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A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering

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Listen, if you're using RC4 as your primary ciphersuite in SSL/TLS, now would be a great time to stop. Ok, thanks, are we all on the same page?


I guess we need to talk about this a bit more. You see, these slides have been making the rounds since this morning. Unfortunately, they contain a long presentation aimed at cryptographers, and nobody much seems to understand the real result that's buried around slide 306 (!). I'd like to help.

Here's the short summary:
According to AlFardan, Bernstein, Paterson, Poettering and Schuldt (a team from Royal Holloway, Eindhoven and UIC) the RC4 ciphersuite used in SSL/TLS is broken. If you choose to use it -- as do a ridiculous number of major sites, including Google -- then it may be possible for a dedicated attacker to recover your authentication cookies. The current attack is just on the edge of feasibility, and could probably be improved for specific applications.

This is bad and needs to change soon.

In the rest of this post I'll cover the details in the usual 'fun' question-and-answer format I save for these kinds of attacks.



Full article:




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