anonymized HTTPS POST, and warnings (if there are any) are sent back through the Tor network in response.

If you don't have Torbutton, you can still turn on the SSL Observatory, in which case the submission is direct. The server does not keep logs of which IPs certs are submitted from, though this is of course less secure than using Tor.

Before you can turn the Observatory on, we have a UI that tries to explain all of this elegantly and succinctly, in language that even not-super-technical users can understand.

The original design document is here: https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/doc/HTTPSEverywhere/SSLObservatorySubmission

Re:does it keep track.. ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203465)

If you don't have Torbutton, you can still turn on the SSL Observatory, in which case the submission is direct. The server does not keep logs of which IPs certs are submitted from, though this is of course less secure than using Tor.

Yeah, sure.

Re:does it keep track.. ? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204055)

Erm, it's disabled by default and they recommend using Tor. They don't want you to trust them to not keep logs and they make it as easy as possible to do so.

Re:does it keep track.. ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204991)

You're just a fucking idiot. Really.

Re:does it keep track.. ? (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204035)

I don't seem able to turn on the Observatory in Chrome OS.

Re:does it keep track.. ? (1)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 2 years ago | (#39206579)

Hey Peter...thank you and the rest of the folks at the EFF for such great and important work! Beer's on me if we ever run into each other! :-)

Re:does it keep track.. ? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39214469)

okays, thanks for the response. tor makes sense for this perfectly, I guess it's as good solution as one can get now, it's probably not feasible to mirror the entire repo to local.

Re:does it keep track.. ? (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 2 years ago | (#39204473)

"It also allows us to send real-time warnings to users who are affected by cryptographic vulnerabilities or man-in-the-middle attacks."

so how does that work? you know who's connected where?

When I first added it to Chrome, it kept "going off" whenever I went to my Blogspot.Com blog. It has stopped now.

I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39202609)

Don't web browsers already come with pre-known public keys/certs to detect Man-In-The-Middle attacks?? I like the HTTPS everywhere part but I don't get why this is useful or needed as of today...

Re:I'm confused (4, Informative)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202801)

No, they come with pre-trusted cert authorities. And any cert authority can issue a certificate for any domain. So, if somebody "convinces" Verisign to give them a cert for facebook.com, that's it, they are now facebook.com as far as every browser is concerned.

In fact, sites like Facebook and Google change their certs so often (probably due to load-balancing or the simple challenge of synchronizing a certificate over a global set of datacenters), it's practically a full-time job keeping track of whether this "new" cert is valid or not.

Re:I'm confused (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203847)

Updating a cert over 100 servers is not hard. Doing so over 10000 servers is no harder, but it takes longer for the script to run though the list. You did run this as a scripted batch update, right? You aren't logging into each server manually, right?

Re:I'm confused (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#39205537)

Well yeah, you could do that. Or, since literally no browser warns about changed certificates in their default configuration, you could just do whatever is easiest.

Re:I'm confused (4, Informative)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202971)

Don't web browsers already come with pre-known public keys/certs to detect Man-In-The-Middle attacks?? I like the HTTPS everywhere part but I don't get why this is useful or needed as of today...

I've read of 3 successful attempts to get fake "Bank of America" certs. One was a cert for "Bank of America\0My Phishing Site", and browers would stop at the null and accept it. One was simply an email request with forged headers to the CA, who responded with a BoA cert without double-checking the origin of the request. One was signed by one of the now-bogus CAs while most browers hadn't yet updated with awareness of that bogosity.

And those are just the ones I've read about.

CAs are simply no longer the "trusted 3rd party" needed to prevent MitM attacks. EFF is trying to fill that void, and I'm sure that will work well for a while!

Re:I'm confused (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203855)

Proof that social engineering is how security fails. It's not the techs to blame. It's the executives ... the dishonest rich.

Re:I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39204291)

> CAs are simply no longer the "trusted 3rd party" needed to prevent MitM attacks.

CAs have *never* been trusted to prevent MitM attacks. In fact, the CA system was never designed to stop MitM attack because it wasn't considered a realistic threat at the time, the Internet was too small at the time.

Re:I'm confused (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39206349)

DO you have a source that backs up that outlandish claim?!

Re:I'm confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39221943)

As a matter of fact, yes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7Wl2FW2TcA @ about 12 minutes in.

Here's a quick and dirty transcription: "[in the 90's] The internet itself was tiny, according to ISC there were less than 5 million hosts on the internet [...] when SSL was designed there were less than 10 sites you could think of in the world you'd want to be secure for some reason [...] SSL was developed at Netscape, there was a lot of intense pressure within that company, this where a series of 4AM decisions gave us JavaScript [...] the thing to remember that when SSL was developed this type of attack was entirely theoretical, the tools didn't exist yet, this type of thing wasn't actually happening with any consistency or had ever happened this is the king of thing where it was like 'well there's one thing called a MITM attack'"

The talk is well worth watching :)

Re:I'm confused (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 2 years ago | (#39240001)

And listening a bit further

"he was like ssl, yeah I haven't throught about that in a long time. and he was like amazing ..... Oh these certificate authorities whats the deal with them...oh that whole authenticity thing yeah we just threw that in at the end...he was like ssl yeah I mean we were really designing it to prevent passive attacks, the whole man in the middle thing someone told us about that and you know we just kind of threw that thing in at the end, really that whole certificate authority thing it was a bit of a hand wave

So it sounds like they did put CAs in as an attempt to defend against MITM attacks but they didn't really care too much about whether it worked or not.

