Bizarro is a new banking trojan that is stealing financial information and crypto wallets.
…the program can be delivered in a couple of ways—either via malicious links contained within spam emails, or through a trojanized app. Using these sneaky methods, trojan operators will implant the malware onto a target device, where it will install a sophisticated backdoor that “contains more than 100 commands and allows the attackers to steal online banking account credentials,” the researchers write.
The backdoor has numerous commands built in to allow manipulation of a targeted individual, including keystroke loggers that allow for harvesting of personal login information. In some instances, the malware can allow criminals to commandeer a victim’s crypto wallet, too.
Posted on May 20, 2021 at 9:13 AM •
This is a newly unclassified NSA history of its reaction to academic cryptography in the 1970s: “NSA Comes Out of the Closet: The Debate over Public Cryptography in the Inman Era,” Cryptographic Quarterly, Spring 1996, author still classified.
Posted on May 10, 2021 at 6:21 AM •
I have been seeing this paper by cryptographer Peter Schnorr making the rounds: “Fast Factoring Integers by SVP Algorithms.” It describes a new factoring method, and its abstract ends with the provocative sentence: “This destroys the RSA cryptosystem.”
It does not. At best, it’s an improvement in factoring—and I’m not sure it’s even that. The paper is a preprint: it hasn’t been peer reviewed. Be careful taking its claims at face value.
Some discussion here.
I’ll append more analysis links to this post when I find them.
EDITED TO ADD (3/12): The latest version of the paper does not have the words “This destroys the RSA cryptosystem” in the abstract. Some more discussion.
Posted on March 5, 2021 at 10:48 AM •
The US Cyber Command has released a series of ten Valentine’s Day “Cryptography Challenge Puzzles.”
Slashdot thread. Reddit thread. (And here’s the archived link, in case Cyber Command takes the page down.)
Posted on February 15, 2021 at 2:50 PM •
This is a clever side-channel attack:
The cloning works by using a hot air gun and a scalpel to remove the plastic key casing and expose the NXP A700X chip, which acts as a secure element that stores the cryptographic secrets. Next, an attacker connects the chip to hardware and software that take measurements as the key is being used to authenticate on an existing account. Once the measurement-taking is finished, the attacker seals the chip in a new casing and returns it to the victim.
Extracting and later resealing the chip takes about four hours. It takes another six hours to take measurements for each account the attacker wants to hack. In other words, the process would take 10 hours to clone the key for a single account, 16 hours to clone a key for two accounts, and 22 hours for three accounts.
By observing the local electromagnetic radiations as the chip generates the digital signatures, the researchers exploit a side channel vulnerability in the NXP chip. The exploit allows an attacker to obtain the long-term elliptic curve digital signal algorithm private key designated for a given account. With the crypto key in hand, the attacker can then create her own key, which will work for each account she targeted.
The attack isn’t free, but it’s not expensive either:
A hacker would first have to steal a target’s account password and also gain covert possession of the physical key for as many as 10 hours. The cloning also requires up to $12,000 worth of equipment and custom software, plus an advanced background in electrical engineering and cryptography. That means the key cloning—were it ever to happen in the wild—would likely be done only by a nation-state pursuing its highest-value targets.
That last line about “nation-state pursuing its highest-value targets” is just not true. There are many other situations where this attack is feasible.
Note that the attack isn’t against the Google system specifically. It exploits a side-channel attack in the NXP chip. Which means that other systems are probably vulnerable:
While the researchers performed their attack on the Google Titan, they believe that other hardware that uses the A700X, or chips based on the A700X, may also be vulnerable. If true, that would include Yubico’s YubiKey NEO and several 2FA keys made by Feitian.
Posted on January 12, 2021 at 6:16 AM •
Researchers have been able to find all sorts of personal information within GPT-2. This information was part of the training data, and can be extracted with the right sorts of queries.
Paper: “Extracting Training Data from Large Language Models.”
Abstract: It has become common to publish large (billion parameter) language models that have been trained on private datasets. This paper demonstrates that in such settings, an adversary can perform a training data extraction attack to recover individual training examples by querying the language model.
We demonstrate our attack on GPT-2, a language model trained on scrapes of the public Internet, and are able to extract hundreds of verbatim text sequences from the model’s training data. These extracted examples include (public) personally identifiable information (names, phone numbers, and email addresses), IRC conversations, code, and 128-bit UUIDs. Our attack is possible even though each of the above sequences are included in just one document in the training data.
We comprehensively evaluate our extraction attack to understand the factors that contribute to its success. For example, we find that larger models are more vulnerable than smaller models. We conclude by drawing lessons and discussing possible safeguards for training large language models.
