Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Adrian Bridgwater, Roger Strukhoff, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Lori MacVittie

Related Topics: Security, Java, Linux, Open Source, Virtualization, SDN Journal

Security: Blog Feed Post

Heartbleed and Perfect Forward Secrecy

Last week was a crazy week for information security

Last week was a crazy week for information security. That's probably also the understatement of the year. With the public exposure of Heartbleed, everyone was talking about what to do and how to do it to help customers and the Internet, in general, deal with the ramifications of such a pervasive vulnerability.

If you still aren't sure, we have some options available, check them out here:

The most significant impact on organizations was related to what amounts to the invalidation of the private keys used to ensure secure communications. Researchers found that not only did exploitation of the vulnerability result in the sharing of passwords or sensitive data, but the keys to the organization's kingdom.

That meant, of course, that anyone who'd managed to get them could decrypt any communication they'd snatched over the past couple of years while the vulnerable versions of OpenSSL were in use.

Organizations must not not only patch hundreds (or thousands) of servers, but they must also go through the process of obtaining new keys. That's not going to be simple - or cheap.

That's all because of the way PKI (Public key infrastructure) works. Your private key. And like the One Ring, Gandalf's advice to Frodo applies to organizations: keep it secret; keep it safe.

What Heartbleed did was to make that impossible. There's really no way to know for sure how many private keys were exposed, because the nature of the vulnerability was such that exploitation left no trail, no evidence, no nothing. No one knows just what was exposed, only what might have been exposed. And that is going to drive people to assume that keys were compromised because playing with a potentially compromised key is ... as insane as Gollum after years of playing with a compromised Ring.

There's no debating this is the right course of action and this post is not about that anyway, not really. Post-mortem blogs and discussions are generally around how to prevent similar consequences in the future, and this is definitely that kind of post.

Now, it turns out that in the last year or so (and conspiracy theorists will love this) support for PFS (Perfect Forward Secrecy) has been introduced by a whole lot of folks. Both Microsoft and Twitter introduced support for the protocol late last year, and many others have followed suit. PFS was driven by a desire for providers to protect consumer privacy from government snooping, but it turns out that PFS would have done that as well in the case of Heartbleed being exploited.

Even though PFS relies on a single private key, just as current encryption mechanisms, what PFS (and even FS) do with that key means that even if the key is compromised, it's not going to open up the world to the attacker.

PFS uses the private key to generate what are called ephemeral keys; that is, they're keys based on the original but unique to either the conversation or a few, selected messages within a conversation, depending on the frequency with which ephemeral keys are generated.That means you can't use the private key to decrypt communication that's been secured using an ephemeral key. They're only related, not the same, and cryptography is pretty unforgiving when it comes to even a single bit difference in the data.

wikipedia-logoIn cryptography, forward secrecy (also known as perfect forward secrecy or PFS[1]) is a property of key-agreement protocols ensuring that a session key derived from a set of long-term keys will not be compromised if one of the long-term keys is compromised in the future. The key used to protect transmission of data must not be used to derive any additional keys, and if the key used to protect transmission of data was derived from some other keying material, that material must not be used to derive any more keys. Thus, compromise of a single key will permit access only to data protected by a single key.

-- Wikipedia, Forward secrecy

This is the scenario for which PFS was meant to shine: the primary key is compromised, yet if enabled, no conversations (or transactions or anything else) can be decrypted with that key. Similarly, if the key currently being used to encrypt communications is compromised, it can only impact the current communication - no one else.

PFS has only recently begun being supported, more recently than Heartbleed has been in existence. But now that we know it does exist, and the very real threat of vulnerabilities that compromise consumer privacy and organizational confidentiality, we should take a look at PFS and how it might benefit us to put it in place - before we find out about the next bleeding organ.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@CloudExpo Stories
The Internet of Things Maturity Model (IoTMM) is a qualitative method to gauge the growth and increasing impact of IoT capabilities in an IT environment from both a business and technology perspective. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will first scan the IoT landscape and investigate the major challenges and barriers. The key areas of consideration are identified to get started with IoT journey. He will then pinpoint the need of a tool for effective IoT adoption and implementation, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY., and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides private all-in-one social intranets allowing workers to securely collaborate from anywhere in the world and from any device. Social, mobile, and eas...
There is no doubt that Big Data is here and getting bigger every day. Building a Big Data infrastructure today is no easy task. There are an enormous number of choices for database engines and technologies. To make things even more challenging, requirements are getting more sophisticated, and the standard paradigm of supporting historical analytics queries is often just one facet of what is needed. As Big Data growth continues, organizations are demanding real-time access to data, allowing immed...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch ...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on T...
DevOps Summit, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long developmen...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
There are 182 billion emails sent every day, generating a lot of data about how recipients and ISPs respond. Many marketers take a more-is-better approach to stats, preferring to have the ability to slice and dice their email lists based numerous arbitrary stats. However, fundamentally what really matters is whether or not sending an email to a particular recipient will generate value. Data Scientists can design high-level insights such as engagement prediction models and content clusters that a...
The WebRTC Summit 2015 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Ras...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Secure Infrastructure & Services will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Secure Infrastructure & Services (SIAS) is a managed services provider of cloud computing solutions for the IBM Power Systems market. The company...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises a...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Database apps on mobile devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, a Developer Advocate for IBM Cloudant, will discuss how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again), whenever an Internet connection is available. He will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with mobile devices in order to build offline-enabled mobile apps that can provide a better,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Site24x7, the cloud infrastructure monitoring service, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Site24x7 is a cloud infrastructure monitoring service that helps monitor the uptime and performance of websites, online applications, servers, mobile websites and custom APIs. The monitoring is done from 50+ locations across the world and from various wireless carr...
What exactly is a cognitive application? In her session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ashley Hathaway, Product Manager at IBM Watson, will look at the services being offered by the IBM Watson Developer Cloud and what that means for developers and Big Data. She'll explore how IBM Watson and its partnerships will continue to grow and help define what it means to be a cognitive service, as well as take a look at the offerings on Bluemix. She will also check out how Watson and the Alchemy API team up to off...
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization's assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In...
Between the compelling mockups and specs produced by your analysts and designers, and the resulting application built by your developers, there is a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral out of control, and applications fall short of requirements. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a new approach where business and development users collaborate – each using tools appropriate to their goals and expertise – to build mo...