<![CDATA[Venafi Blog]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/ Venafi Blog EN Copyright 2015 2015-10-09T15:43:11-06:00 <![CDATA[Here’s How to Secure the Internet’s Shaky Foundation]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/heres-how-to-secure-the-internets-shaky-foundation https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/heres-how-to-secure-the-internets-shaky-foundation/#When:19:55:00Z The foundation of the internet, DNS and PKI-SSL, is now threatened by attacks using SSL/TLS keys and certificates. We need an Immune System for the Internet to identify and neutralize key and certificate misuse.

Key Takeaways

  • The foundation of the Internet is based on two pillars: DNS and PKI-SSL
  • Cybercriminals misuse PKI-SSL to create trusted identities and to hide in encrypted channels
  • We need a third pillar: the Immune System for the Internet™ to identify and neutralize misused certificates

Download free Gartner Research: Strategies for Responding to New SSL Cybersecurity Threats

Photo by Paulo Raquec. Unedited.
Photo by Paulo Raquec. Unedited. Flickr.

When we humans created the cyber realm known as the Internet, we based its foundation on two fundamental technology pillars: DNS (Doman Name System) and PKI-SSL (Public Key Infrastructure-Secure Sockets Layer). DNS was the Internet's first technology pillar: It functioned like an address book and postal-delivery service, providing routing tables that got electrons (that is, electronic information) from Point A through 10 or 12 hops to Point B.

For a little while, DNS's miraculous ability to move information from computer to computer was enough.

Then people realized they couldn't necessarily trust the information they received via the Internet because there was no way to truly identify the sender. Peter Steiner's 1993 New Yorker cartoon delightfully illustrated this problem. In it, a computer-savvy canine tells his cartoon pal: "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog."

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

The Internet is a Good Place to Hide

In 1995, Netscape's chief scientist, Taher Elgamal, spearheaded the effort to address the Internet's identity problem through the second technology pillar (SSL), and soon X.509 certificates were providing trustworthy communications to individuals and organizations everywhere. So foundational is this technology today that the New Yorker recently published a sequel to Steiner's famous cartoon—a 2015 cartoon by Kaamran Hafeez, wherein both dogs are computer savvy and the first says to the other: "Remember when, on the Internet, nobody knew who you were?"

For a little while, PKI-SSL's ability to establish trusted identities and to encrypt data was enough.

But in the last five years, many cybercriminals have successfully attacked businesses and governments that rely on the second technology pillar to provide trusted identities. And they've done it by using the pillar itself in the form of forged or stolen certificates and keys. You see: certificates and keys are powerful. They authenticate people, in this case the cybercriminals who stole or forged them, and they open the vaults to rich stores of information. They also encrypt data. So authenticated cybercriminals can use them to bring malware in, encrypted so no one can see it, and to send valuable data out, again encrypted. And  the problem is only compounded given that many of Global 5000 organizations blindly trust  the keys and certificates deployed on their networks.

The Solution has to Intelligently Adapt to Change

To fix this problem, we need a third technology pillar: We need a cyber equivalent of the human immune system. Just as the human immune system travels throughout the body using HLA (human leukocyte antigen) markers to identify what is self and what is other, the Internet needs a technology that travels throughout cyber systems and identifies certificates that are forged or stolen—and then automatically neutralizes them, just as the human immune system automatically surrounds and destroys entities that are not self.

In other words, what the Internet needs if it is to have a whole and healthy foundation is the Immune System for the Internet™. Without it, the Internet's foundation will surely crumble.  This is our mission: to provide global organizations with an intelligent, adaptive security solution that works like an immune system to secure the foundational trust that keys and certificates provide.

Check out this video on the Immune System for the Internet.

<![CDATA[Securing Online Gaming with the Immune System for the Internet]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/securing-online-gaming-with-the-immune-system-for-the-internet https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/securing-online-gaming-with-the-immune-system-for-the-internet/#When:03:24:00Z The Cyber Spotlight: Securing Online Gaming 2015 event is happening on October 6th in London, UK. It is a one day event focusing on threats and solutions pertaining specifically to online gaming. Venafi is a strategic partner participating in the event.

If you are attending, check out the session by Craig McLean, an Operations Transformation Consultant who will be speaking on behalf of Venafi in the session, Certificates Are Easy. Why Managing PKI in an Agile Way Isn’t as Hard as You Might Think at 11:50 AM.

Also, take a look at the article below that is printed in the event publication on how to protect keys and certificates to prevent their misuse in cyber attacks. For more information on how to protection yourself from attacks that misuse keys and certificates, download this Gartner report.


The Security Gap that Lets Cybercriminals Breach Enterprises 

Lessons we can learn from the human immune system.

Most organisations don’t realise the role that cryptographic keys and digital certificates play in today’s cyber attacks. Keys and certificates are the foundation of security. They establish the trust on which businesses depend – securing data, keeping communications safe and private, and establishing trust between communicating parties. However, when these keys and certificates get breached, enterprises and individuals are left vulnerable to attack and compromise.

How our reliance on keys and certificates is used against us

We have increased our reliance on keys and certificates that protect communications and authorise and authenticate webservers, software, mobile devices, apps, admins and even airplanes. Virtually everything that is IP-enabled today relies on keys and certificates, from online banking and shopping to government sites. And this reliance will only increase as we expand our use of interconnected networks and physical devices and systems – also known as the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things depends on Secure Socket Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) keys and certificates to authenticate devices and systems.

Graphic detailing the components of serving online games, image via Cyberspot

Other security controls, such as access control, next generation firewalls (NGFW), intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), data loss prevention (DLP), and more, are designed to blindly trust keys and certificates. But what happens when cybercriminals forge or steal unprotected keys and certificates?

Attacks weaponise these compromised or stolen keys and certificates, allowing cybercriminals to bypass security controls and use keys and certificates to impersonate, surveil and monitor their targets’ websites, infrastructure, clouds, mobile devices and system administrators, as well as decrypt communications thought to be private, and even impersonate websites, code or administrators. Today’s cybercriminals use keys and certificates to gain trusted status for unrestricted access to their victim’s network and remain undetected for extended periods of time – hiding in encrypted traffic, deploying malware and siphoning off confidential data to use for criminal ends.

What is the risk of suffering an attack using keys and certificates?

The 2015 ‘Cost of Failed Trust’ survey by the Ponemon Institute found that the average enterprise has over 23,000 keys and certificates, yet 54% of security professionals admit to not knowing where all of their keys and certificates are located, who owns them or how they are used.1 Enterprises need to understand the role keys and certificates play in today’s attacks and how to protect them to close this gap in their security.

Attacks on keys and certificates are not new – Stuxnet is the first known kinetic attack that leveraged misused keys and certificates and it was discovered in 2010. However, attacks on keys and certificates are becoming increasingly common, leaving victims open to devastating security breaches. From Heartbleed, ShellShock, POODLE, the Gogo and OnStar man-in-the middle attacks, Lenovo’s Superfish vulnerability, the MASK attack and FREAK, cybercriminals are exploiting the weaknesses in unprotected keys and certificates to carry out malicious acts.

What is the risk? In the Ponemon survey, 100% of the respondents had suffered attacks using keys and certificates within the past 24 months.1 In addition, according to market research company Gartner, 50% of all inbound and network attacks will use SSL/TLS by 2017.2 If you haven’t already been attacked using keys and certificates, you soon will be.

What are enterprises doing to protect themselves?

With keys and certificates a prime target, organisations need to prioritise protecting them. Most organisations use manual or home grown systems to manage keys and certificates and these do not provide sufficient visibility and security to ensure that keys and certificates remain secure.

In light of attacks such as Sony Pictures Entertainment last year, Venafi conducted a survey amongst IT security professionals to establish what they are doing to prevent breaches and establish greater trust online.3 Disturbingly, the data revealed that most IT professionals acknowledge they don’t know how to detect or remediate compromised cryptographic keys and digital certificates.

The survey results highlighted that 42% of respondents can’t, or don’t know how to, detect compromised keys and certificates, and the other 56% of respondents said they are using a combination of NGFW, anti-virus, IDS, IPS and sandboxes to find these types of attacks. However, attacks using forged or stolen keys and certificates bypass these security controls, which are designed to blindly trust keys and certificates. SSL/TLS decryption systems that can detect attacks hidden in encrypted traffic often do not have sufficient access to keys to provide meaningful protection.

Painfully, almost two-thirds (64%) of security professionals admitted that they are not able to respond quickly (within 24 hours) to attacks using keys and certificates, and most said it would take three or more days, or up to a week, to detect, diagnose and replace keys and certificates that have been breached.

Following a breach, more than three-quarters (78%) of those surveyed said they would only complete partial remediation, not replacing compromised keys and certificates, which would leave them open to further attacks. The vast majority of organisations are still vulnerable to Heartbleed, for example, more than a year since it was discovered.4 When asked what their organisational strategy is to protect the online trust provided by keys and certificates, only 43% of respondents said that they use a key management system.

The immune system for the internet

If most security controls are designed to blindly trust keys and certificates, how can we detect misuse of keys and certificates by cybercriminals? What if we had an immune system for the internet that, like the human immune system, would let us detect what is self and trusted, and what is not and therefore dangerous on our networks?

Computer keyboard image progressing to computers connecting to the world image progressing to diagram of the internet's current connections

Just like the human body’s HLA tags, keys and certificates serve as an identification system for the internet. However, unlike humans, there has been no immune system for the internet to search out which keys and certificates to trust and which to destroy. Not being able to identify what is trusted or how to recognise and remediate untrusted keys and certificates following an attack, leaves organisations wide open to breach and compromise.

Enterprises not only need to manage keys and certificates, and know where they are and who is responsible for them, but they also need to protect them and the trust they establish. This requires an immune system for the cyber realm that can provide constant surveillance, take immediate action when anomalies are detected, and fully automate remediation to replace old or bad keys and certificates with new ones. Also, as we move increasingly to the cloud and DevOps environments, organisations need a system in place that can scale up and tear down quickly, dynamically keeping everything safe and trusted.

One solution that can serve as an immune system for the internet and fill this security gap is certificate reputation that enables immediate blacklisting of untrusted certificates and flags them for future remediation. With global certificate reputation, companies can get an internal and internet-wide view in real-time of what’s good or bad, friend or foe, when it comes to certificates, allowing IT professionals to respond in a timely manner to the misuse of keys and certificates and protect their business and brand.

Enterprises need to be able to secure keys and certificates, because, if they don’t, online trust will be broken with dire ramifications especially to the economy that relies so heavily on the trust established by keys and certificates for commerce and mission-critical business activities. And with the Internet of Things, billions of connected devices are coming online that drive, fly, keep us safe, and keep us alive. The world will be much more dangerous and vulnerable unless we find a way to maintain the trust established by keys and certificates.

Cyberspot.com image of crowd at an event

  1. Ponemon Institute. 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: Trust Online is at the Breaking Point. 2015.
  2. D’Hoinne, Jeremy and Hills, Adam. Gartner, Security Leaders Must Address Threats from Rising SSL Traffic, December 9, 2013. Gartner RAS Core Research Note: G00258176.
  3. Venafi survey of nearly 850 IT security professionals during the RSA Conference USA 2015.
  4. Venafi Labs Analysis. Hearts Continue to Bleed: Heartbleed One Year Later. 2015.
<![CDATA[Why the Security Workforce Needs Qualified Women….AND Men]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/why-the-security-workforce-needs-qualified-women.and-men https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/why-the-security-workforce-needs-qualified-women.and-men/#When:17:13:00Z Over the past 30 years of being in information technology and security, it has always been obvious that there is a huge need for diversity in this field. It’s a common topic that comes up often, especially in security circles. Just a few weeks ago, there was a special Black Hat panel session dedicated solely to addressing this topic: “Beyond the Gender Gap: Empowering Women in Security.” Also, certification body (ISC)2 reports that just 10 percent of information security professionals worldwide are women.

While this is an upsetting statistic to many, and I do agree that we need more women in the workforce, I firmly believe that we need to consider an even more pressing issue that I hear time and time again when I’m meeting with CISOs all over the globe: we simply do not have enough skilled security professionals to meet the need right now. (ISC)2’s latest global workforce study, sponsored by Frost & Sullivan, finds that the shortage of security professionals will reach 1.5 million within five years. That’s a startling number, and why I believe that employing qualified, skilled IT security professionals—both women and men—should be the priority.

So, how do we build the next generation of cyber warriors, both men and women?

First, we need to encourage kids to study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) at a young age so that they will be interested in pursuing more technical degrees and certifications later on. Most high schools are offering basic computer classes, and colleges all over the globe have courses in computer science and cyber security. And even if you don’t go to college, there are great certifications and workshops you can take to obtain and learn the skills yourself. Trust me, I’ve hired a lot of security professionals over the years and the main thing I always look for is actual, real-world, hands-on experience.

We also can help lead the way by setting a good example and showing kids and teens that they can have successful and rewarding careers in IT security. In my own career, I started at the IT helpdesk and was able to work my way up the ladder into holding several leadership positions at major corporations and now Venafi. Also, security pays well! IT security professionals, on average, make $90,000 or more a year! And there’s a lot of job security in security—companies are always hiring and looking to fill jobs quickly.

As you can imagine, I have managed many security teams during the course of my career so I’m very passionate about sharing my own insights into how to grow and build successful careers and teams in IT security. In fact, I’m actually presenting on October 12 at 3pm CT at the ISSA International conference on “Diversified IT: Why the Security Workforce Needs Qualified Women...and Men.” If you’re there, definitely stop by my session!

2015 ISSA International Conference Session

While these are just a few of my thoughts, there are probably many more things that we can be doing to build up the security workforce to meet the demand. I just hope that over time, we do start to see the tables turn with a more diversified and skilled workforce. This is definitely a fight we can’t win alone!


<![CDATA[Infographic: New Ponemon Research Reveals Businesses Are Losing Customers Due to Broken Online Trust]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/infographic-new-ponemon-research-reveals-businesses-are-losing-customers-du https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/infographic-new-ponemon-research-reveals-businesses-are-losing-customers-du/#When:04:05:00Z A new report, 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: When Trust Online Breaks, Businesses Lose Customers, was released today by the Ponemon Institute and Venafi, and reveals the damaging impacts on global business from unprotected and poorly managed cryptographic keys and digital certificates. In March 2015, a related report (2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: Trust Online is at the Breaking Point) revealed the risks global business face from attacks using keys and certificates (see the infographic on this first report). Now this new report looks at how the failure to secure and manage keys and certificates is adversely impacting today’s businesses, and quantifies the direct financial impacts.

