Is SSL still secure?

I know that the title is somewhat provocative. Nevertheless, the current system of certificates and more precisely the way the browsers handle them presents some weaknesses.

In security newsletter N°12, Mohamed Karroumi explained the latest attacks using forged MD5 certificates for mounting a man in the middle attack. The designers of the attack were Alexander SOTIROV and Mike ZUSMAN. At that time, the countermeasure seemed simple: do not use anymore MD5 certificates.

At last Black Hat 2009, the same researchers have disclosed a new attack that bypassed this protection. The Extended Validation (EV)certificates standard has been designed to have more secure certificate attribution (no simple online application…) and also banned RSA1024 and MD5. Thus, we could believe that a site using EV certificate should be safe against the MD5 based man in the middle. They demonstrated that it was wrong. In fact most browsers accept to start a session with an EV certificate and continue with a non EV certificate. Game over. SOTIROV and ZUSMAN showed the actual attack at the conference.

The countermeasure seems not simple if a smooth deployment is expected unless it is possible to ban ALL MD5 certificates. May be some news in our next newsletter.

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