IETF 88 – Pervasive Surveillance

Posted by on November 26, 2013 0 comments

Internet Surveillance The big news at IETF 88 in Vancouver was the technical plenary on Hardening the Internet which discussed the issue of pervasive surveillance. Pervasive surveillance is a mass surveillance of an entire or a substantial fraction of a population. The surveillance is usually carried out by government, is not targeted and its occurrence may not be overt. It was noted that pervasive surveillance, of the kind revealed in the Snowden-sourced documents, constitutes a misguided and damaging attack on civic society in general and the Internet in particular. The session was...

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How Organizations Are Authenticated for SSL Certificates

Posted by on November 22, 2013 0 comments

Certification Authorities (CAs) are trusted third parties that authenticate customers before issuing SSL certificates to secure their servers. Exactly how do CAs authenticate these organizations? And where are the rules that determine what CAs must do during authentication? The Rules on Customer Authentication In the past, there were no common rules applicable to CAs as to minimum steps required to authenticate a customer before issuing an SSL certificate. Instead, each CA was permitted to create its own authentication processes, and was only required to describe the process in general terms...

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Improving Code Signing

Posted by on November 14, 2013 0 comments

Previously, we discussed how code signing certificates play a key role in the trust framework by proving the authenticity of software. As mentioned, code signing certificates act as a certification that the software was unmodified after publication. Although current code signing practices greatly reduce the threats of malware and adware embedded in signed objects, the sophistication of threats has risen and there is a need for improvement. When code signing was new, skilled criminal hackers were the exception and script kiddies were the norm. Now, the skill level and sophistication of...

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Certificate Chains, Key Management and the Number of CAs Counted by Web Crawlers – Oh My

Posted by on November 4, 2013 1 comment

Have you ever wondered why your web server certificate has a “chain” of other certificates associated with it? The main reason is so that browsers can tell if your certificate was issued by an organization that has been verified to meet the security, policy and operational practices that all Publicly Trusted Certificate Authorities are mandated to meet. That certificate at the top of the chain is commonly called the “root.” It’s signature on a certificate below it indicates that the organization operating the root believes that practices of the CA below it meets...

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