Firm “strongly recommends” customers stop using RNG reported to contain NSA backdoor.
by Dan Goodin – Sept 19 2013, 7:43pm EDT
Officials from RSA Security are advising customers of the company’s BSAFE toolkit and Data Protection Manager to stop using a crucial cryptography component in the products that was recently revealed to contain a backdoor engineered by the National Security Agency.
An advisory sent to select RSA customers on Thursday confirms that both products by default use something known as Dual EC_DRBG when creating cryptographic keys. The specification, which was approved in 2006 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and later by the International Organization for Standardization, contains a backdoor that was inserted by the NSA, the New York Times reported last week. RSA’s advisory came 24 hours after Ars asked the company if it intended to warn BSAFE customers about the deliberately crippled pseudo random number generator (PRNG), which is so weak that it undermines the security of most or all cryptography systems that use it.
“To ensure a high level of assurance in their application, RSA strongly recommends that customers discontinue use of Dual EC DRBG and move to a different PRNG,” the RSA advisory stated. “Technical guidance, including how to change the default PRNG in most libraries, is available in the most current product documentation” on RSA’s websites.
The BSAFE library is used to implement cryptographic functions into products, including at least some versions of the McAfee Firewall Enterprise Control Center, according to NIST certifications. The RSA Data Protection Manager is used to manage cryptographic keys. Confirmation that both use the backdoored RNG means that an untold number of third-party products may be bypassed not only by advanced intelligence agencies, but possibly by other adversaries who have the resources to carry out attacks that use specially designed hardware to quickly cycle though possible keys until the correct one is guessed.
McAfee representatives issued a statement that confirmed the McAfee Firewall Enterprise Control Center 5.3.1 supported the Dual_EC_DRBG, but only when deployed in federal government or government contractor customer environments, where this FIPS certification has recommended it. The product uses the newer SHA1 PRNG random number generator in all other settings.
The NIST certification page lists dozens of other products that also use the weak RNG. Most of those appear to be one-off products. More significant is the embrace of BSAFE as the default RNG, because the tool has the ability to spawn a large number of derivative crypto systems that are highly susceptible to being broken.
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