Global enterprises depend on the trust, privacy, and integrity established by keys and certificates. But when keys and certificates are unsecured, companies lose customers, suffer costly outages, fail audits, and experience breaches. The infographic below captures the extent of these impacts in today’s enterprises over the past 2 years as well as the amount of security, availability, and compliance risk over the next 2 years. The infographic then concludes with the challenges that enterprises face with securing keys and certificates and an action plan to reduce risk.

Infographic: When Trust Online Breaks, Businesses Lose Customers

<![CDATA[Businesses Are Losing Customers from the Misuse of Keys and Certificates]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/businesses-are-losing-customers-from-the-misuse-of-keys-and-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/businesses-are-losing-customers-from-the-misuse-of-keys-and-certificates/#When:04:05:00Z 2015 survey results reveal that unprotected and poorly managed keys and certificates result in a loss of customers, costly outages, failed audits, and security breaches.

Key Takeaways

  • Most businesses admit to losing customers because they failed to secure keys and certificates
  • Misuse of keys and certificates continues to increase (e.g. Superfish, GoGo, FREAK, and LogJam)
  • Several unplanned outages have hit major enterprises in 2015 (e.g., Gmail, Azure, Instagram)

Today, the Ponemon Institute and Venafi released new data on how businesses are being directly impacted by unsecured cryptographic keys and digital certificates. This data has been released in a new report, 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: When Trust Online Breaks, Businesses Lose Customers, and reveals how unprotected and poorly managed keys and certificates result in a loss of customers, costly outages, failed audits, and security breaches.

Download the report: 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: When Trust Online Breaks, Businesses Lose Customers

In March 2015, the Ponemon Institute and Venafi published research on the risks global business face from attacks using cryptographic keys and digital certificates in the 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report: Trust Online is at the Breaking Point. The 2015 research survey used as the basis for this report was completed by 2,394 IT security professionals around the globe: 646 U.S., 499 U.K., 574 German, 339 French, and 336 Australian respondents. Consensus among the global participants was that the system of trust was at the breaking point. Now, unpublished data from the survey is included in this new report that shows businesses around the globe are suffering the damaging impacts of unsecured keys and certificates.

  • When trust online breaks, businesses lose customers: Nearly two-thirds (59%) admitted to losing customers because they failed to secure the online trust established by keys and certificates.
  • Critical business systems are failing: An average of over 2 certificate-related unplanned outages have been reported per organization over the last 2 years, with an average cost of $15 million per outage.
  • Businesses are failing audits: On average, organizations failed at least one SSL/TLS audit and at least one SSH audit within the last 2 years.

Nearly 2/3 of Businesses Admit to Losing Customers

These certificate-related outages and failed audits are symptoms of larger security issues—if you can’t manage your keys and certificates, you can’t secure and protect them, leaving your business exposed. Criminals steal and compromise keys and certificates that are not properly protected, and use them to circumvent security controls—to hide in encrypted traffic, deploy malware, and steal data.

Here is a quick summary of examples of the misuse of keys and certificates in 2015.

GoGo MITM: In early 2015, it was discovered that inflight internet service provider, GoGo, was issuing fake Google certificates. GoGo indicated that this was simply used to block online video streaming to conserve bandwidth, but breaking this security protocol has undoubtedly tainted the GoGo brand.

Superfish: Lenovo damaged customer confidence when it was caught in early 2015 installing adware on its laptops that conducted man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks using forged digital certificates to break open SSL/TLS encryption.

FREAK: Or Factoring Attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys, is a vulnerability in SSL/TLS encryption that forces vulnerable clients and servers to use a weak key that enables attackers to break the encryption with brute-force decryption. Victims of this vulnerability might have the effectiveness of their security put into question.

LogJam: The LogJam vulnerability uses a flaw in the Diffie-Hellman (DHE) key exchange and is similar to FREAK in that it can be used to downgrade the TLS encryption. Attackers can use this vulnerability in a MITM attack to read or modify data passed over the TLS connection, which would violate customer privacy.

Outages: Certificate-related outages that cause critical services to go down can also cause customer loss. Here are some newsworthy certificate-related outages in 2015, showing that even well-established businesses can suffer crippling business interruptions due to poorly managed certificates:

  • Google Gmail experienced an outage due to an expired root certificate, which prevented millions of users from accessing their email accounts.
  • The Microsoft Azure storage cloud platform experienced a worldwide outage due to an expired SSL certificate.
  • Instagram users, when using the web interface, received either an error message saying the company’s certificate was invalid or, if using Chrome, were denied access to the Instagram site all together due to an expired SSL certificate.

The new Ponemon report also shows that these impacts from unprotected and poorly managed keys and certificates will continue with a security risk per organization of $53 million over the next 2 years and a combined availability and compliance risk of $7.2 million—showing that security risk greatly outweighs availability and compliance risk. Read the report to get an action plan to reduce these risks.

How are you reducing the risk of key and certificate misuse in your organization?

<![CDATA[Don’t Trust Blindly—Get 20/20 Vision on Your Certificates]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/dont-trust-blindly-get-20-20-vision-on-your-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/dont-trust-blindly-get-20-20-vision-on-your-certificates/#When:04:05:00Z Before your view becomes 20/20 from hindsight and you are too little too late, adopt an approach that gives 100% insight. Virtually all enterprises are unaware of how many certificates they have in their organization. Visibility is critical to properly manage certificates, avoid certificate-related outages, and secure your business and brand.

Key Takeaways

  • Everyone is utilizing more certificates than they know and in ways they don't know.
  • Lack of visibility leads to outages, downtime, exploited vulnerabilities, and financial Loss.
  • Venafi TrustNet and Google CT care about your brand and you should too.

Visibility for Certificate Management

Without visibility, in today’s flooded wires of packet transfers, you will not really know how many certificates are in use within your organization. In 2015 research by the Ponemon Institute, 54% of IT security professionals admitted to not knowing where all of their keys and certificates are located. But I think this is grossly underestimated. I have never met an organization utilizing certificates who accurately knew the count of their digital certificate usage before using Venafi. Usually, we wind up finding at the least 3x what they thought they had.

Download the solution brief, Eliminate Blind Spots in Your SSL Traffic.

Yet finding all of your certificates is just the beginning. To properly manage them, you’ll need visibility into all of these aspects:

  • Who owns each of your certificates?
  • What does each certificate do?
  • Who is controlling your self-signed certificates?
  • Where do all of your wildcard certificates live?
  • Are all certificates being issued by the CAs you have approved?

Visibility to Avoid Certificate-related Outages

Another critical component to certificate visibility is the ability to identify approaching certificate expirations. At some point certificates expire, and at some point you need to renew that certificate and go replace it everywhere it belongs (1 year maximum if you are following best practices). But it’s important to do this before they expire and cause outages of critical business systems. We’ve already seen several examples of certificate-related outages in large global businesses in 2015, including in Google Gmail, Microsoft Azure, and Instagram. These outages can cost you millions. In research by the Ponemon Institute, IT security professionals set the average cost of a certificate-related outage at $15 million.

Businesses Lose $15 Million per Outage

Visibility to Protect Your Business and Brand

Visibility into your keys and certificates isn’t just crucial for management—as the foundation to online trust, it’s also critical to securing your business and protecting the privacy of your customers and partners. Here are some questions you should be able to answer:

  • Who is making sure that certificates with proper strength are being created?
  • Has anyone stood up a rogue CA on your network?
  • Are all certificates being issued by the CAs you have approved?
  • Are stolen or rogue keys and certificates being used to hijack your brand?

Enterprises need to also realize that using encryption creates security blind spots. Cybercriminals are now using SSL/TLS to hide getting malware into organizations and to hide taking sensitive data out. Gartner estimates that by 2017, 50% of network attacks will use SSL/TLS. Organizations need real-time access to keys and certificates to decrypt SSL/TLS traffic and pass the content to security devices, such as Blue Coat, for further processing, analysis, and policy administration.

When the online trust established by keys and certificates is broken, businesses lose customers. Thank goodness solutions such as Google Certificate Transparency (CT) and Venafi TrustNet™ are out there to help add some visibility to our ever expanding use of digital certificates and keys.

Recently, Thawte CA had some of its employees issue unauthorized Google certificates. Fortunately, pre-certificate data gets sent to Google CT prior to actual issuance. In this case, the Google CT team was able to raise the red flag about these unauthorized certificates and alert the proper channels, allowing immediate corrections to be made. Venafi TrustNet combines information from Google CT with information from the Venafi sensory network to provide information on certificate issuance as well as throughout the entire certificate lifecycle on all certificates used on the internet.

Businesses rightly take encryption seriously. This means they care about the CAs they use, how long certificates are valid, and what hashes, algorithms, and protocols are used. We have seen companies with very strong policies on their certificates who have removed employees when a certificate that was unauthorized showed up via our discovery. How do you know whether your policies are being followed if you can’t see? It’s time to shed some light on your certificates. You can’t fix what you can’t see, and you can’t protect a door if you don’t know it exists.

<![CDATA[Take the Guesswork and Complexity Out of Your PKI Update]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/take-the-guesswork-and-complexity-out-of-your-pki-update https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/take-the-guesswork-and-complexity-out-of-your-pki-update/#When:19:18:00Z If your public key infrastructure (PKI) is like that of most companies today, it’s probably outdated. That can be a serious problem. Outdated PKI systems result in errors, missed updates, costly business interruptions, and even breaches. This is due to a lack of central visibility, consistent processes, and the refresh validation needed to streamline updates. Moreover, new security and compliance requirements and an evolving threatscape can make it costly and difficult to revamp PKIs.

Key Takeaways

  • Outdated PKI results in errors, missed updates, costly business interruptions, and even breaches
  • T stay protected, reduce certificate lifetimes, migrate to SHA-2, rely on standards, and develop remediation strategies
  • Successful PKI refreshes require visibility, enforced policies and workflows, automation, and validation

Why is it so difficult and costly to refresh an outdated PKI? There are almost 24,000 keys and certificates in today’s average enterprise and 54% of security professionals admit to being unaware of where all of their keys and certificates are located, who owns them, or how they are used. In addition, establishing new root or intermediate CAs and distributing certificates to hundreds or thousands of applications and trust stores is incredibly time consuming, expensive, and error prone. Add to the mix differing, distributed applications and administrators unfamiliar with certificates, and the challenges quickly multiply.

Check out the PKI Refresh solution brief.

PKI Update

But putting off a PKI refresh can open your business to outages and attacks. According to the Ponemon Institute, 100% of the Global 5000 surveyed have responded to attacks using keys and certificates and have had 2 or more certificate-related outages within the last 24 months. What does this mean in dollars and cents? Security professionals estimate that the total possible impact of an attack using keys and certificates is almost $600 Million and the total possible impact of a certificate-related outage is $15 Million. That’s a serious impact—even for the largest enterprises.

To stay protected from these costly and damaging incidents, you may want to consider adopting new PKI refresh standards and strategies:

  • Reduce certificate lifetimes to 3 months or less, as recommended by Google and others to reduce certificate risk exposure (but even Google recently let a certificate expire, showing that even the most security conscious organizations can struggle with key and certificate management and security)
  • Replace SHA-1 with SHA-2, due to potential attacks on SHA-1 certificates. (See NIST’s Policy on Hash Functions.)
  • Update digital certificate maintenance rules according to compliance regulations, such as the PCI DSS, and other security frameworks, such as SANS 20.
  • Develop new remediation strategies ;to apply following a CA compromise or new vulnerability (Venafi research shows that 3 out of 4 organizations still have not completely remediated the Heartbleed vulnerability).
Manage and Validate Your PKI Refresh with Confidence

How do you implement all of these standards and strategies? With today’s fast changing threatscape and increasing use of digital certificates, successful PKI refreshes require complete visibility, enforced policies and workflows, automation, and validation.

Visibility: Most don’t have complete visibility into their PKI. But for successful PKI management, you need to identify all keys, certificates, CAs, and trust stores across your enterprise networks, the cloud, and multiple CAs.

Enforcing policies and workflows: To ensure consistency while updating your PKI, you need to enforce configurable workflows capabilities for replacement, issuance, and renewal. Also, a policy-enforced, self-service portal can be used to simplify certificate requests and renewals.

Automation of PKI: Automation is critical for PKI in today’s enterprises and should cover the entire CA and certificate refresh process, including the distribution and whitelisting of new CAs in trust stores.

Validating your progress: You should be able to track your progress and completion of your PKI refresh, validating that certificates are installed and applications are running.

With all of these requirements, does a PKI refresh sound like an impossible task? Believe it or not, you can now take the guesswork and complexity out of your next PKI refresh and reduce your risk. With the right solution for your PKI refresh, you can achieve complete visibility, enforce policies and workflows, automate processes, and validate progress. But don’t put this project off—it could literally cost you millions.

What do you consider to be the most critical PKI updates needed? Please share your experiences and thoughts.

<![CDATA[Key and Certificate Security Delivered at the Speed of Business]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/key-and-certificate-security-delivered-at-the-speed-of-business https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/key-and-certificate-security-delivered-at-the-speed-of-business/#When:19:19:00Z Stop keys and certificates from slowing innovation. The speed of cloud computing, the demands of internal IT services SLAs, and the explosion of IoT devices must be supported with automated key and certificate management and security.

Key Takeaways

  • Speed of IT continues to dramatically increase with cloud computing, IoT, and IT service demands
  • Manual key and certificate management, used by most organizations, is slowing IT speed
  • To meet speed demands, corners are cut in key and certificate security or it is sacrificed completely

To improve customer experience, new IT is enabling speed to business in ways that could not have been considered a few years ago. Not too long ago, QA test environments were rebuilt every week. Today they are rebuilt on a continuous basis. Previously, if you wanted to provision a webserver, it would have taken weeks, sometimes months, to secure the hardware followed by the operating system and required software.

Watch this demo to see how to support Chef with automatic key and certificate provisioning.

