New OpenSSL Releases Clear Logjam, Target Minor Flaws

June 15, 2015 @ 8:34 AM
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2 min read

It’s been more than a year since Heartbleed, but companies remain nervous about widely used encryption software OpenSSL. This is understandable since the preexisting vulnerability put millions of websites and email servers at risk. But a thorough audit of this open-source SSL/TLS offering is now underway. As reported by Threatpost, the project has just released four new patches — 1.0.2b, 1.0.1n, 1.0.0s and 0.9.8zg — to deal with a number of moderate and low-severity issues. Here’s a quick recap.

Cleared Out

The biggest news from these updates? Logjam is finally cleared. Officially tracked as CVE-2015-4000, Logjam stemmed from a problem with Diffie–Hellman key exchanges. With millions of HTTPS, SSH and VPN servers using identical prime numbers for their key exchange, it became possible for attackers to use the same number field sieve over and over again to break individual connections. More worrisome? A flaw in the TLS protocol allowed man-in-the-middle attackers to downgrade connection security by exploiting the Diffie–Hellman exchange to use easily cracked 512-bit cryptography, which was coded into SSL by law in 1990 and still remains in many older deployments. As noted by CIO, releases 1.0.2b and 1.0.1n toss out 512-bit altogether and will only support handshakes of 768 bits or better. In a future patch, this limit will be raised to 1024 bits.

Other Issues With OpenSSL

New OpenSSL patches also addressed several other low-severity issues such as potential memory corruption. In versions 1.0.1, 1.0.0 and 0.9.8, it was possible for a DTLS peer to receive application data between the ChangeCipherSpec and Finished messages. When buffered, this data could generate an “invalid free,” resulting in segmentation faults or memory corruption. According to Softpedia, there’s also a fix for denial-of-service (DoS) conditions that caused out-of-bounds reads in the X509_cmp_time function, which is supposed to check the length of the ANS1_TIME string but may read a few bytes out-of-bounds. Combined with X509’s ability to accept arbitrarily assigned fractional seconds in its time string, it’s possible for attackers to create fake, malformed certificates that crash applications designed to verify these certificates.

Alone, none of these vulnerabilities is particularly damning, but they’re further proof that open-source legacy code often comes with a host of hidden problems. It appears, however, that the OpenSSL project is making good on its promise to evaluate existing code line-by-line and address these vulnerabilities before another Heartbleed-type event occurs. Best bet? Update OpenSSL ASAP and keep an eye on all future updates.

Douglas Bonderud
Freelance Writer

A freelance writer for three years, Doug Bonderud is a Western Canadian with expertise in the fields of technology and innovation. In addition to working for...
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