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There is Always a Back Door

12 August 2019 | Comments Off on There is Always a Back Door

A long time ago, I worked in a secure facility. I won’t disclose the facility; I’m certain it no longer exists, and the people who designed the system I’m about to describe are probably long retired. Soon after being transferred into this organization, someone noted I needed to be trained on how to change the cipher door locks. We gathered up a ladder, placed the ladder just outside the door to the secure facility, popped open one of the tiles on the drop ceiling, and opened a small metal box with a standard, low security key. Inside this box was a jumper board that set the combination for the secure door.
First lesson of security: there is (almost) always a back door.

I was reminded of this while reading a paper recently published about a backdoor attack on certificate authorities. There are, according to the paper, around 130 commercial Certificate Authorities (CAs). Each of these CAs issue widely trusted certificates used for everything from TLS to secure web browsing sessions to RPKI certificates used to validate route origination information. When you encounter these certificates, you assume at least two things: the private key in the public/private key pair has not been compromised, and the person who claims to own the key is really the person you are talking to. The first of these two can come under attack through data breaches. The second is the topic of the paper in question.

How do CAs validate the person asking for a certificate actually is who they claim to be? Do they work for the organization they are obtaining a certificate for? Are they the “right person” within that organization to ask for a certificate? Shy of having a personal relationship with the person who initiates the certificate request, how can the CA validate who this person is and if they are authorized to make this request?

Research: Legal Barriers to RPKI Deployment

9 January 2019 | Comments Off on Research: Legal Barriers to RPKI Deployment

Much like most other problems in technology, securing the reachability (routing) information in the internet core as much or more of a people problem than it is a technology problem. While BGP security can never be perfect (in an imperfect world, the quest for perfection is often the cause of a good solution’s failure), there…

BGP Security: A Gentle Reminder that Networking is Business

24 September 2018 |

At NANOG on the Road (NotR) in September of 2018, I participated in a panel on BGP security—specifically the deployment of Route Origin Authentication (ROA), with some hints and overtones of path validation by carrying signatures in BGP updates (BGPsec). This is an area I have been working in for… 20 years? … at this…

Research: Are We There Yet? RPKI Deployment Considered

13 August 2018 | Comments Off on Research: Are We There Yet? RPKI Deployment Considered

The Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI) system is designed to prevent hijacking of routes at their origin AS. If you don’t know how this system works (and it is likely you don’t, because there are only a few deployments in the world), you can review the way the system works by reading through this post…

History of Networking: BGP Security

15 May 2018 | Comments Off on History of Networking: BGP Security

RIPE NCC: The Future of BGP Security

8 May 2018 | Comments Off on RIPE NCC: The Future of BGP Security

I was recently invited to a webinar for the RIPE NCC about the future of BGP security. The entire series is well worth watching; I was in the final session, which was a panel discussion on where we are now, and where we might go to make BGP security better.

Network Collective: Securing BGP

27 February 2018 | Comments Off on Network Collective: Securing BGP

Yet another protocol episode over at the Network Collective. This time, Nick, Jordan, Eyvonne and I talk about BGP security.

BGPsec and Reality

23 October 2017 |

From time to time, someone publishes a new blog post lauding the wonderfulness of BGPsec, such as this one over at the Internet Society. In return, I sometimes feel like I am a broken record discussing the problems with the basic idea of BGPsec—while it can solve some problems, it creates a lot of new…

On the ‘net: BGP Security, LACNOG 26

29 November 2016 | Comments Off on On the ‘net: BGP Security, LACNOG 26

BGP security: where we are now, where we are going, as presented at LACNOG 26 in November of 2016.

Securing BGP: A Case Study

13 May 2016 | Comments Off on Securing BGP: A Case Study

What would it take to secure BGP? Let’s begin where any engineering problem should begin: what problem are we trying to solve? This series of posts walks through a wide range of technical and business problems to create a solid set of requirements against which to measure proposed solutions for securing BGP in the global…

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