Which makes far more sense than the GGPs claim that the system was not designed to stop MITM attacks at all. If you aren't trying to defend against MITM attacks at all then there really isn't any point in having CAs in the first place.

Plus the CA system has got weaker over the years, when it was first introduced you had to convince one of a couple of companies that you were either the legitimate owner of the domain or that you are not the legitimate owner of the domain but they should give you the cert anyway. Now you have to convince one of the CAs listed in http://www.mozilla.org/projects/security/certs/included/ [mozilla.org] or one of the many sub-cas they delegate to that you are either the legitimate owner of the domain or that you are not the legitimate owner of the domain but they should give you the cert anyway.

Part of latest TOR release (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202625)

I noticed this add-on pop up when I started the latest TOR release. Seems like a good idea.

One more recipient of (part of) my browser history (1)

Cow Jones (615566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202701)

So to enable this feature, you basically have to tell them when you visit a site over SSL. Good thing it's the EFF, because we're spreading our browsing history every which way as it is. Phishing detection, WOT, sometimes the browser vendors themselves, not to mention all the ads, cookies and trackers. But I guess the people who are likely to install HTTPSEverywhere know how to protect themselves against the last three (AdBlock+, Ghostery, NoScript, etc).

CJ

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202789)

Good thing it's the EFF, because we're spreading our browsing history every which way as it is.

Your ISP knows all about you, and your family, and what the cat looks at while you are away.

Just in case you didn't think the tinfoil was tight enough.

--
BMO

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (1)

Cow Jones (615566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202841)

Your ISP knows all about you, and your family, and what the cat looks at while you are away.

No they don't, because my cat and I are using SSL :)

CJ

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203567)

Your ISP knows all about you, and your family, and what the cat looks at while you are away.

No they don't, because my cat and I are using SSL :)

CJ

I think it's safe to assume your cat is looking at lolcats.

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203783)

or catsgonewild

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (3)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203863)

They know where your encrypted packets are going. That is, unless you also encrypted the destination IP address (and if that's so, then I know where your packets are going).

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (1)

Brian Feldman (350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202935)

So? They cannot legally do anything with it, and there is no way they can be legally compelled to perform espionage without a warrant.

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39202989)

So? They cannot legally do anything with it, and there is no way they can be legally compelled to perform espionage without a warrant.

You have just blown my mind. You are right, of course, it is only the people who can legally do things with the information that scare me.

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (2)

Brian Feldman (350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203159)

Seems like some perfectly reasonable paranoia, assuming everyone is out to get you all the time. The powers that be can't do much without actually charging you with a crime.

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 2 years ago | (#39207077)

So? They cannot legally do anything with it, and there is no way they can be legally compelled to perform espionage without a warrant.

Legally compelled? Hell, they will do it voluntarily and in return the powers that be will grant them retroactive immunity for their criminal actions. I've seen it happen!

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (4, Informative)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203021)

The TOR browser bundle includes this change (because the HTTPS-everywhere addon auto-updates, IIRC). For those who opt in, the EFF will know far more about their browsing history then their ISP.

Of course, if you don't trust the EFF's claims that it will be anonymized, I'm not sure why you'd trust the anonymity of TOR, but that's a different topic.

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203313)

Your ISP knows all about . . . what the cat looks at while you are away.

http://barelyferal.tumblr.com/ [tumblr.com]

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203731)

>barely feral

Oh dear gawd.

--
BMO

Re:One more recipient of (part of) my browser hist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39208427)

No, my ISP knows that I open an SSH connection to a dedicated server outside of the USA. They might suspect that all other traffic is tunneled through that link.

Good (2)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202727)

I want a browser extension to record and track my connections into a centralized database. It's for my own benefit, you see.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39203095)

I want a browser extension to record and track my connections into a centralized database. It's for my own benefit, you see.

Well, it's only the https connections, and your ISP and the TLAs already have that.

I would trust the EFF more than I would trust google, omniture, doubleclick, comscore (which slashdot uses), etc.

Re:Good (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39203669)

You don't need a browser extension for that. Your ISP can handle it.

Donate. (4, Insightful)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 2 years ago | (#39202895)

The list of people who both care about the non-commercial interests of an end user and are technically proficient to do something about it is pretty small.

What, no auto-updates? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39238331)

You'd think that somebody coming out with version 2 of a security-sensitive browser extension would deploy it in a manner that would ensure auto-updates. I searched in the Chrome Web Store and there was no sign of this. You have to install it directly from their website. That means that it won't auto-update, and I need to remember to install/maintain it on every Chrome profile I have (no auto-syncing).

I'd rather not have to guess or check whether any particular browser I'm using has the extension installed and up-to-date...

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