RSA’s SecurID 800 is one of at least five commercially available security devices susceptible to a new attack that extracts cryptographic keys used to log in to sensitive corporate and government networks.
Scientists have devised an attack that takes only minutes to steal the sensitive cryptographic keys stored on a raft of hardened security devices that corporations and government organizations use to access networks, encrypt hard drives, and digitally sign e-mails.
The exploit, described in a paper to be presented at the CRYPTO 2012 conference in August, requires just 13 minutes to extract a secret key from RSA’s SecurID 800, which company marketers hold out as a secure way for employees to store credentials needed to access confidential virtual private networks, corporate domains, and other sensitive environments. The attack also works against other widely used devices, including the electronic identification cards the government of Estonia requires all citizens 15 years or older to carry, as well as tokens made by a variety of other companies.
“They’re designed specifically to deal with the case where somebody gets physical access to it or takes control of a computer that has access to it, and they’re still supposed to hang onto their secrets and be secure,” Matthew Green, a professor specializing in cryptography in the computer science department at Johns Hopkins University, told Ars. “Here, if the malware is very smart, it can actually extract the keys out of the token. That’s why it’s dangerous.” Green has blogged about the attack here.
It’s this version of the attack the scientists used to extract secret keys stored on RSA’s SecurID 800 and many other devices that use PKCS#11, a programming interface included in a wide variety of commercial cryptographic devices. Under the attack Bleichenbacher devised, it took attackers about 215,000 oracle calls on average to pierce a 1024-bit cryptographic wrapper. That required enough overhead to prevent the attack from posing a practical threat against such devices. By modifying the algorithm used in the original attack, the revised method reduced the number of calls to just 9,400, requiring only about 13 minutes of queries, Green said.
Other devices that store RSA keys that are vulnerable to the same attack include the Aladdin eTokenPro and iKey 2032 made by SafeNet, the CyberFlex manufactured by Gemalto, and Siemens’ CardOS, according to the paper.