Skip to main content
banner image
venafi logo

Consensus at RSA Conference 2013: “PKI is Under Attack”

Consensus at RSA Conference 2013: “PKI is Under Attack”

generic_blog_banner_image
March 4, 2013 | Kevin Bocek

At last week’s RSA Conference 2013 in San Francisco, a clear consensus emerged: attacks on the trust established by cryptographic keys and certificates are on the rise and important element in today’s threat landscape. In the Microsoft keynote, Scott Charney, corporate vice president for Trustworthy Computing, declared “PKI is under attack.” Charney explained how criminals are obtaining unauthorized digital certificates or misusing cryptographic keys to enable further attacks.

Scott_Charney_Microsoft

In the weeks leading up to RSA, criminals obtained valid digital certificates to spread banking malware. And the week before RSA, keys used by Bit9 to digitally sign whitelisted applications were misused, enabling subsequent attacks on Bit9 customer. These and other trust exploits were covered in detail in an educational webcast delivered by Paul Turner, Venafi’s VP of Products and Strategy.

These attacks coincided with the release of new research by the Ponemon Institute into the impact and cost of trust exploits that take advantage of failed key and certificate management. The 2013 Annual Report: Cost of Failed Trust found that all of the more than 2,300 respondents in mostly large enterprises had experienced at least one trust exploit. In his joint session with Boeing at RSA, Ponemon discussed how weak cryptographic exploits and CA compromises were found to impact every organization in the survey.

Ponemon was most surprised about the concern and alarm respondents have about future attacks on SSH. Critical to establishing trusted connections between administrators, machines, and other machines, SSH is the first and last line of control for IaaS cloud services from Amazon, Microsoft, and others. Ponemon said “the importance of SSH to the future of cloud computing” was the reasons why enterprises appear most alarmed by attacks on SSH compared to any other attack on key and certificate management. Criminals have already recognized the enterprise dependence on SSH and in the weeks leading up to the conference were found modifying SSH libraries that captured credentials for subsequent misuse.

While highlighting the rampant rise in attacks on the trust every business and government depends, Charney encouraged the packed keynote audience to “better manage key and certificates” to prevent these attacks. The Cost of Failed Trust research indicates that many organizations first need to start by understanding how and where keys and certificates are used. Over half of respondents believed their organization did not know how many keys and certificates are in use. This means that the average 17,000 keys and certificates used by servers, appliances, and cloud services reported in the research is likely underestimated.

Building an inventory is just one of the best practices Venafi customers helped develop and part of NIST’s July 2012 guidance on Preparing for and Responding to a CA Compromise. Taking these steps can place an enterprise on the journey to regaining the control over trust that presenters at RSA described as being so fragile today. While attacks are on the rise, there is reason for hope. Ponemon noted that almost two thirds of enterprises believe that if you “get key and certificate management right” then the security risks, along with the operational and compliance challenges of using encryption, will be solved.

Subscribe to our Weekly Blog Updates!

Join thousands of other security professionals

Get top blogs delivered to your inbox every week

See Popular Tags

You might also like

CIO Study: Certificate-Related Outages Continue to Plague Organizations
White Paper

CIO Study: Certificate-Related Outages Continue to Plague Organizations

Forrester Consulting Whitepaper: Securing the Enterprise with Machine Identity Protection
Industry Research

Forrester Consulting Whitepaper: Securing the Enterprise with Machine Identity Protection

Machine Identity Protection for Dummies
eBook

Machine Identity Protection for Dummies

About the author

Kevin Bocek
Kevin Bocek

Kevin is Vice President of Security Strategy & Threat Intelligence at Venafi. He is recognized as a subject matter expert in threat detection, encryption, digital signatures, and key management, and has previously held positions at CipherCloud, PGP Corporation and Thales.

Read Posts by Author
get-started-overlay close-overlay cross icon
get-started-overlay close-overlay cross icon
Venafi Risk assessment Form Image

Sign up for Venafi Cloud


Venafi Cloud manages and protects certificates



* Please fill in this field Please enter valid email address
* Please fill in this field Password must be
At least 8 characters long
At least one digit
At last one lowercase letter
At least one uppercase letter
At least one special character
(@%+^!#$?:,(){}[]~`-_)
* Please fill in this field
* Please fill in this field
* Please fill in this field
*

End User License Agreement needs to be viewed and accepted



Already have an account? Login Here

×
get-started-overlay close-overlay cross icon

How can we help you?

Thank you!

Venafi will reach out to you within 24 hours. If you need an immediate answer please use our chat to get a live person.

In the meantime, please explore more of our solutions

Explore Solutions

learn more

Email Us a Question

learn more

Chat With Us

learn more
Chat