I remember how it was before the cloud started being adopted; one customer I worked with mentioned that it was faster for them to retrofit a Boeing 737 than it was to stand up a new webserver. How things have changed with DevOps where a new server instance can be available within seconds today. And containerization has only further increased the speed at which application stacks can be made available. One Venafi customer tears down and instantiates its entire environment every week. Think of the mammoth task—no, near impossible task—this would have been just 5 years ago!

Speed + Security in the Cloud

Without speed to market and dynamic, on-demand service delivery, your competition is going to take your customers. But speed should not come at the sacrifice of security. Think about it, keys and certificate are one of the technologies that are foundational to the internet and the way we do business. They provide authentication and authorizations for millions of systems. Yet keys and certificates, which are at the heart of IT security, often slow down dynamic IT. Most organizations are using manual methods to issue and track keys and certificates. Then when certificates are used with cloud servers, these manual methods are slowing down processes, significantly.

In results from a survey conducted by TechValidate for Venafi, we found that over half (56%) of our customers used manual certificate tracking methods before using our products.


Customer References verified by TechValidate.

What good is it to be able to instantiate cloud workloads quickly if security slows down the process or, worse yet, is skipped completely in the interest of speed.

Organizations and cloud vendors sometimes try to cut corners in key and certificate security to avoid slowing down cloud provisioning. Dell SecureWorks did a study a couple of years back and found that 1 in 5 AWS instances had rogue SSH keys included in them. You may ask yourself, why is this important? Well, it’s basically the same as buying a new car and making multiple copies of your car keys and handing them out to strangers at your local supermarket—anyone who has the key will then have access to your car!

Most cloud vendors now offer ephemeral session keys that cannot be used again. This dramatically reduces the lifespan of the key material. To support the speed benefits of cloud computing while also ensuring security, keys  need to be generated and provisioned automatically based on defined security policies. Regardless of how you provision workloads in the cloud, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that you do not re-use keys. Also make sure you have visibility into where the keys are being used, by whom, and for how long.

Speed + Security for Internal SLA of IT Services

Speed is an important factor in internal IT services Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Other departments turn to IT to deliver services, and key and certificate issuance in support of these services can significantly impact the SLAs to which the IT department can commit.

In the recent TechValidate survey, we found that over half (57%) of the respondents were able to improve their internal IT services SLA after deploying Venafi—over one-third (34%) were able to change this from days to just hours. Automated key and certificate provisioning can have a significant impact on the services SLA that IT can deliver.


Customer References verified by TechValidate.

Speed + Security for IoT

We already have a few billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected through the Internet. And with the additional IoT devices coming to market, supporting a multitude of use cases, that number is expected to grow dramatically.  According to Gartner, by 2020 there will be 25 billion connected “things”, all which need some way of authenticating on the network and communicating securely.

Automakers are expecting cars to be a high-value target for hackers and have already begun to put security controls in place. One such control changes the SSL/TLS certificates at least 12 times per hour—think what a PKI management nightmare that may be if you are not able to automate processes and tell whether a certificate is good or bad, friend or foe. As IoT devices increase, real-time key and certificate management will be needed to keep up with security and access demands.

Security at Speed

Although I focused on cloud, internal IT services, and IoT, there are many other examples where keys and certificates need to be provisioned or replaced very quickly to satisfy the business need. But security does not have to be sacrificed to achieve speed of deployment in any environment. The full key management lifecycle process can be automated so that security policies can be applied and the environment kept safe.

If you are interested to see how Venafi automatically provisions keys and certificates with Chef please review the following demonstration video.

How does your organization ensure your key and certificate management and security keep up with the speed demands of IT?

<![CDATA[Venafi Supports Google Certificate Transparency with CA-Agnostic Log and Monitor ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/venafi-supports-google-certificate-transparency https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/venafi-supports-google-certificate-transparency/#When:13:00:00Z Venafi is proud to announce the availability of the Venafi CT log and CT monitor.

Key Takeaways

  • Google Certificate Transparency provides safer internet browsing by allowing anyone to scrutinize the certificate issuance process.
  • Venafi supports Google Certificate Transparency (CT) with the Venafi CT log and CT monitor.
  • Venafi TrustNet uses Google CT log information in conjunction with SSL/TLS information gathered from the Venafi sensor network to identify misuse of certificates on the internet.

Download the TrustNet white paper to learn how Venafi uses Google CT in Venafi TrustNet

The Google Chrome browser requires public logging of Extended Validation (EV) SSL/TLS certificates as part of Google Certificate Transparency (CT). Any EV certificate issued after January 1, 2015 that is not logged with CT will cease to show the EV indicator “green bar” in the Chrome browser.

Google CT aims to stop unauthorized certificate issuance by providing the ability for anyone to scrutinize the issuance process. This is provided by three core components: the certificate log, a monitor, and an auditor.

A Growing Need

Cybercriminals and nation states have realized the value of misusing certificates—shown in certificate issuance practices being abused more and more frequently. Earlier this year, reports of a man-in-the-middle attack orchestrated by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) provide just one example of how certificate issuance can be used for nefarious purposes.

Google CT aims to provide safer internet browsing by detecting mis-issued certificates, malicious certificates, or rogue CAs within a few hours of conception. This is achieved due to the CT requirements that dictate how and where any certificate issued should be logged with Google CT.

Venafi Support for Google CT

Venafi is proud to announce support for Google CT with the Venafi CT log and CT monitor. As the Immune System for the Internet™, Venafi provides a CT log independent of any specific Certificate Authority (CA), welcoming any CA to publish to the Venafi CT log.

CT Log: Any CA wishing to be compliant with Google CT is required to publish certificates that they issue to at least three (3) logs. These logs are publicly auditable and cryptographically assured.   

Diagram of Venafi CT Log and Monitor

CT Monitor: Venafi also participates in the Google CT initiative by providing a monitor. Monitors watch logs for suspicious certificates and verify that all logged certificates are visible.

The Value of Google CT

Gartner got it right back in 2012 when they concluded that “no certificate can be blindly trusted.” In one good example of the value of Google CT, Google found an Extended Validation (EV) pre-certificate issued without Google’s authorization by Thawte CA. However, although CT identified the fraudulent certificate when Thawte issued the pre-certificate, CT identification is limited to the detection of certificate misuse at time of issuance only.   

Beyond Google CT

Because Venafi is CA-agnostic, providing a CT monitor allows Venafi to gain early visibility into certificate issuance practices across CAs. And Venafi TrustNet™ goes beyond certificate issuance information, using Google CT log information in conjunction with SSL/TLS information gathered from the Venafi sensor network to identify misuse of certificates on the internet throughout the certificate lifecycle.

In addition to the pre-certificate found by Google that was issued last week by Thawte, I decided to run a report utilizing Venafi TrustNet and found 20 other certificates issued to the google.com domain that are currently live and issued by some suspicious CAs that are not in the Google CT log.

To protect your organization’s brand from being misrepresented, Venafi TrustNet certificate reputation helps organizations detect and remediate certificate misuse at issuance and throughout the life of a certificate by evaluating the entire internet.  

How does your organization ensure no digital certificate is being used on the internet to misrepresent your brand?

<![CDATA[Biometrics Stolen During OPM Breach—Your Fingerprints May No Longer Be Your Own ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/biometrics-stolen-during-opm-breach https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/biometrics-stolen-during-opm-breach/#When:13:00:00Z During what is believed to be the biggest breach in U.S. history, it was reported that along with all of the other sensitive data, over 5.6 million fingerprints were also exposed to the hackers.

While you may think that spies wearing life-like masks and gloves with false fingerprints on them to commit espionage could only happen in a Mission Impossible plot, you may be shocked to know that with the biometric data that was stolen in the recent Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach, this may now be possible.

Of course we hope these tricks will continue to only be acted out by Tom Cruise, but everyone should still be aware of the very serious fact that hackers obtained over 5.6 million fingerprints (originally estimated by the OPM at only 1.1 million, but has now grown) from the 21.5 million people whose personal data was stolen. Having these biometrics stolen is terrifying for two major reasons:

  1. There could be a brand new type of stolen goods being trafficked on the black market: biometrics.
  2. Those whose biometrics were stolen will have to deal with losing their identity for the rest of their lives.

It is still unclear what the hackers plan to do with the biometric data they have stolen, but already, impersonators are on the black market selling fake OPM-breached fingerprints. Knowing there is already a demand for them shows that biometric data may become the newest, “hot ticket data” hackers are after. This could now open up a Pandora’s Box for those impacted by the breach since your fingerprints, along with other biometric data, are exposed and easy for the taking. And the fact that you cannot change your fingerprints every few months, like you can a credit card number, is also scary because unlike stolen passwords and identity numbers, your fingerprints can’t be changed. Keeping your biometric data secure is a serious security concern that hasn’t been addressed much—at least not to-date.

Download Now - Close the Gaps in Identity and Access Management

Stolen Biometrics

Today, fingerprints are used for background checks, border crossings, workplace identification, and, more recently, unlocking smartphones. If your biometric data is stolen, being able to identify yourself by what was once the most trusted way, will no longer be an option for you. Even worse is that those U.S. diplomats and government agents whose sensitive biometric data was exposed by the OPM hack, if now stolen, could lead the hackers to even more horrifying information. It could have the potential to unlock devices that hold incredibly sensitive, current data like undercover investigations, international negotiations, and conversations that were kept secret for a reason.

In the early 1900’s, my grandmother’s brother (immigrant from Italy) was fingerprinted when he entered the U.S. He spent many years working in a brick yard—he literally burned off all of his fingerprints and always joked, “Now the government doesn’t know who I am!” Who would have thought that a century later, a cyber attack would leave millions of people in the dark wondering what hackers plan to do with their fingerprints and personal information.

Now is a really good time for the U.S. government and global companies around the world to consider better security measures around their biometric data. We simply can’t sit here and wait for another OPM-like breach to happen that leaves even more data for the taking.


<![CDATA[Untrusted Certificates—Survey Shows IT Security Pros Know the Risks but Do Nothing]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/survey-shows-it-security-pros-know-the-risks-but-do-nothing https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/survey-shows-it-security-pros-know-the-risks-but-do-nothing/#When:12:00:00Z Today, Venafi released a report based on survey findings and analysis, IT Security Professionals Know the Risk of Untrusted Certificates and Issuers, but Do Nothing. The survey was conducted at 2015 Black Hat USA and gathered responses from over 300 IT security professionals. As the title suggests, the report reveals that security professionals know the risks associated with untrusted certificates, including compromises of certificate authorities (CAs), but they are currently not taking steps to protect themselves and don’t have remediation mechanisms in place to effectively mitigate a future CA compromise.

Why is it important to understand and respond to threats using untrusted certificates? The report highlights how cybercriminals are increasingly misusing keys and certificates to breach organizations, elevate their privileges, and hide activity. And although they may know the risks, most organizations are unprepared to defend against these attacks.

Watch Now - Free Ponemon Webinar on Enterprise Certificate and Keys Attacks

Security Pros Know the Risks

Here are a couple survey responses that indicate that security professionals are aware of the risks associated with untrusted certificates and compromised CAs:

  • The major issuers of online trust will be compromised, with 90% of the respondents believing a leading CA will be breached within the next two years.

  • When asked what security risks would result from an untrustworthy CA issuing certificates for their browser, application, or mobile device, 58% stated they are concerned about MITM attacks and 14% had concerns about replay attacks.

Statistics on Certificate Authority Security Risks

They Lack Visibility into the Extent of their Risk Exposure

Although security professionals understand the types of threats that can result from misused certificates, they do not grasp the extent of their risk exposure.

  • Most security professionals (63%) don’t know or falsely believe that a CA secures certificates and cryptographic keys. CAs only issue and revoke certificates—they don’t monitor their use and do not provide any security for them.

  • When asked how many CAs are trusted on mobile devices, survey responders believe it to be a median of three. On Apple iOS devices the median response was two, when in fact the number of trusted CAs is over 240.

Security Pros Aren’t Taking Action

Maybe because of the lack of insight to the extent of their risk, security professionals aren’t taking action against current threats or establishing incident response plans that will protect them in the future when a leading CA is compromised.

  • Only 26% removed CNNIC from all desktops, laptops, and mobile devices after Google and Mozilla deemed CNNIC as untrustworthy to protect Chrome and Firefox users from a MITM attack. The remaining 74% are still exposed.

  • Most (61%) would be unprepared to promptly respond to a breach of a leading CA, relying on manual procedures performed by administrators or incident response firms to remediate (including manually addressing Vulnerability Management System data).

  • Worse yet, 30% either did not know what they would do or would continue using the same CA—leaving them vulnerable

Statistic on Responding to CA Compromise

What should organizations do to protect themselves? Read the report to get a 3-point recommendation plan on how to reduce the risk and impact of fraudulent issuance and misuse of certificates. The report concludes by saying we should take a lesson from nature and use the Immune System for the Internet™ to identify good vs. bad, friend vs. foe to defend against the misuse of keys and certificates.

What are your thoughts on these survey results? Is your organization prepared for the next CA compromise? How do you remediate when your certificates and keys are misused by cybercriminals?

<![CDATA[Still Using SHA-1? It’s Time to Switch!]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/still-using-sha-1-its-time-to-switch https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/still-using-sha-1-its-time-to-switch/#When:13:00:00Z Why all of the fuss?

SHA-1 was deprecated by NIST from 2011 through 2013 because of its security strength being susceptible to a collision attack. Due to ever increasing computational power, the risk of SHA-1 being broken via a collision attack in the next few years is very real. For that reason, most certificate authorities (CAs) only issue certificates using SHA-2 or above.

Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla have already started taking steps last year to aid end users in understanding the risks and have updated their policies. These policies state that sites with end-entity certificates expiring on or after 1 January 2017 that make use of SHA-1 will no longer be accepted as secure. These policies also require CAs to stop issuing new SHA-1 certificates after 1 January 2016.

What progress are we making with SHA-1 to SHA-2 migration?

It’s now well known that certificates signed with SHA-1 are not secure, but what progress are companies really making in transitioning to SHA-2? Using Venafi TrustNet certificate reputation services, I generated a report of all SHA-1 certificates that have been issued since 31 December 2013—this date is after NIST had deprecated SHA-1 usage—and filtered out any certificates that are set to expire before the 1 January 2017 deadline. The results speak for themselves as to the state of the industry!

There are over 1.5 million certificates that have been issued since 31 December 2013 with SHA-1 that are set to expire well beyond the 1 January 2017 deadline, when major browsers will stop trusting these certificates.

