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Submission + - China performing SSL MITM attacks on iCloud

IamTheRealMike writes: Anti-censorship blog GreatFire has published a story claiming that SSL connections from inside China to Apple iCloud are being subject to a man in the middle attack, using a self signed certificate. Apple has published a knowledge base article stating that the attacks are indeed occurring, with example screenshots of the SSL cert error screens used by popular Mac browsers. Unfortunately, in China at least one natively produced browser called Qihoo markets itself as "secure", but does not show any certificate errors when presented with the self signed cert. Is this the next step towards China doing systematic SSL MITM attacks, thus forcing their population onto Chinese browsers that allow the surveillance and censorship to occur?

Submission + - Fake PGP keys for crypto developers found

IamTheRealMike writes: In recent months fake PGP keys have been found for at least two developers on well known crypto projects: Erinn Clark, a Tor developer and Gavin Andresen, the maintainer of Bitcoin. In both cases these PGP keys are used to sign the downloads for popular pieces of crypto software. PGP keys are supposed to be verified through the web of trust, but in practice it's very hard to find a trust path between two strangers on the internet: one reply to Erinn's mail stated that despite there being 30 signatures her key, he couldn't find any trust paths to her. It's also very unclear whether anyone would notice a key substitution attack like this. This leaves three questions: who is doing this, why, and what can be done about it? An obvious candidate would be intelligence agencies, who may be trying to serve certain people with backdoored binaries via their QUANTUMTHEORY man-in-the-middle system. As to what can be done about it, switching from PGP to X.509 code signing would be an obvious candidate. Both Mac and Windows support it, obtaining a forged certificate is much harder than simply uploading a fake PGP key, and whilst X.509 certs can be issued in secret until Google's Certificate Transparency system is fully deployed, finding one would be strong evidence that an issuing CA had been compromised: something that seems plausible but for which we currently lack any evidence. Additionally, bad certificates can be revoked when found whereas beyond making blog posts, not much can be done about the fake PGP keys.

Submission + - No back door in TrueCrypt

IamTheRealMike writes: Previously on Slashdot, we learned that the popular TrueCrypt disk encryption tool had mysterious origins and security researchers were raising money to audit it, in particular, to verify that the Windows binaries matched the source. But a part of the job just became a lot easier, because Xavier de Carné de Carnavalet, a masters student at Concordia University in Canada has successfully reproduced the binaries produced by the TrueCrypt team from their public sources. He had to install exactly the same compiler toolchain used by the original developers, to the extent of matching the right set of security updates issued by Microsoft. Once he did that, compiling the binary and examining the handful of differences in a binary diffing tool revealed that the executables matched precisely beyond a handful of build timestamps. If there's a backdoor in TrueCrypt, it must therefore be in the source code itself — where hiding it would be a significantly harder proposition. It thus seems likely that TrueCrypt is sound.

Submission + - Are the NIST standard elliptic curves back-doored? 2

IamTheRealMike writes: In the wake of Bruce Schneier's statements that he no longer trusts the constants selected for elliptic curve cryptography, people have started trying to reproduce the process that led to those constants being selected ... and found it cannot be done. As background, the most basic standard elliptic curves used for digital signatures and other cryptography are called the SEC random curves (SEC is "Standards for Efficient Cryptography"), a good example being secp256r1. The random numbers in these curve parameters were supposed to be selected via a "verifiably random" process (output of SHA1 on some seed), which is a reasonable way to obtain a nothing up my sleeve number if the input to the hash function is trustworthy, like a small counter or the digits of PI. Unfortunately it turns out the actual inputs used were opaque 256 bit numbers, chosen ad-hoc with no justifications provided. Worse, the curve parameters for SEC were generated by head of elliptic curve research at the NSA — opening the possibility that they were found via a brute force search for a publicly unknown class of weak curves. Although no attack against the selected values are currently known, it's common practice to never use unexplainable magic numbers in cryptography standards, especially when those numbers are being chosen by intelligence agencies. Now that the world received strong confirmation that the much more obscure and less widely used standard Dual_EC_DRBG was in fact an NSA undercover operation, NIST re-opened the confirmed-bad standards for public comment. Unless NIST/the NSA can explain why the random curve seed values are trustworthy, it might be time to re-evaluate all NIST based elliptic curve crypto in general.

Submission + - BitCoin reaches dollar parity (bitcoinwatch.com)

IamTheRealMike writes: The BitCoin peer to peer currency briefly reached exchange parity with the US dollar today after a spike in demand for the coins pushed prices slightly above 1 USD:1 BTC. BitCoin was launched in early 2009, so in only two years this open source currency has gone from having no value at all to one with not only an open market of competing exchanges, but the ability to buy real goods and services like web hosting, gadgets, organic beauty products and even alpaca socks.
Politics

Submission + - New mega-leak reveals Middle East peace process (guardian.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: There's been yet another mega-leak, this time of 1,600 papers describing the Israeli/Palestinian peace process negotiations. It's independent of Wikileaks and came to light via al-Jazeera, showing perhaps that the mega-leak meme is here to stay whatever happens to Assange. The papers show a weak Palestinian side offering ever greater concessions to Israel, which flatly rejected this as being insufficient: 'We do not like this suggestion because it does not meet our demands,' Israel's then foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, told the Palestinians, 'and probably it was not easy for you to think about it, but I really appreciate it'.
United States

Submission + - Graduate students being warned away from leak (arabist.net)

IamTheRealMike writes: The US State Dept has started to warn potential recruits from universities not to read leaked cables, lest it jeopardise their chances of getting a job. They're also showing warnings to troops who access news websites and the Library of Congress and Department of Education have blocked WikiLeaks on their own networks. Quite what happens when these employees go home is an open question.

Submission + - Julian Assange rape arrest dropped (bbc.co.uk)

IamTheRealMike writes: The BBC reports that "Swedish authorities have cancelled an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on accusations of rape and molestation. The Swedish Prosecution Authority website said the chief prosecutor had come to the decision that Mr Assange was not suspected of rape." — that was fast!
Iphone

Submission + - Apple purging 'widget' iPhone, iPad apps (macworld.com)

An anonymous reader writes: According to an article in MacWorld, Apple have started pulling apps from the App Store that allow the user to place widgets on top of their content. Quoth Steve Jobs, "We are not allowing apps that create their own desktops. Sorry". There hasn't previously been any restriction on apps that look like desktops, but that hasn't stopped Apple simply making up a new rule and then applying it retro-actively. Would you try and build a business on top of the iPhone/iPad platform given the risk of revocation?

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