SEC Consult has released a damning update to its study on hardcoded cryptographic secrets in embedded systems which shows that the number of devices on the web using known private keys for HTTPS server certificates has gone up by 40% in the last nine months:  Cryptography expert Kevin Bocek, VP Security Strategy at Venafi commented below.

Kevin Bocek, VP Security Strategy at Venafi:

kevin bocek“New research that identifies private keys are being reused in critical network security devices is disturbing, but nothing new. And it’s even more scary since it applies to many of the vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and telecommunications systems. We share SEC Consult’s frustration. The use of encryption is meant to uniquely authenticate applications and protect privacy; leaving devices with keys and certificates that – in some cases – are used millions of times, is simply insane. It’s just like leaving the ‘key to kingdom’ on the doorstep and putting up a billboard advertising the vulnerability. Conventional security tools such as IDS, Firewalls and AV will not help when an attacker isable to look inside your encrypted traffic, or can masquerade as one of your trusted applications or devices. Bad guys can literally take whatever data they want undetected.

Worse still, this problem is only going to get bigger! The attack surface is broadening, with millions more devices being added daily. Plus, DevOps is driving developers to go faster and the skills needed for protecting keys and certificates are in short supply. That things are getting worse is no surprise – it’s a 40% increase in just one year! IoT devices developed or deployed, and in many cases in DevOps organisations, multiply the problems many times over.

This is why companies need to take back control and take immediate action to protect themselves. By identifying all of their keys and certificates used on networks, across the cloud, and out on the Internet, organisations can identify possible failures like rampant key reuse that threatens to smash the foundation of security. Once key reuse is identified, organisations can then triage: either replacing vulnerable keys and certificates with new and unique ones, quarantining those that can’t be replaced and working with vendors to resolve the issue.”

Information Security Buzz