SHA-1 Certificate Expiration Age Beyond January 1, 2017

Although too small a percentage to show on the chart above, 330 certificates were found to be expiring in more than 100 years! I guess some security practitioners are looking out for future generations so that they don’t run into any outages related to certificate expirations, they obviously don’t believe SHA-1 will be fully exploitable by 2114—but this is at the cost of security.

What steps should you take to start your SHA-1 migration?

Certificate inventory assessment is the first step, establishing the scope and extent of your SHA-1 to SHA-2 migration. With a clear understanding of your certificate inventory and trust stores, you can determine which systems and applications may be impacted.

Revision of policies is needed to indicate that only SHA-2 certificates are generated moving forward and newly generated keys and certificates are in compliance with corporate and industry security standards.

Application and system testing is one of the very first things that needs to be performed before attempting to deploy any new certificates into the environment. You may have a legacy application that does not support SHA-2 and there is no migration plan from the vendor. If this is the case, you need to make a judgment call: migrate the application to a newer application that does support SHA-2 or live with the risk knowing full well that it’s a ticking time bomb.

Automated deployment of new certificates is recommended, especially when you consider that the average large enterprise has over 23,000 keys and certificates to manage. By automating the process you can validate the entire CA and certificate refresh process, including SHA-2 implementation.

Another recommendation is to deploy a new PKI hierarchy for SHA-2 and slowly migrate all systems and applications from the old one. In doing so, any system or application that does not support SHA-2 can be left using the old PKI hierarchy while all those that do support SHA-2 can use the new, more secure PKI environment.

Where are you in your SHA-1 to SHA-2 migration? Please share any roadblocks or successes you’re experiencing.

<![CDATA[The Wild West of Encryption: A Holdup for Keys and Certificates ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-wild-west-of-encryption-a-holdup-for-keys-and-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-wild-west-of-encryption-a-holdup-for-keys-and-certificates/#When:14:00:00Z During my time at PGP which was run by some of the most passionate security trailblazer’s of their time, part of the fight was trying to teach the world that they should encrypt their data. Time and time again, I have heard people say that they have nothing to hide so they are not worried about privacy. I love Edward Snowden’s quote “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” His quote really brings it home for me.

Philip Zimmerman went to federal court and won the right to privacy for us. For me, this is up there with the right to vote. At PGP, we taught the need to encrypt and protect your data at rest and in transit. Here at Venafi, we teach that you need to protect your encryption assets—keys and certificates. Those are the new targets, because encryption is pretty good (PGP: Pretty Good Privacy), which makes our encryption keys a target of cybercriminals to break or leverage encryption in their attacks.

Sadly, they are apparently an easy target, because in most environments, digital certificates and keys are like the Wild West. Even with a software solution from a leading company like Venafi, if you don’t put the proper level of attention to managing and securing your certificates and keys, you will be vulnerable to exploitation from, at the very least, your lack of visibility.

The Wild West of Encryption

Let’s face it; unless you have a solution in place and have dedicated the right resources, you don’t have the following:

  1. You don’t know what CAs are in your environment (we have discovered rogue CAs issuing certificates in customer environments)
  2. You don’t know where all of your wild card certificates live (we have found file shares with certificates and private keys)
  3. You don’t have any control whatsoever over self-signed certificates that anyone can issue and use
  4. You don’t know what data is being sent out of your organization to some outside entity (e.g., Edward Snowden)
  5. You don’t have any guarantee that your production will not shutdown tomorrow due to a certificate-related outage
  6. You don’t have any control over or visibility into your SSH inventory, which provides privileged access to your systems
  7. You don’t have the ability to respond quickly to a problem with CAs, keys, or certificate-related outages

There are many more specific scenarios and examples I can share. The Wild West was a dangerous place. It eventually got better as communication and response times improved and society got together to solve the problem. In the Wild West days, physical banks and trains were the targets. Intercepting a train carrying a valuable payload was pretty easy because, by the time you knew you were robbed, it was too late. Today, it is digital keys and certificates. Welcome to the Wild West of encryption.

<![CDATA[For the 2nd Year Running, PCI SSC Announces Securing Keys and Certificates a PCI SIG Finalist ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/pci-ssc-announces-securing-keys-and-certificates-a-pci-sig-finalist https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/pci-ssc-announces-securing-keys-and-certificates-a-pci-sig-finalist/#When:17:45:00Z There has been a dramatic increase in attacks that leverage keys and certificates, and the recent breadth and criticality of vulnerabilities, from Heartbleed to POODLE, underscore the importance of strong security and remediation capabilities. With the rapid growth of threats that misuse keys and certificates, it’s not surprising that the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) announced today in its PCI Monitor weekly newsletter that Securing Cryptographic Keys and Digital Certificates is among the five finalists selected for a 2016 Special Interest Group (SIG) project in support of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

This is the second year running that the PCI SSC has designated key and certificate security as a SIG finalist. Although the PCI Participating Organizations did not elect key and certificate security as a 2015 SIG last year, the PCI SSC has selected it as a finalist again—this time for the 2016 PCI SIGs—showing the council’s support for this important security and the need for a SIG in this area. Its acceptance for the second time emphasizes how critical it is for organizations to protect keys and certificates, which establish the trust on which businesses depend—securing data, keeping communications safe and private, and establishing trust between communicating parties.

This year the vulnerabilities in SSL and early TLS moved the PCI Council to eliminate their use under PCI DSS 3.1. However, to date, there has not been specific guidance on how to best implement and secure keys and certificates with detailed information on industry best practices and how these security elements interrelate for optimal protection.

Both organizations and Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs) will benefit from this SIG. We have increased our reliance on keys and certificates that protect communications and authorize and authenticate servers, devices, software, cloud, and privileged administrators and users. As for the PCI DSS, keys and certificates are critical to securing cardholder data, as well as all sensitive electronic information, and are specifically mentioned throughout the standard. But the PCI DSS requirements demand more visibility and security over keys and certificates than most organizations can deliver.

PCI SSC Special Interest Group Selection

Are you one of the doubters that don’t think you’ll become a victim? It looks like many G5000 organizations are. But odds are you’re already a victim—according to Ponemon Institute research, for the last four years running, every major enterprise has been attacked using compromised keys and certificates. So, I hope all of the doubters are getting converted to believers—the likelihood that you’ll be a victim of an attack on trust is very high and, without the right security in place, the impact even higher. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) that target keys and certificates such as APT 1, APT 18, Mask, POODLE, FREAK, Shellshock, and the Sony breach, as well as the Chinese certificate authority, CNNIC, involved in the issuance of malicious certificates, are just a few examples that underscore the importance of strong key and certificate security and remediation capabilities.

The open approach of the PCI DSS requirements provides flexibility to implementing organizations, which is helpful when working to secure unique business environments. But organizations subject to the PCI DSS and QSAs need more clarity on how to secure keys and certificates to establish a foundation of trust for an effective security program and a defense against today’s cyber threats.

We have two primary objectives for this SIG:

  • Develop the document PCI DSS Cryptographic Key and Digital Certificate Security Guidelines
  • Draft a compliance checklist which outlines the different security options to meet the PCI DSS requirements for keys and certificates

So what’s next? Video presentations of the selected PCI SIG finalists will presented at the 2015 PCI Community Meetings in North America (September) and Europe (November), and on the PCI SSC website. After the community meetings, an election will be held and the PCI Participating Organizations will vote. The leading 1-2 SIG topics will become PCI SIG projects for 2016.

We have several participants already committed to supporting the SIG, including QSAs, vendors, and merchants in the Global 2000. We hope that PCI Participating Organizations will follow the council’s show of support for key and certificate security for two years running and vote for this important SIG.

If you are the voting member of a PCI Participating Organization, vote for Cryptographic Key and Digital Certificate Security as a 2016 SIG and consider becoming one of the SIG participants.

<![CDATA[Research: Clueless Enterprises Miss Certificate Breaches]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/research-clueless-enterprises-miss-certificate-breaches https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/research-clueless-enterprises-miss-certificate-breaches/#When:15:00:00Z This article was originally posted by IDG Connect on August 5, 2015 at: http://www.idgconnect.com/abstract/10251/research-clueless-enterprises-miss-certificate-breaches

Attacks on digital keys and certificates are very different to typical cyberattacks and are becoming increasingly common, leaving victims open to devastating security breaches.

With a compromised or stolen key, cyber criminals can impersonate, surveil, and monitor their targets, as well as decrypt traffic and impersonate websites, code, or administrators. Unsecured keys and certificates give attackers unrestricted access to their victim’s network, where they may go undetected for some time with trusted access, siphoning off confidential data to use for criminal ends.

In light of attacks such as Sony Pictures Entertainment last year, Venafi conducted a survey amongst IT security professionals to garner what they do to prevent breaches and establish greater trust online? Disturbingly, the data revealed that most IT professionals acknowledge they don’t know how to detect or remediate compromised cryptographic keys and digital certificates.

The survey results highlighted that 38% of respondents can’t, or don’t know how to, detect compromised keys and certificates, and 56% of the other respondents said they are using a combination of Next Generation Fire Walls (NGFW), anti-virus, Intrusion Defense Systems (IDS), Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), and sandboxes to find these types of attacks.

One area in which cybercriminals are taking advantage is through Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypted traffic, which is rapidly gaining momentum in enterprises. According to market research company Gartner, 50% of all inbound and network attacks will use SSL/Transport Layer Security (TLS) by 2017. Attackers are aware that most security systems either trust SSL/TLS or don’t have access to keys to decrypt traffic and search out hidden risks. These security weaknesses create blind spots that subvert critical security controls.

Broken Link in Security

Perturbingly, almost two-thirds (64%) of security professionals admitted that they are not able to respond quickly (within 24 hours) to attacks on keys, and most said it would take three or more days, or up to a week, to detect, diagnose, and replace keys that have been breached.

Following a breach, more than three-quarters (78%) of those surveyed said they would still only complete partial remediation which would leave them vulnerable to further attacks. When asked what their organisational strategy is to protect the online trust provided by keys and certificates, only 43% of respondents said that they use a key management system. Another 16% had no idea. A manual process was being used by 14%, whilst 22% placed the responsibility elsewhere in the enterprise.

The survey findings are concerning given the increase in attacks on internet trust and the major SSL/TLS and SSH key and certificate-related vulnerabilities we’ve seen over the past six months alone. From Heartbleed, ShellShock, POODLE, the Gogo man-in-the middle attacks, Lenovo’s Superfish vulnerability, FREAK and now the LogJam flaw, cybercriminals are all too aware of the vulnerabilities in unprotected keys and certificates and are using these weaknesses to carry out malicious acts.

Read the full article at: http://www.idgconnect.com/abstract/10251/research-clueless-enterprises-miss-certificate-breaches

<![CDATA[Superfish: One Step Closer to Sinking our Boat ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/superfish-one-step-closer-to-sinking-our-boat https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/superfish-one-step-closer-to-sinking-our-boat/#When:16:00:00Z Original article published at Infosecurity Magazine on August 25, 2015: http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/superfish-one-step-closer/

Earlier this year Lenovo got caught installing Superfish adware on its laptops. Superfish breaks open SSL/TLS encryption using forged digital certificates and unwittingly allows bad guys to exploit the digital trust they provide. Unfortunately, man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks with forged certificates are nothing new.

The SSL/TLS trust model is designed to protect communications end-to-end. But Lenovo inserted the Superfish CA certificate as trusted, meaning that all of the MITM certificates were trusted within the browser, thereby exposing users to insecure sites or interception of private communications. Whilst Lenovo admitted its mistake and claims to no longer ship adware, it is clear that the system of trust established by keys and certificates is under attack.

Keys and certificates were designed to be like the biological tags in living cells – identifying what’s safe and trusted. However, we left out one thing it seems: an immune system to keep up with what really is trusted. There’s a lot we can learn from our human immune system and apply to the cyber realm.

Read the full article at: http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/superfish-one-step-closer/

<![CDATA[How Are We Still Talking About Broken Trust?]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/how-are-we-still-talking-about-broken-trust https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/how-are-we-still-talking-about-broken-trust/#When:18:57:00Z We live in the age of technology. It is a fast-paced, break-neck ride to deliver great solutions—everything from the largest, complex integrated solution to the single, simple iPhone app. With online solutions a part of so much of our everyday lives, why are we still talking about digital certificates, the backbone of internet communication, being broken?

I will tell you why. It’s hard. Once Netscape introduced the SSL protocol used with x.509 certificates in 1994, it was obvious we needed to fix online communication and FAST. We seized the quickest solution and the use of x.509 certificates with SSL for online communications soared. With this protection, online commerce exploded with the confidence that identity and privacy could be ensured.

Well, the internet is all “grow’d up” and our SSL/TLS solution needs to be refitted. Moxie Marlinspike at Defcon 19 in 2011 told an over-packed audience of hackers at the Rio in Las Vegas that the way we establish trust needs to change; we need to take the power back from trust stores that have been force-fed into our systems and make our own intelligible decision on who or what we want to trust. Convergence Beta was then created.

I just got back from Defcon 23 and, yet again, there were several talks on exploiting digital certificate weaknesses. Besides the few sneaky hacks I saw, it was interesting to see a solution proposed to the open source community to try and help our broken trust. A couple of guys, for the love of protected communications, came up with a product called TLS Canary (warning: the content is provocative). In real time, it will check the trustworthiness of the certificate you are trying to access and tell you whether it is good or bad.

Defcon 23 Discusses Broken Online Trust

There are now several approaches to certificate trustworthiness, but we need to ensure that we’re turning to a comprehensive source. Google is running the Google CT (Certificate Transparency) project, TLS Canary has been developed, and we have the SSL Observatory. In addition, some people are trying to solve issues with certificate pinning. Good, great! Finally we have several groups out there pushing for and delivering solutions. Everyone is starting to see the issue that Venafi has been solving for years. Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™, provides the single most comprehensive source of certificate trustworthiness.

Venafi has a platform that not only helps you establish what to trust through its TrustNet product, but will also bring order to the chaos that is your PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) and keys though the Trust Protection Platform. Technology overall has been slow to address its trust issues, and understandably, because it’s hard. But let’s heal our known broken trust issues already so we can get new, interesting topics at Defcon!