From a blog post:
We generated a total of 600,000 samples by querying GPT-2 with three different sampling strategies. Each sample contains 256 tokens, or roughly 200 words on average. Among these samples, we selected 1,800 samples with abnormally high likelihood for manual inspection. Out of the 1,800 samples, we found 604 that contain text which is reproduced verbatim from the training set.
The rest of the blog post discusses the types of data they found.
Posted on January 7, 2021 at 6:14 AM •
In what is surely an unthinking cut-and-paste issue, page 921 of the Brexit deal mandates the use of SHA-1 and 1024-bit RSA:
The open standard s/MIME as extension to de facto e-mail standard SMTP will be deployed to encrypt messages containing DNA profile information. The protocol s/MIME (V3) allows signed receipts, security labels, and secure mailing lists… The underlying certificate used by s/MIME mechanism has to be in compliance with X.509 standard…. The processing rules for s/MIME encryption operations… are as follows:
- the sequence of the operations is: first encryption and then signing,
- the encryption algorithm AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with 256 bit key length and RSA with 1,024 bit key length shall be applied for symmetric and asymmetric encryption respectively,
- the hash algorithm SHA-1 shall be applied.
- s/MIME functionality is built into the vast majority of modern e-mail software packages including Outlook, Mozilla Mail as well as Netscape Communicator 4.x and inter-operates among all major e-mail software packages.
And s/MIME? Bleah.
Posted on December 31, 2020 at 6:19 AM •
Quanta magazine recently published a breathless article on indistinguishability obfuscation—calling it the “‘crown jewel’ of cryptography”—and saying that it had finally been achieved, based on a recently published paper. I want to add some caveats to the discussion.
Basically, obfuscation makes a computer program “unintelligible” by performing its functionality. Indistinguishability obfuscation is more relaxed. It just means that two different programs that perform the same functionality can’t be distinguished from each other. A good definition is in this paper.
This is a pretty amazing theoretical result, and one to be excited about. We can now do obfuscation, and we can do it using assumptions that make real-world sense. The proofs are kind of ugly, but that’s okay—it’s a start. What it means in theory is that we have a fundamental theoretical result that we can use to derive a whole bunch of other cryptographic primitives.
But—and this is a big one—this result is not even remotely close to being practical. We’re talking multiple days to perform pretty simple calculations, using massively large blocks of computer code. And this is likely to remain true for a very long time. Unless researchers increase performance by many orders of magnitude, nothing in the real world will make use of this work anytime soon.
But but, consider fully homomorphic encryption. It, too, was initially theoretically interesting and completely impractical. And now, after decades of work, it seems to be almost just-barely maybe approaching practically useful. This could very well be on the same trajectory, and perhaps in twenty to thirty years we will be celebrating this early theoretical result as the beginning of a new theory of cryptography.
Posted on November 23, 2020 at 6:04 AM •
Seny Kamara gave an excellent keynote talk this year at the (online) CRYPTO Conference. He talked about solving real-world crypto problems for marginalized communities around the world, instead of crypto problems for governments and corporations. Well worth watching and listening to.
Posted on August 31, 2020 at 5:45 AM •
DiceKeys is a physical mechanism for creating and storing a 192-bit key. The idea is that you roll a special set of twenty-five dice, put them into a plastic jig, and then use an app to convert those dice into a key. You can then use that key for a variety of purposes, and regenerate it from the dice if you need to.
This week Stuart Schechter, a computer scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, is launching DiceKeys, a simple kit for physically generating a single super-secure key that can serve as the basis for creating all the most important passwords in your life for years or even decades to come. With little more than a plastic contraption that looks a bit like a Boggle set and an accompanying web app to scan the resulting dice roll, DiceKeys creates a highly random, mathematically unguessable key. You can then use that key to derive master passwords for password managers, as the seed to create a U2F key for two-factor authentication, or even as the secret key for cryptocurrency wallets. Perhaps most importantly, the box of dice is designed to serve as a permanent, offline key to regenerate that master password, crypto key, or U2F token if it gets lost, forgotten, or broken.
Schechter is also building a separate app that will integrate with DiceKeys to allow users to write a DiceKeys-generated key to their U2F two-factor authentication token. Currently the app works only with the open-source SoloKey U2F token, but Schechter hopes to expand it to be compatible with more commonly used U2F tokens before DiceKeys ship out. The same API that allows that integration with his U2F token app will also allow cryptocurrency wallet developers to integrate their wallets with DiceKeys, so that with a compatible wallet app, DiceKeys can generate the cryptographic key that protects your crypto coins too.
Here’s the DiceKeys website and app. Here’s a short video demo. Here’s a longer SOUPS talk.
Preorder a set here.
Note: I am an adviser on the project.
Another news article. Slashdot thread. Hacker News thread. Reddit thread.
Posted on August 24, 2020 at 6:23 AM •
Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.