[Cryptography] The default password of '1234'
iang at iang.org
Tue Sep 29 09:44:40 EDT 2015
On 21/09/2015 17:41 pm, Paul Madore wrote:
> ianG wrote:
>> I've been calling that click-thru syndrome since forever. > <snip> > Which is why I started promoting HTTPS Everywhere in 2005.
> Do you mean even on pages that require no authentication, such as a
> strictly HTML page? If so, is that because the server operator then has
> to have a certificate? But at the same time, those certificates can be
> falsified, so it kind of defeats the purpose to put it "everywhere."
Yes, on all HTML pages, and yes, the bottom line is that many pages will
be using certificates that are self-signed and are thus vulnerable to MITM.
> If all one is doing is display text and images, and the user is able to
> disable any scripts and ads (they are), is HTTPS everywhere really a
> reasonable thing to expect?
Expect? Well, in crypto we do what we can for free.. It's beyond clear
that we can do encryption for free. (See Ryan'd thread on Cycles for an
example, or see the TCPInc project, or SSH or Skype or modern chat
programs, etc.) So the principle is that we should always encrypt.
What we can't do "for free" is authentication. For that we need
application and/or user help.
> Curious to hear your expanded perspective.
(old timers on the list can stop reading now, you've seen this
discussion a thousand times...)
The perspective is complicated and historical. HTTPS was designed to be
a complete solution - assuming that you only used HTTPS. But the day it
was tried way back in 1994, the "high performance" sites of the times
discovered that it actually cost a lot in performance. HTTPS wasn't free.
So they bifurcated the web site. They put only the secure stuff on
HTTPS and went back to the non-secure stuff being on HTTP .
To solve this problem the user was "taught" to see the difference and
secure herself. Except, the teaching didn't stick. Now, this was
particularly exacerbated because the HTTP site started first, and only
after the user was "qualified" was she eased across to HTTPS (to enter
credit card, etc).
Which means that the second HTTPS phase was now vulnerable to a
downgrade attack to HTTP, which succeeded if the user didn't follow her
How often does the user not follow her "training" ? Well, studies seem
to put the error rate at around half .
What does that mean? Well - it means that in the presence of on attack,
there is a 50% chance the user won't notice, and enter her secret info
into a scammer's site.
50% failure means in cryptographic terms 1 bit security, so HTTPS as
delivered in browsers, provides about 1 bit of security, if one follows
the above logic.
Hence phishing is an attractive attack, which first started in 2003-ish
against HTTPS .
The only way out of this is to go HTTPS Everywhere - and then force the
browser to correctly deal with unauthenticated versus authenticated
sites. This puts the website back to being one site not two, and thus
authenticated from the start, and therefore the browser itself can see
the downgrade attack.
(There's a bit more reasoning based on browser politics which we can
leave for another day.)
 And, the user was taught that she didn't need encryption for the
other stuff. And, it was declared to be best practices. And, and and.
What was secure and what was non-secure is an interesting other
discussion we can ignore for now, the point is that there were now two
channels where the security model assumed one.
 I'm approximating here, so I'll go with half, you can plug in your
 to be fair, phishing is a lot harder than the above 1 bit claim
above. I think we'd be safe saying that HTTPS in secure browsing
delivers no more than about 10 bits of strength. But also in
cryptographic thinking, we're typically doomists and end-of-world-ists,
so 1 bits is actually about fair for a lower bound for security planning.
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