<![CDATA[Encrypt Like Everyone is Watching—Decrypt Like No One Is]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/encrypt-like-everyone-is-watching https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/encrypt-like-everyone-is-watching/#When:16:20:00Z I just attended Black Hat 2015, and what a great conference it was. I learned that “hackers,” including white hats, grey hats, and black hats, are really interesting people. At Black Hat, I saw briefings on how to hack a Jeep, a smart card, android, iOS, Windows, HTTPS, and a fingerprint. Pretty much anything can be hacked. Some do it for the greater good, letting the manufacturers know so the security can be hardened down and the hacks cannot occur in the future.

The presentation on the Black Hat network was especially interesting. This year was the first year that the network operations center (NOC) was open to the attendees of Black Hat to tour. The NOC is a labor of love for a lot of IT security professionals—many even take PTO to make it happen. This is the network that is used for the training classes at Black Hat. The top websites visited, top applications used, botnets detected, and malware detected were presented.

The people that run the NOC do keep a close eye on any “egregious” hacks, but how is that defined, really? Think of what these folks, doing their labor of love, learn about the attack vectors that are coming. Wow! If the hack is being taught at a training class, then they are expecting it. However, they did state that all types of hacks were done to each other, one attendee of the conference to another.

At the conference, 80% of the traffic was encrypted this year using TLS, which is way up from past years. This is a really interesting antidote, if you think about how a hacker can go undetected in encrypted traffic.

SSL/TLS Protects Black Hat 2015 Traffic

These Black Hat sessions highlight how important it is to encrypt sensitive information properly so it isn’t available to hackers. Maybe, even more importantly, is the ability to conduct SSL/TLS inspection by decrypting the ingress and egress of traffic for your enterprise. SSL/TLS inspection ensures that there is no malware phoning home to a command and control center or a hacker, who is landing and expanding on your systems.

How are you protecting SSL/TLS in your organization? Are you using SHA-2, at least 2048 bit keys, short validity periods, and SSL/TLS 1.2 to protect your SSL/TLS sessions? Do you have visibility into where all of your SSL/TLS keys are located to prevent outages? Would you be able to find a fake certificate issued in your brand name in your enterprise or on the internet? Are you conducting SSL/TLS inspection at your organization? Overall, do you feel you are protected from hacking when you use SSL/TLS?

<![CDATA[IT Security:  ♫ It’s all About the Basics, ‘Bout the Basics, No Trouble ♫]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/it-security-its-all-about-the-basics https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/it-security-its-all-about-the-basics/#When:15:03:00Z Okay—stop laughing, everyone (and I mean everyone) knows I am no singer, but IT Security professionals really need to ensure they have the basics in place and I liked the attention this title brought to light as the foundation for this blog.

As I think back over the high-profile (and some of the not so high-profile…) hacks and breaches that have occurred over the last 18 months, I asked myself:

  • How many have been the result of the smartest, most ingenious hackers in the world?
  • How many have happened because someone just did something by accident?
  • How many have happened just because they didn’t have visibility into their network and security dashboards?

As I sat down and did some research and consulted with my peers around the world, I came to this conclusion: we are truly neglecting the security basics and need to get back to them fast. So what are the basics exactly?

Step #1 Take Careful Inventory of Your Assets and Software: You can’t protect what you don’t know you have and many organizations often skip this basic but fundamental step. I’ve seen several instances of this recently while working with companies to improve their key and certificate security. Many companies simply do not have a complete inventory—they have no idea how many keys and certs they have or how they are being used or misused. In a recent survey that Venafi commissioned with the Ponemon Institute, the results revealed that the average enterprise has almost 24,000 keys and certificates and 54 percent of security professionals admit to being unaware of where all of their keys and certificates are located. This is just one example, but it underscores the reality that organizations need a good inventory of ALL IT assets, identities, hardware, keys and certs, and software.

Almost 24,000 Keys and Certificates per Enterprise

Step #2 Establish A Trusted Baseline: Organizations need to establish and update a known good state, or baseline. Baselines can be used to identify when security issues arise and provide a means to return the organization back to a known good state after a breach.

A few years back, I read an article with an analogy that struck me. Coupled with the old saying when trying to find something that seems impossible: “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.” It was changed a bit to be more relevant and has held meaning for me ever since:“You don’t need to know what the needle(s) look like; you just have to know what the hay looks like. You take all the hay out and only the needle(s) are left.”

So how does this relate to baselining? If you take the known good out (your current baseline), then you’re left with the needle(s).  Those needles can be good or bad, but now you know about them and can take proper action, and are able to begin remediation or restore to a known good state.

Step #3 Deploy a Strong Security Foundation: Once you have a complete inventory and you know what you need to protect, the next step is to deploy a good security foundation to build upon. Today, many companies are spending money on expensive “Next-Gen” or “Threat Intel” solutions and are not putting enough emphasis on the basics. You need to know what you have in order to protect it. There are many guidelines out there such as the SANS 20 Critical Security Controls. SANS starts with an “Inventory of Authorized and Unauthorized Devices, and Inventory of Authorized and Unauthorized Software”—obviously to my earlier point, visibility into your inventory is crucial. There are many other standards, guidelines, etc. out there, and it is up to you to determine what you want to work with for the regulations that you must comply with in your industry.

Step #4 Beef Up Your Detection: We tend to become overly invested in and overly reliant on our preventative capabilities to mitigate cybersecurity threats. This is often at the cost of good detection capabilities. In addition to inventories and baselines, IT security teams need to establish strong processes and procedures in incident response plans, triage/analysis tactics, and log monitoring. When there is a breach, organizations need to be able to quickly identify anomalous behavior and remediate, and to return the systems/networks to a good, trusted state while minimizing damages, recovery time, and costs. This need for detection applies across all technical, administrative, and procedural domains regardless of whether the compromise impacts hardware, software, user IDs, privileged access, keys and certificates, or any other IT security asset.

When was the last time you tested your incident response plans? People come and go; processes are always changing, and those changes need to be taken into consideration each and every time you exercise your plans; and don’t forget to follow-up with a postmortem analysis to see what worked and what didn’t.

These are a few easy steps that security professionals should always consider when it comes to establishing the security basics. Without these foundations to build upon, how can we ever hope to keep up with the bad guys who are always two steps ahead?

Remember—It’s all about the basics, ‘bout the basics—and hopefully no trouble!


P.S. Don’t forget to follow me on my new Twitter handle: @QueenofCandor

<![CDATA[Contemplating Health Analogies in Cyber Security & Why We Need The Immune System for the Internet™]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/contemplating-health-analogies-in-cyber-security https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/contemplating-health-analogies-in-cyber-security/#When:21:58:00Z Over the past 30 years, we’ve seen many health analogies used across the entire cyber security industry. If you think about it, it does make a lot of sense: just as viruses make humans sick, they too can also make computers sick and as a result, networks are disrupted or even shut down. To combat the problem of viruses, companies like Symantec and McAfee developed anti-virus solutions and a whole new industry was born.

Today, computer viruses have evolved into sophisticated malware and advanced persistent threats (APTs) that antivirus and other signature-based technologies simply cannot detect.While new markets and perimeter-based security technologies have been developed to help detect APT-like threats—IDS/IPS, NGFWs, DLP and more—hackers have upped their game and now are using the foundation of the Internet and cybersecurity—cryptographic keys and digital certificates—to evade detection, spoof websites and carry out their attacks to steal sensitive data. And keys and certificates run on everything including IoT devices, mobile phones, clouds, even airplanes and cars, and we blindly trust them. Unfortunately, certificate misuse by hackers is at an all-time high and it’s only getting worse. As we use more certificates to encrypt communications and authentication entities, bad guys will only become more interested in using them.

At Venafi, we have been saying for months that Global 5000 organizations and federal governments need The Immune System for the Internet™ because online trust is severely broken.

Humans have evolved a highly effective immune system. It’s always turned on, working to authenticate what is “self” and trusted and what is not self and dangerous. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the cyber realm—there’s no effective immune system to defend against a new generation of cyber attacks—until now.

Websites, servers, mobile devices, and software are marked as “self” and “trusted” using cryptographic keys and digital certificates. With a compromised, stolen, or forged key and certificate, attackers can impersonate, surveil, and monitor their targets’ websites, infrastructure, clouds, mobile devices, and system administrators, and decrypt communications thought to be private. There’s no system today that constantly assesses keys and certificates to determine if they should be trusted, and that adapts to changing threats.

Just like your immune system, The Immune System for the Internet provided by Venafi learns and adapts as it works. It identifies what keys and certificates are trusted and those that need to be replaced. It keeps keys and certificates secured to your policy and replaces them automatically. It scales keys and certificates up and down to meet demand. From stopping certificate-based outages to enabling SSL inspection, Venafi creates an ever-evolving, intelligent response, just like an immune system, that protects your network, your business, and your brand.

So while comparing and making health analogies about cyber security is not necessarily new, Venafi as The Immune System for the Internet is—because it allows us to rapidly detect what shouldn’t be trusted and respond quickly, which is exactly what our immune system does, and what we need to do to stay ahead of the cyber criminals. Venafi is The Immune System for the Internet that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity—keys and certificates—so they can’t be misused by bad guys. Let me know if you’d like to discuss details on how we can help.

<![CDATA[Meet Us at Black Hat 2015: Blue Coat and Venafi Security Experts Discuss How to Combat SSL/TLS Encry]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/meet-us-at-black-hat-2015-blue-coat-and-venafi-security-experts https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/meet-us-at-black-hat-2015-blue-coat-and-venafi-security-experts/#When:15:44:00Z It’s going to be an exciting week at Black Hat USA 2015 and we are certainly looking forward to it!  Venafi is teaming up with Blue Coat to conduct a technical briefing at Black Hat on how to eliminate SSL/TLS encryption blind spots.  Gartner believes that by 2017, more than 50% of the network attacks, both inbound and outbound, will use encrypted SSL/TLS communications.  And why is that? Well, attackers today are focusing on hiding in SSL/TLS traffic because they know that most network security solutions are “blind” to SSL/TLS traffic.  The majority of organizations blindly trust encrypted communications and don’t, or can’t, decrypt traffic. This means they can’t assess and block threats that leverage SSL/TLS.

Blue Coat and Venafi at Black Hat

How bad is the problem? According to Gartner, less than 20% of organizations with a firewall, IPS, or UTM appliance decrypt SSL traffic. That means 80% of these organizations might be allowing cybercriminals to leverage SSL/TLS tunnels to sneak malware into their network, hide command-and-control traffic, and pilfer sensitive data.

The reason for this security blind spot to SSL/TLS traffic is two-fold: (1) Security systems can’t inspect encrypted traffic or their performance can’t keep up; and (2) Security systems lack the cryptographic keys and digital certificates from across the network that are needed to decrypt SSL/TLS traffic.  This inability to inspect SSL/TLS encrypted traffic undermines traditional layered defenses and increases the risk of a data breach and data loss.

What do you need to enable SSL/TLS decryption and threat inspection?  The Black Hat 2015 briefing, Your Threat Detection Strategy is Only 50% Effective,  co-presented with Blue Coat, provides guidance on how SSL/TLS impacts security controls and how you can eliminate SSL/TLS security blind spots. Go to Venafi.com/BH2015 to register for the briefing.  Together, Venafi and Blue Coat solutions maximize SSL/TLS decryption and uncover threats. 

And if you pre-register, you’ll get a $30 Amazon gift card when you attend as well as a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card per session.

Drop me a line if you want to learn more. I hope to see you there!

<![CDATA[Black Hat Briefings on Cryptographic Keys and Digital Certificates]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/black-hat-briefings-on-cryptographic-keys-and-digital-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/black-hat-briefings-on-cryptographic-keys-and-digital-certificates/#When:18:39:00Z Black Hat USA 2015 is right around the corner and it’s time to start planning which briefings to attend.

Here at Venafi, we’re interested in sessions on protecting cryptographic keys and digital certificates. Keys and certificates are the foundation of online trust, but cybercriminals, hacktivists, and nation states are misusing them to gain unauthorized access and hide their actions.

Venafi and Blue Coat security experts will be conducting cybersecurity briefings that cover 3 different cybersecurity topics and, if you register in advance for a session, you’ll receive a $30 Amazon gift card when you attend. We have also identified others sessions that impact key and certificate security. Check out these briefings we’ve added to our dance card for this year’s Black Hat.

Venafi is a BlackHat USA 2015 Sponsor

Venafi Cybersecurity Briefings

  1. Your Threat Detection Strategy is Only 50% Effective
    While SSL/TLS provides privacy and authentication, it also creates a blind spot for enterprise security. Most organizations lack the ability to decrypt and inspect SSL traffic and bad guys are taking full advantage. This session, co-presented with Blue Coat, provides guidance on how SSL/TLS impacts security controls and how you can eliminate security blind spots. Register here.

  2. Advanced Attacks, Encryption, & Certificate Reputation
    As private encryption keys are now sold on the underground marketplace for circa $1000 each, it has become easy for hackers to breach even the most security conscious organizations. This session demonstrates how certificate reputation services are designed to identify and stop certificate misuse globally. Register here.

  3. Are Certificate-related Outages Impacting Your Business?
    We rely on digital certificates and cryptographic keys for data protection and authentication. But as security instruments, certificates can, and do, expire, bringing down systems and blocking access to servers, websites, and potentially dozens of critical downstream services. Attend and learn how to eliminate outages caused by expired certificates and reduce your security risks. Register here.

All registered attendees for Venafi briefings will also have a chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card per session. To check out what else Venafi is doing at Black Hat, visit Venafi.com/BH2015.

At Black Hat, we also want to hear what other thought leaders have to say about ensuring keys and certificates remain secure and continue to enable online trust. We’re looking forward to the following sessions:

  • Back Doors and Front Doors Breaking the Unbreakable System
    Governments are demanding backdoor access to encrypted data to support criminal and national security investigations, but this is opposed by privacy advocates. This briefing discusses if government agencies could be given backdoor access to encrypted data without weakening encryption systems.

  • Breaking HTTPS with BGP Hijacking
    Many believe BGP hijacking is not a significant threat, because the resulting man-in-the-middle attack cannot decrypt or break into an encrypted connection. But this briefing will show how the trust that SSL/TLS PKI places in internet routing can be exploited and how to prevent it.

  • Faux Disk Encryption: Realities of Secure Storage on Mobile Devices
    With the number of mobile users now surpassing the number of desktop users, this briefing discusses mobile device security and how it must go beyond full-disk encryption to protect against most attacks types. The session will present other secure storage techniques for both iOS and Android.

