An article review.
Microsoft admits that Internet Explorer is vulnerable to HTTPS hack
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that any Windows computer running any version of Internet Explorer is vulnerable to a FREAK attack. Now the FREAK vulnerability has been around for years; however, it was believed to only affect certain browsers and devices, like iPhones, Android phones, Blackberry smartphones, and Apple computers.
So what is FREAK exactly? It stands for Factoring attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys. It’s where an end-user connects to a vulnerable HTTPS-protected server using a vulnerable device, and then malicious packets are injected into the data stream that allows “a weak 512-bit encryption key while negotiating encrypted Web sessions.” From there, an attacker can “collect some of the resulting exchange and use cloud-based computing from Amazon or other services to factor the website’s underlying private key.”
All in all, the process is time and resource intensive. Using a cloud based computing service, like Amazon, it would take nearly seven hours and $100 to accomplish. It may sound a little farfetched, but hackers do have some incentive. Once exploited, a hacker “can masquerade as the official HTTPS-protected website, a coup that allows them to read or even modify data as it passes between the site and the end-user.”
Thankfully, all affected vendors have now released patches for the vulnerability. Likewise, if you’re hosting a website using SSL/TLS, you can mitigate your risk by disabling all export ciphers. Here at infotex, we have patched our servers to mitigate the risk. We advise all of our clients to do the same!
The above is what we call an “Article Review.” It is part of our attempt to help our readers find excellent reading materials to back up important technology risk management concepts. We try not to include articles that are merely news or additional news about mainstream issues. Instead, we try to highlight articles that our “typical clients” should be sure to read, or that are about concepts “outside the mainstream media.” infotex does not intend to endorse views represented by the writers of the articles we review, nor do we try to keep our Clients aware of EVERYTHING. For example, if a particular story concept is being reported upon in many different media sources, infotex usually chooses to ignore the story concept altogether, unless we can find a “unique take” on the story concept.