  • Certifi-gate: Front-Door Access to Pwning Millions of Androids
    Learn how a vulnerability within the Android customization chain can be exploited to access unsecure apps and gain access to any device. This will include information on how hash collisions, IPC abuse, and certificate forging can grant malware complete control of a device.

  • TrustKit: Code Injection on iOS 8 for the Greater Good
    See how Trustkit, a new open-source library for iOS, provides universal SSL public key pinning that the developers call “drag & drop SSL pinning.” This open-source library leverages new iOS 8 rules regarding dynamic linking and will be available for deployment by attendees.

  • Bringing a Cannon to a Knife Fight
    Bulletproof yourself against China’s Great Cannon which intercepts traffic as a man-in-the-middle proxy and turns global visitors to Chinese sites into the world’s largest botnet that carries out attacks on sites deemed a threat to the Chinese Communist Party. Learn how the Great Cannon works, about the timing of its release, why it was used to attack the Github repos, and how it will change as HTTPS and DNSSEC become more widely used.

Are there other sessions at Black Hat that address cryptographic keys and digital certificates that you plan to attend? Thoughts about any of these upcoming briefings? Drop me a comment.

<![CDATA[Poor Privileged Access Management Poses Big Security Problems]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/poor-privileged-access-management-poses-big-security-problems https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/poor-privileged-access-management-poses-big-security-problems/#When:20:25:00Z With endless headlines touting the latest costly security breach, you would think that enterprises would be scrupulous about guarding the “keys to their kingdom.” Think again. The keys to the enterprise kingdom I’m talking about are secure shell, or SSH, keys. SSH is a cryptographic security protocol used to connect administrators and machines, allowing users or applications to gain secure remote access to another system. The kingdom, of course, is your valuable corporate IT assets. Users bearing SSH keys have the highest level of rights and privileges. But what if those users aren’t who they say they are? And, what if those users are bent on harm?

All enterprises rely on SSH keys to authenticate and provide privileged access for administrators, applications, and virtual instances in data centers and the cloud. But even though SSH keys provide root access to critical systems, they are treated with weaker policies than those tolerated for much lower levels of access, such as passwords. A recent survey by the Ponemon Institute canvassed over 2100 security professionals working in the U.S., U.K. Germany, and Australia—countries typically considered to be in the forefront of security practices. The results were disturbing.

System Administrators SSH Keys

Most organizations have an over-reliance on system administrators, not IT security, to self-police SSH keys. As a result, organizations are unable to identify how many SSH keys they have, who uses them, and what they access. In many companies, busy department administrators are charged with deploying and protecting SSH keys on the systems owned by their department. This creates a partitioned security structure with no ability to centralize visibility, policy enforcement, or incident tracking and remediation.

In the Ponemon Institute survey, 53% of organizations admitted they lack centralized control over their SSH key usage and access policies, and 60% are unable to detect the introduction of new SSH keys into their network. This lack of visibility hinders policy enforcement and detection of SSH key security issues.

SSH keys do not expire, creating a perpetual vulnerability if not rotated. But the Ponemon survey results show a surprising 82% change their SSH keys at best every 12 months—much longer than the 60-90 day policy for passwords which have less privileged access. This weak policy enforcement is resulting in dire consequences. Over half of organizations surveyed responded to a security incident related to SSH key misuse within the last 2 years. And those were the people willing to admit it. The sad reality is that the real percentage is likely much higher.

The manual approaches and customized scripts that enterprises are using to manage their SSH keys are not protecting their businesses. In the survey, of those that use homegrown scripted solutions to manage SSH keys, 54% were still compromised by rogue SSH keys on their networks—a clear indication that these solutions cannot detect anomalies in SSH key usage.

But there’s a silver lining to this storm cloud. A Forrester Research paper, Gaps in SSH Security Create an Open Door for Attackers, provides five steps you can take right now to regain control of your SSH-based privileged access management:

  1. Centralize control and visibility for all SSH hosts in the data center and cloud to effectively enforce policies for all enterprise SSH keys.
  2. Establish a baseline of normal key usage—including where keys are located, how they are used, who has access to them, and what trust relationships have been established within your network.
  3. Regularly rotate SSH keys using lifecycle periods similar to other credentials (e.g. 60-90 day password lifecycles) to increase their security.
  4. Continuously monitor SSH key usage across the network to identify and neutralize any rogue usage.
  5. Remediate vulnerabilities by ensuring that server and SSH key configurations adhere to common best practices, such as using 2048-bit key lengths or higher as recommended by NIST.

These 5 steps represent a good starting point, but there’s a lot more you can do. You can learn more on the Venafi solution webpages at Venafi.com/PrivilegedAccess and Venafi.com/SSHAudit. Drop me a comment and let me know what other SSH security practices you’d recommend to other security professionals.

<![CDATA[The Real Big Story Behind July’s OpenSSL Vulnerability: Why Blind Trust in Certificates Needs to End]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-real-big-story-behind-julys-openssl-vulnerability https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-real-big-story-behind-julys-openssl-vulnerability/#When:21:00:00Z Certificate reputation services can end the risk that certificate validation app developers face (and are not doing a good job of addressing)

The OpenSSL team has released a fix for a critical vulnerability that could allow an attacker to trick an application into trusting a forged certificate—lovingly called by some “OprahSSL” for its propensity to gift something valuable. Why is this so important? Why does it matter? The big story is not just this vulnerability: it’s the ongoing difficulty for apps to validate certificates and know what should be trusted.

FireEye found that 73% of the top 1,000 apps don’t even validate certificates. This lack of attention to checking what should be trusted and what shouldn’t got Fandago and Credit Karma a special 20-year relationship with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This occurred simply because their mobile apps didn’t validate certificates—meaning their mobile apps might be sharing credit card data and sensitive personal information with bad guys without a concern for the consequences. This is a problem for not just enterprise CISOs and IT security teams, but also commercial app developers, fraud prevention, and chief privacy officers (CPOs).

Native iOS apps by default can’t even identify a website with a revoked certificate
Native iOS apps by default can’t even identify a website with a revoked certificate as being non-trusted

The OpenSSL vulnerability is a clear reason why certificate reputation, now available to enterprises with Venafi TrustNet, is so important. TrustNet uses advanced algorithms as well as big data and cloud-based intelligence to validate digital certificates rather than static code that, for even advanced security professionals or developers, is confusing, at best. The complexity and vulnerabilities like this one perpetuate the “blind trust” we place in certificates today.  We’ve been validating certificates in pretty much the same way for over 20 years—what do most professionals trust in cybersecurity that’s been done the same way for just 2 years, not to mention 20? Certificate reputation services like TrustNet dramatically reduce risk.

OpenSSL’s Certificate Validation Vulnerability

For details on versions affected and patches available, get the details from OpenSSL at https://www.openssl.org/news/secadv_20150709.txt.

Unlike Heartbleed, with this vulnerability, keys and certificates are not directly exposed and do not need to be rotated. The vulnerability impacts client applications validating certificates, such as a browser, VPN, or mobile application, that use the OpenSSL libraries for SSL/TLS sessions. It also impacts server applications, like a webserver or VPN, that authenticate digital certificates presented by client applications.

This vulnerability shows again why we need to know what certificates are in use and what certificates are trusted and where.  And we need this everywhere—on our servers, desktops, and around the world on the Internet. 

Exploiting the Vulnerability

To exploit the vulnerability, an attacker needs to obtain a private key for a certificate issued from a trusted certificate authority (CA). This could be a public third-party CA trusted across browsers and the Internet, or a private CA used and trusted inside your organization. The vulnerability allows the certificate associated with the obtained key to be used as if it were a CA, even though it’s not. This means any type of certificate from a webserver to a VPN certificate could now become a trusted CA issuer.

An attacker could then forge certificates for any domain, website, or user they’d like, including you and your businesses or government. This could prove useful in executing man-in-the-middle attacks, spoofing, spear phishing, and other attacks. And it’s easy to do: OpenSSL is the perfect tool to generate keys and sign a certificate.

It’s also easy to obtain a key from a trusted CA. Depending on the end target, I might just buy a certificate from a trusted third party. If I need the certificate to chain up under a specific CA and don’t want to/can’t buy one reputability, I can easily go the underground market where stolen certificates go for $1000 or more. Or, because thousands of Trojans support the collection and extraction of keys and certificates, the job is pretty easy.

certificate reputation services - Venafi TrustNet
Native iOS apps perform little to no checking as to whether a certificate is truly valid or not, unlike certificate reputation services like Venafi TrustNet

Certificate Reputation Ends the Age of Blind Trust

Today, using Venafi TrustNet certificate reputation APIs, you can validate if a certificate should be trusted or not. This is independent of the static code or rules that might later be vulnerable, like today with OpenSSL or other libraries. Offloading these decisions to an intelligent reputation system mitigates risks of these vulnerabilities in certificate validation that are complex and difficult for even the smartest developers. The TrustNet API can be called from any application, whether a mobile app or container-based service application in the cloud. It’s one API call that takes care of all decisions about certificate chain validation, trust, validity, fraud, and vulnerabilities. Amazing! That’s the power of Venafi as the Immune System for the Internet.

Additionally, with Venafi you can discover what certificates are in use and what CAs are trusted across your organization and then whitelist or blacklist CAs. You can then enforce a policy to not trust particular CAs that your business or government finds untrustworthy, like the Chinese CA CNNIC.

All of these reasons are why Venafi as the Immune System for the Internet is critical to protecting the world’s economy today and in the future. Outside of Venafi there is no system that understands what should be trusted, what is trusted, and can fix it—whether inside the enterprise or outside across the Internet.

Like to learn more and continue the conversation? Drop me a note.

<![CDATA[New PCI DSS v3.1 SSL/TLS Requirements—But Many Aren’t Compliant with PCI DSS v3.0]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/new-pci-dss-v3.1-ssl-tls-requirementsbut-many-arent-compliant-with-pci-dss https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/new-pci-dss-v3.1-ssl-tls-requirementsbut-many-arent-compliant-with-pci-dss/#When:22:30:00Z The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) version 3.1 was released in April 2015. Yet, many organizations are still not compliant with the PCI DSS version 3.0, which went into effect on January 1, 2015. Both versions introduced new requirements for cryptographic keys and digital certificates. While businesses may have a variety of reasons for not meeting the compliance requirements pertaining to keys and certificates, it certainly isn’t because the dangers have subsided. In fact, they’re on the rise.

In a recent Poneman Institute report, 100% of the organizations surveyed said they responded to attacks using keys and certificates within the last 2 years. In response to the growing threat, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) has introduced stringent rules governing the security and management of keys and certificates.

PCI DSS non-compliance creates security risks

PCI DSS v. 3.1

Just months after PCI DSS v3.0 went into effect, the new PCI DSS v3.1 was released requiring that SSL and early versions of TLS be replaced to prevent man-in-the-attacks like POODLE. Organizations are no longer allowed to use SSL or early TLS with new systems, but have until June 30, 2016 to transition existing ones. This new mandate impacts the PCI DSS requirements that address encryption used to protect card holder data and requires an enterprise-wide transition to TLS version 1.1 and higher on in-scope systems. The process for migration to TLS 1.1 and higher can be summarized in two steps:

Step 1: Search and Triage

  • Find online applications. Can be performed by scanning network ranges on known ports.
  • Find applications that operate intermittingly. Can require searching systems for cryptographic keys and digital certificates and mapping back to applications.

Once applications and how cardholder data is processed are known, risk can be established and migration for specific applications can be prioritized. 

Step 2: Migration

Migrating to TLS 1.1 and higher will require at least updating the configuration of affected applications. It may also require updating the application to a version that operates only with TLS 1.1 and 1.2.

As migration proceeds, teams should update scans to validate migration. These scans demonstrate progress and compliance, showing SSL, early TLS, and TLS 1.1 and higher usage.

PCI DSS v. 3.0

However, most organizations still need to address the new key and certificate requirements in PCI DSS v3.0 as well. Here are the top regulations with a description of the impact to your organization’s security resources:

  • New requirement 2.4: Maintain an inventory of all in-scope system components.
    This includes all in-scope keys and certificates. But research by the Ponemon Institute shows that 54% of organizations don’t know where all of their keys and certificates are located, who owns them, or how they are used. On average, an enterprise has over 23,000 certificates floating around their network. Hunting down lost keys and certificates can be a long, painful, manual process.

  • Revised requirement 5 and new requirement 5.1.2: Protect all systems against malware and review periodically to see if protection has become necessary.
    PCI SSC wants to stress that even systems not commonly impacted by malware should be periodically assessed to determine if protection has become necessary. Organizations may view keys and certificates as uncommonly impacted by malware, but in truth, keys and certificates have become the attack method of choice. There has been a 700% growth in certificate-enabled malware from 2012 to 2015 according to Intel Security. Without first knowing where your certificates are located, it becomes impossible to protect them from misuse. A centralized platform, inventory, policy enforcement, continuous monitoring, and automated management are needed to keep keys and certificates secure.

  • New requirement 8.6: Certificates for authentication must be assigned to an individual account, not shared.
    Certificates enable strong authentication and PCI SSC wants to ensure their use and access are restricted. This regulation requires that organizations have strict usage policies in place to prevent the ambiguity of overlapping ownership and use.

  • Business as Usual (BaU) Processes: Security controls for compliance should also be part of the BAU security strategy.
    This is the PCI SSC’s way of ensuring that organizations maintain compliance on an ongoing basis. For keys and certificates, this requires that organizations adopt a centralized management and security platform with automated, ongoing monitoring and policy enforcement. Unfortunately, many organizations use legacy, error-prone, manual approaches or home grown scripts that make it difficult, if not impossible, to meet the new PCI DSS requirements governing visibility and security over keys and certificates—at best eating up weeks of time and taking significant resources.

Learn how Venafi is designed to make meeting the new PCI DSS requirements for keys and certificates easy at Venafi.com/PCI.

Last year, Securing Cryptographic Keys and Digital Certificates was a PCI SSC 2015 Special Interest Group (SIG) Finalist. This topic was not selected for 2015, but has been resubmitted for consideration as a 2016 PCI SSC SIG. Want key and certificate security as a PCI SIG? Let the PCI SSC know you’re interested! And drop me a comment if you’d like to participate.

<![CDATA[Why Strategic Investors Support Venafi as the Immune System for the Internet With $39M New Funding]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/why-were-so-passionate-about-protecting-global-5000-customers https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/why-were-so-passionate-about-protecting-global-5000-customers/#When:10:00:00Z Today we are announcing that Venafi has received $39M in new funding from strategic investors: Intel Capital, Silver Lake Waterman, QuestMark Partners, Foundation Capital, Pelion Venture Partners, and Mercato Partners. These are a mix of new and existing investors who believe in and are passionate about the Venafi vision and support our mission to restore trust online by protecting the Global 5000 as the Immune System for the Internet.

Over the past 10 years, enterprises have become more complex and connected, and their security challenges have grown with them. The bad guys are ahead in this race. But Venafi helps enterprises defend against the bad guys and has continued to grow, from a 14-person startup to an international organization working from development centers and offices around the world.

Today, Venafi protects

  • 4 of the top 5 U.S. banks
  • 8 of the top 10 U.S. health insurance companies
  • 4 of the top 7 U.S. retailers

All of whom rely on Venafi as mission-critical security to protect their keys and certificates from misuse. We are their immune system for their cyber realm.

We pioneered the first and only technology to secure keys and certificates—the foundation of all cybersecurity—and protect them from bad guys, and we have continued to evolve as the market leader. We’ve also developed the world’s largest talent of subject matter experts who know how attackers are going after keys and certificates within the Global 5000. Their expertise lets us understand how the bad guys use keys and certificates to gain trusted status and steal valuable data without detection, and how to protect against those threats.

We’ve built a technology stack that secures keys and certificates, whether in the cloud, on mobile devices, inside the firewall and/or in the Internet of Things. During the last 12 months, the most significant vulnerabilities and breaches, including Heartbleed, POODLE, Shellshock, and the attacks on Sony Pictures and others, demonstrate how unsecured keys and certificates provide the trusted status cybercriminals need to go undetected for long periods. Once authenticated with a stolen or forged key or certificate, the bad guys can further hide their activities by encrypting the malware they use against their targets and data they want to steal and exfiltrate from them.

The new funding allows us to accelerate development of the Venafi Trust Protection Platform™ to better support our fast growing customer base worldwide. The investment also demonstrates our investors’ understanding of the size of the problem and their commitment to helping solve it for the Global 5000. You can get perspective from Intel Capital’s Ken Elefant, who blogged about the funding announcement in a new posting “Why Intel Capital Believes in Securing the Foundation of Trust.”

We’ve also built an incredible leadership team with the vision and expertise to make a lasting impact on how the world approaches cybersecurity. And, like our leadership team, our current investors see that the world is changing. They know that the way that we used to think about Internet security and layering defenses isn’t enough anymore, and they want to be alongside Venafi as we develop new ways to secure and protect global enterprises.

The Immune System for the Internet: Protect Keys and Certificates

Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet. Just as humans have evolved a highly effective immune system that is constantly working to establish what is “self” and trusted, and what is “not self” and dangerous, this too must be applied to security. The human body tags all cells that belong. The human immune system continuously finds those that are not tagged and disables them. The Internet uses keys and certificates to tag what belongs. But before Venafi, there was no immune system to find those that don’t belong and disable them. This fundamental missing piece—the equivalent of an immune system—has allowed the bad guys to do amazing damage. Modern security solutions must be adaptive and responsive. They must operate like a living organism, always scanning for new threats and attacks, detecting that which doesn’t belong, and responding to keep the Internet and our intellectual property (IP) safe.

Unfortunately, as Gartner says, “We live in a world without trust,” and haven’t had an effective way to defend against a new generation of cyber attacks—until now. With Venafi as the Immune System for the Internet—continually identifying what keys and certificates are trusted and those that aren’t—we can secure and protect Global 5000 organizations from the most prevalent attacks today—attacks on the very trust provided by keys and certificates. From stopping certificate-based outages to enabling SSL inspection, Venafi creates an ever-evolving, intelligent response that protects your network, business, and brand—and by doing so, we’re able to protect e-commerce, intellectual property, and sensitive data that underlays all the largest enterprise organizations in operation today.

It’s an enormous task, but one that we meet enthusiastically. We’ll utilize this new investment to expand the Immune System, grow into new global markets, and to help Global 5000 enterprises continue to fight attacks on trust that are increasing exponentially each day.

Enterprises can no longer expect static defense mechanisms to protect them from the dynamic attacks that are launched against us every day. We must evolve. We must get smarter and stronger. We must implement an Immune System for the Internet—and we must do it now.

<![CDATA[4 Ways to Arm Your Incident Response Team for Rapid Key and Certificate Remediation]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/arm-your-incident-response-team-for-rapid-key-and-certificate-remediation https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/arm-your-incident-response-team-for-rapid-key-and-certificate-remediation/#When:16:00:00Z Your network has been attacked and your security is compromised. Your incident response (IR) team goes to work trying to discover the cause of the breach and restore your organization’s equilibrium—the faster the better. Just how fast and how thorough that process is has a lot to do with the tools your IR team uses, particularly when it comes to cryptographic key and digital certificate security.

Most security controls blindly trust keys and certificates, allowing cybercriminals to use them to hide in encrypted traffic, spoof websites, deploy malware, and steal data. The 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report, published by the Ponemon Institute, confirmed just how widespread the problem is. Every Global 5000 company in the survey had responded to an attack involving keys and certificates within the last 24 months.

Breaches using keys and certificates put sensitive data in the wrong hands and damage corporate reputations. They also consume staff hours and result in lost operational and development time. IT security professionals who responded to the Ponemon Institute estimate the total impact of attacks using keys and certificates at almost $600 million. They also estimate a total risk for each organization of $53 million over the next two years.

Incident Response teams also have to respond to outages. With the increased use of keys and certificates, there are also more outages—all organizations surveyed had 2 or more certificate-related outages over the last 2 years with a total possible impact of $15 million per outage.

The Ponemon Institute report revealed other surprising facts. The average enterprise has over 23,000 keys and certificates, but 54% of security professionals admit that they don’t know where their keys and certificates are located, who owns them, or how they are used. With this lack of visibility it’s not surprising that 100% of organizations responded to attacks using keys and certificates as well as certificate-related outages. And when they respond to incidents, most companies try to get by with issuing new certificates but not issuing new keys, which leaves an organization open to continued breaches, outages, and exploitation.

Keys and certificates in incident response plans.

Without key and certificate security built into your IR plan, your IR team won’t be able to act quickly to determine the extent of the attack and bring your organization back to a trusted, secure state. Here are 4 ways to strengthen IR with key and certificate security controls.

  1. Ensure complete visibility
    • Identify all keys and certificates across networks, cloud instances, CAs, and trust stores.
    • Map user access to servers and applications
    • Establish a baseline to identify misuse
  2. Enforce policies and workflows
    • Implement policy criteria for strong cryptography and key and certificate rotation
    • Enforce configurable workflow capabilities for replacement, issuance, and renewal
    • Track response progress with real-time dashboards and reports
    • Terminate access when needed, revoking all certificates associated to a user
  3. Automate management and security
    • Automate and validate the entire issuance and renewal process
    • Replace certificates in seconds, and remediate across thousands of certificates within hours following a certificate authority compromise or a new vulnerability such as Heartbleed
  4. Establish certificate reputation insight.
    • Use global certificate reputation to identify certificate misuse such as stolen certificates used for spoofed websites
    • Remediate immediately through certificate whitelisting and blacklisting

Just like the human immune system, Security Operations and Incident Response teams need to be able to identify what is “self” and trusted and what is not and therefore dangerous. When key and certificate security is added to your incident response plan, you can identify which keys and certificates are trusted, protect those that should be trusted, and fix or blocks those that are not. With this security in place, you can quickly return the network to a trusted state while minimizing damages, downtime, outages, recovery time, and costs—all while protecting your network, your business, and your brand.

Has your IR team recently responded to attacks using keys and certificates? What approaches has your team found helpful to return to a secure, trusted state after these attacks?

<![CDATA[Businesses Need to Act Fast to Regain Online Trust]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/businesses-need-to-act-fast-to-regain-online-trust https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/businesses-need-to-act-fast-to-regain-online-trust/#When:19:40:00Z The Internet is the life blood for today’s business. Billions of dollars in market capitalization have been built on the back of innovation and productivity gains from the Internet and connected computing. However, the idea that security professionals believe online trust is near its breaking point will probably come as a bewildering thought to many companies going about their daily business, quietly confident the Internet’s system of trust is working.

The truth is that businesses need to take their blinders off and face online security issues head on, instead of burying their heads in the sand. Shockingly, 100% of surveyed organizations have admitted being at the receiving end of multiple attacks on unsecured cryptographic keys and digital certificates in the past two years alone. Keys and certificates are the foundation of security and were put in place to attempt to solve the first Internet security problems twenty years ago: what can I trust online and can I have private communications. But, we’ve lacked an immune system to keep them safe, know what’s trusted, and find and replace them when they’re not. If businesses do not take action, they’ll be unprepared for what security experts call a ‘Cryptoapocalypse’—when a discovered cryptographic weakness becomes the ultimate cybercriminal weapon, sending business into chaos.

We’ve already seen the warning signs. Last year, for example, Russian cybercriminals stole an SSL/TLS certificate from a top-five global bank. This enabled the cyber gang to impersonate the bank and steal 80 million customer records. In another case, SSL/TLS keys and certificates enabled hackers to steal data from 4.5 million healthcare patients. Leading industry researchers have identified the misuse of keys and certificates as a key part of an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) and at the epicenter of cybercriminal operations.

The dire reality of the situation was uncovered in the 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report, released by the Ponemon Institute. It is the first report of its kind to examine the Internet’s system of trust and what happens when this system breaks down. The report found that half of respondents acknowledged that the trust established by keys and certificates, the technology used to underscore trust and privacy online, is in jeopardy. What is more worrying is the other half who are eschewing the issue of trust altogether.

Half of IT security professionals believe online trust is in jeopardy.

Can you find your keys and certificates?

With 54% of businesses unaware of the location of their keys and certificates, or how they are being used, it is easy to see how they, their customer base, and partners, fail to establish any trust online. Take away the trust created by keys and certificates, used for everything from online shopping and mobility, to banking and government, and we can see the Internet being hurtled right back into the ‘stone age’, where users have no way of knowing if a website or mobile application is actually secure. How much faith would that give you in doing business online?

The potential liability can’t be underestimated. Over the next two years, the prospective financial risk facing business from attacks on keys and certificates is expected to hit at least $53 million.

Take action now.

With the growing number of attacks on keys and certificates, businesses must see this as a wake-up call and realize that they can’t place blind trust in keys and certificates that are open to exploitation by cybercriminals. We’ll need an immune system to know what’s ours, trusted, or not. And as we move more and more to the cloud and DevOps environment, we need an immune system to scale up fast and tear down even faster, to keep everything safe and trusted.

The total number of keys and certificates used by the average business is over 23,000—up 34% from two years ago, thanks to an increase in deployment on web servers, network devices, and cloud services.

Over 23,000 keys and certificates in the average organization.

With no alternatives to keys and certificates available, the first priority is to make sure they are adequately protected. Businesses must make sure they know exactly where their keys and certificates are, fix any vulnerabilities, and make sure they are changed and replaced automatically.

Organizations need to put strict policies in place to know who they can, and cannot, trust. Before a certificate is issued a business should make sure it knows exactly how it will be used, who will own it internally, and if it fits into the existing security policy. And with more cloud and DevOps environments, we can only accomplish this with an immune system that’s machine-based to scale up and down in seconds.

Businesses must not forget to include enterprise mobile certificates in their cyber security policy. The misuse of these for applications such as WiFi, VPN and MDM/EMM is a growing concern, especially with an increase in mobile employees and the adoption of BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices). Security professionals indicated that attacks using mobile certificates have the largest impact of all attacks using keys and certificates with a total possible impact of $126 million.

Businesses should sweep the Internet regularly to see if there are any ‘spoofed’ or stolen certificates out there claiming to belong to them. Stolen certificates are now being sold for $1000 and more. This is such a big problem that Intel believes it will be the next big hacker marketplace. Each business’s immune system for its cyber realm should detect these issues and rapidly respond to anomalies as well as know how to fix and replace vulnerable keys and certificates quickly.

It is critical that organizations put broad cyber security controls in place. It’s not possible just to focus in on one type of security control. And, it’s critically important that the foundational elements for security, like keys and certificates, be secured first. Cybercriminals won’t question the size or sector of a business when they attack.

<![CDATA[Examining the Impact of the OMB and Congress’ Moves to Add More Encryption and Address the CAs]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/examining-the-impact-of-congress-moves-to-add-more-encryption https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/examining-the-impact-of-congress-moves-to-add-more-encryption/#When:15:00:00Z On the heels of the U.S government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach last week and other recent examples of cyber attacks involving the malicious use of keys and certificates, it's not that surprising to see two major developments this week to increase encryption use and improve website security in general.

This week, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced it would require federal agencies to use HTTPS. A day later, House Energy & Commerce Committee sent letters to Apple, Microsoft, Google and Mozilla, asking them what they can do to limit or constrain certificate authorities (CAs) issuing certificates outside of their home domains. While they may seem unrelated, these two initiatives go hand in hand. 

While the intentions for more encryption are good (and ironically what Edward Snowden publically called for two years ago) to ensure the authenticity and privacy of federal websites, the OMB’s announcement to increase the use of HTTPS has significant gaps if not properly implemented with an immune system to protect the cryptographic keys and digital certificates. More encrypted traffic will require bad guys to use HTTPS and either forge or compromise certificates to mount effective attacks.

https encryption

First, this means that all federal agencies must be inspecting inbound traffic for threats as they move toward 100 percent encryption. At this point, no traffic can go un-inspected because cybercriminals will hide there for months, even years, completely undetected (can anyone say Careto?).

Second, agencies must be prepared to detect the malicious use of forged, compromised, or fraudulent certificates across the Internet to stop spoofing and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.

In its directive, OMB has yet to specify or mandate any type of key or certificate management system to ensure their proper care and protection. And there was no reference to or mention of the government’s NIST guidance issued two years ago for preparing for a CA compromise. That’s why it was interesting to see Congress’ letter to the browsers about limiting or constraining certain CAs.   

At Venafi, we've been saying for months that governments should be very concerned about who is trusted in our browsers and if we can trust that any website is secure. That's why we applauded Mozilla and Google for blocking CNNIC, the Chinese CA, back in April.

At this point, any CA in the world, through fraud or compromise, could issue malicious certificates for .gov domains (as well as .com and others). We need to be able to ensure that CAs cannot mis-issue certificates or issue malicious ones that might end up being used as a weapon against the U.S. or its allies. While Google Certificate Transparency (CT) helps it only covers the high-level extended validation (EV) certificates, and doesn’t help with compromise and misuse after issuance. This is why Certificate Reputation is becoming increasingly popular.

What the U.S. OMB and Congress have done is important, and are most certainly positive steps in the right direction, the reality is that now we're only going to have more encrypted traffic which makes the U.S. an even bigger target for cybercriminals who can hide and take on trusted status. In the meantime, unless we use an Immune System for Internet—one that can identify certificates, safely deliver them for use with SSL/TLS inspection, and detect and stop the misuse of certificates for governments and enterprises—we will remain extremely vulnerable to these types of attacks that are increasing at an alarming rate (remember CHS, Sony, Heartbleed, POODLE and Shellshock?). What are your thoughts on the U.S. government’s attempts to better secure government websites and web services?

<![CDATA[Security Pros (Blindly) Trust Keys and Certificates]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/security-pros-blindly-trust-keys-and-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/security-pros-blindly-trust-keys-and-certificates/#When:12:00:00Z A Venafi Survey of Nearly 850 IT Security Professionals Finds Gaps in Detection and Response to Key and Certificate Vulnerabilities

Attacks on keys and certificates are unlike other common cyber attacks seen today. With a compromised or stolen key, attackers can impersonate, surveil, and monitor their organizational targets as well as decrypt traffic and impersonate websites, code, or administrators. Unsecured keys and certificates provide the attackers with unrestricted access to the target’s networks and allow them to go undetected for long periods of time with trusted status and access.

And we’ve seen many recent instances of these types of attacks. From the GoGo man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks to Lenovo’s Superfish vulnerability to FREAK and now the more recent LogJam flaw, cybercriminals know unprotected keys and certificates are vulnerable and will use them to carry out their malicious deeds.

The bad guys are able to take advantage of these new vulnerabilities, because most security systems blindly trust keys and certificates. In the absence of an immune system for the internet, enterprises are unable to determine what is “self” and trusted in their networks and what is not and therefore dangerous. Not knowing what is trusted and “self” or how to detect or remediate from attacks on keys and certificates keeps organizations open to breach and compromise.

RSA Conference 2015 USA

In light of recent attacks on trust, Venafi conducted a survey of nearly 850 IT security professionals during the RSA 2015 Conference to see what they were doing to stave off breaches and establish better trust online. The data reveals that most IT security professionals acknowledge they don’t know how to detect or remediate quickly from compromised cryptographic keys and digital certificates—the foundation of trust in our modern online world.

Here are other important findings from the Venafi RSA study:

  • Respondents are ill informed on how to remediate a Sony-like breach involving theft of keys and certificates. Following a breach, more than three-quarters (78 percent) of those surveyed would still only complete partial remediation that would leave them vulnerable to further attacks. They would conduct standard practices such as re-imaging servers, reviewing logs, removing malware, installing patches, and changing user passwords. However, only 8 percent indicated they would fully remediate against a Sony-like attack by replacing potentially compromised keys and certificates to prevent further access.

  • IT security professionals don’t know how to protect keys and certificates and their organizations don’t have a clear understanding or strategy for doing so. When asked what their organizational strategy is to protect the online trust provided by keys and certificates, only 43 percent of respondents reported that they are using a key management system. Another 16 percent have no idea, 14 percent said they are using a manual process to try to manage them, and 22 percent placed the responsibility elsewhere. Without a strategy and implemented security controls to protect keys and certificates, attackers can gain and maintain extensive access to the target’s networks and remain undetected for long periods of time with trusted status.

  • Many IT security professionals can’t or don’t know how to detect compromised keys and certificates. The survey results showed that 38 percent of respondents can’t or don’t know how to detect compromised keys and certificates and 56 percent of the other respondents said they are using a combination of next generation firewalls, anti-virus, IDS/IPS, and sandboxes to detect these types of attacks. Both groups leave themselves open to additional attacks. According to Gartner, 50 percent of all inbound and outbound network attacks will use SSL/TLS by 2017. Bad actors understand that most security systems either trust SSL/TLS or lack access to the keys to decrypt traffic and find hidden threats. These security shortcomings create blind spots and undermine critical security controls like sandbox threat protection, NGFW, IDS/IPS, and DLP.

  • More than half of IT security professionals admit that they cannot quickly respond to an attack on SSH keys. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of security professionals admit that they are not able to respond quickly (within 24 hours) to attacks on SSH keys, and most said it would take three or more days, or up to a week, to detect, diagnose, and replace keys on all hosts if breached. Cybercriminals are exploiting the lack of visibility and control over SSH keys, which are used to authenticate administrators, servers, and clouds. Because SSH keys never expire, cybercriminals and insiders alike gain almost permanent ownership of systems and networks by stealing SSH keys.

The results of this study underscore what we at Venafi have been saying all along: IT security pros can no longer place blind trust in keys and certificates. We must realize that the keys and certificates we rely upon to establish trusted connections for everything IP-enabled today are in major jeopardy as attackers continue to misuse them to gain trusted status.

Just like the human immune system, Venafi learns and adapts as it works. Venafi identifies what keys and certificates are trusted and those that need to be replaced. It keeps keys and certificates secured to your policy and replaces them automatically. It scales keys and certificates up and down to meet demand. From stopping certificate-based outages to enabling SSL inspection, Venafi creates an ever-evolving, intelligent response that protects enterprise networks and brands.

Ultimately, if what our survey data says is true, and IT security professionals can’t secure and protect keys and certificates and respond more quickly to attacks that use them, online trust will continue to diminish with grave consequences, especially to the economy which relies heavily on online trust for commerce.

<![CDATA[Are Your Partners Creating a Hole in Your Security?]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/are-your-partners-creating-a-hole-in-your-security https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/are-your-partners-creating-a-hole-in-your-security/#When:12:30:00Z No matter how secure your environment, cybercriminals will bypass your security defenses, making how quickly you can detect the breach and respond to mitigate the damage a critical component of your enterprise’s cyberdefense. But there’s a challenge—it’s not only your security you need to be concerned about, but your business partners’ as well.

One method that is growing dramatically in popularity with cybercriminals is compromising a target’s business partners. Your business partners may not have security practices that are as good as your organization’s defenses. Cybercriminals use a compromised business partner as a backdoor into your organization via an already trusted channel like a VPN. The Target breach last year is a good example of this approach.

To compromise businesses, cybercriminals are increasingly using keys and certificates to elevate their privileges and hide activity. By the end of 2014, attacks using SSL comprised 12% of network-based attacks according to Intel Security, and Gartner estimates that 50% of network attacks will use SSL by 2017. Using SSL enables cybercriminals to cloak their activities. This helps support Mandiant’s findings that most organizations do not internally discover they’ve been compromised—nearly 70% of victims are notified by an external entity that they have been breached.

But how are cybercriminals compromising business partners and how can organizations quickly detect and remediate these breaches? To better understand cybercriminal attack methods, Venafi teamed up with Raxis, an independent penetration testing firm, to reconstruct a current real-world attack that targeted and compromised a Global 100 bank with techniques that can be used effectively to breach many organizations today.

hacker walking through the open door

The breach reconstruction provides full details on how a large hacking group used a stolen private key that was purchased on the underground as part of a multi-chained attack to ultimately steal millions of customer records. The white paper provides details about the thriving underground marketplace where you can buy almost anything needed to compromise networks. It also provides an explanation on how the attack was architected and executed as well as guidance on how the breach could have been quickly detected and mitigated.   

Read the full report here: Venafi.com/BankAPTAnalysis

For the last four years, Ponemon Institute has found that 100% of Global 5000 enterprises surveyed across 5 regions were impacted by attacks using keys and certificates. How does your organization detect and respond to attacks that use keys and certificates to elevate privileges and hide activity? How does your organization detect if a certificate is being used to misrepresent your brand on the internet?

<![CDATA[Heal Your Broken Online Trust with an Immune System]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/heal-your-broken-online-trust-with-an-immune-system https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/heal-your-broken-online-trust-with-an-immune-system/#When:20:00:00Z In 2014, Keren Elazari, an expert Cyber Security Researcher, started speaking to us via her TED talk about how hackers are like the internet’s immune system. She has led the way in this concept and explained how they help and hurt, yet ultimately lead to a healthier, stronger network.

Assisting our immune system like inoculations, hackers give us a taste of a potentially larger problem and help us overcome the illness before it becomes unmanageable.

Venafi recently released a product called Venafi TrustNet. It was released to help monitor and measure the healthiness of the internet, supporting encrypted traffic and authentication. Certificate misuse is at an all-time high. As we use more x.509 certificates to encrypt communications and authentication entities, bad guys will only become more interested.

We’ve blindly trusted certificates, because we’ve lacked an immune system for the cyber realm to know what’s trusted or not. Now Venafi provides a way through TrustNet to establish a baseline of normal certificate use online and alert affected organizations if that baseline is broken, indicating potential certificate misuse. TrustNet allows immediate remediation through blacklisting. Then, as part of the Venafi Trust Protection Platform, organizations can use TrustAuthority to replace and revoke untrusted certificates and TrustForce to automatically complete the certificate and key lifecycle.

If you own a certificate that is being misused, revoke it. If someone is misusing a certificate, blacklist it. Just like Keren Elazari has mentioned, hackers are like our immune system by demonstrating illness. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that allows us to rapidly detect what shouldn’t be trusted and respond quickly. Hackers have repeatedly demonstrated that we have to do something right now to fix trust online, which is near the breaking point.

What are your thoughts about the Immune System for the Internet?

<![CDATA[Automate Key and Certificate Management for Optimized Application Delivery]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/automate-key-and-certificate-management-for-optimized-application-delivery https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/automate-key-and-certificate-management-for-optimized-application-delivery/#When:21:33:00Z Businesses rely heavily upon SSL/TLS certificates to encrypt data and authenticate systems and applications – both inside and outside the corporate network. The use of keys and certificates will continue to grow as businesses need to ensure appropriate access across servers and applications. In fact, the Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report reveals that over the last two years, the number of keys and certificates deployed on network appliances, web servers, and cloud servers grew over 34% to an average of almost 24,000 per enterprise. This leaves enterprise IT environments challenged to secure and keep up with rising key and certificate deployments in the data center.

24,000 keys and certificates on average per company

To ensure successful management of keys and certificates, organizations must gain visibility into every SSL/TLS key and certificate present, including those on network infrastructure solutions such as Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs). When strategically deployed throughout the data center, ADCs enable applications to be highly available, accelerated, and secure. However, most ADCs need to be manually configured to discover thousands of certificates in the network. System administrators need to generate keys and request certificates, as well as oversee installation and configuration. And with so many other network devices like NGFWs, IDS/IPS systems, and servers requiring access to keys and certificates, this process is burdensome, error prone, and can cause certificates to expire which lead to network outages. Manual processes and the lack of a centralized key and certificate management system can limit operational efficiency and also leave gaps in security.

What do you need to do optimize your ADCs and reduce your SSL/TLS security risk?

A10 Networks and Venafi have partnered to create a joint solution with the A10 Thunder ADC line and Venafi Trust Protection Platform that helps organizations automate the management and security of the entire certificate lifecycle process. Here’s how the Venafi and A10 Networks joint solution can help:

  • Avoid Outages with Complete Visibility
    When digital certificates expire, it disrupts the very systems they were installed to protect. These expirations often occur from a lack of visibility and 54% of enterprises admit to being unaware of how many certificates they have in use, where they are used, and who is responsible for them. The certificate expirations create outages which lower productivity and cause a loss in revenue, profits, and customers.

    To avoid certificate expirations and outages, Venafi TrustAuthority detects and monitors all keys and certificates across enterprise networks, the cloud, and multiple CAs. Having complete visibility can also provide a baseline to flag anomalies, policy violations, and misuse.

  • Enforce Policies and Workflows
    Venafi TrustAuthority provides automated workflows for issuance, renewal, installation, and validation to enable rapid, secure deployment of SSL/TLS keys and certificates. These policies and workflows also enable distribution of keys and certificates to your A10 Thunder deployments across the data center.

  • Automate Management and Security
    Venafi TrustForce enables automation with full end-to-end certificate provisioning and lifecycle control for complex ADC and load-balanced encryption environments such as your A10 Thunder ADC deployments. This lifecycle automation for A10 devices includes provisioning processes such as key generation, certificate signing request (CSR) generation, CSR submission, certificate authority (CA) approval, issued certificate retrieval, certificate installation, private key backup, and certificate renewal.

Want to learn how to leverage Venafi and A10 Thunder ADC to simplify certificate management? Check out our joint technology partner solution brief. Or you can watch the A10 Networks and Venafi joint webinar to find out how to optimize your ADCs and reduce SSL/TLS security risk.

<![CDATA[$600 Million Dollar Question: Is Your Company’s IAM MIA?  ]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/600-million-dollar-question-is-your-companys-iam-mia https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/600-million-dollar-question-is-your-companys-iam-mia/#When:22:00:00Z Today, an increasing number of Identity and Access Management (IAM) strategies include the cryptographic keys and digital certificates for SSL/TLS, SSH, mobile WiFi, and VPN access that authenticate and authorize servers, devices, software, cloud, and privileged administrators and users.

This move to expand the enterprise security perimeter is laudatory because it closes the gap between the authentication and authorization established by keys and certificates and the protection provided for other credentials, such as usernames and passwords. But, without proper management and oversight, cryptographic keys and digital certificates could break that security perimeter wide open. For many companies, their IAM for keys and certificates may be missing in action (MIA).

Unlike passwords and user IDs, which are controlled with layers of automated monitoring policies, certificates and keys have been blindly trusted with inadequate, siloed processes. In many companies, there is no centralized visibility, policy enforcement, or incident tracking and remediation.

average enterprise has almost 24,000 keys and certificates according to Ponemon Institute

According to the 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report, published this year by the Ponemon Institute and Venafi, an average enterprise has almost 24,000 keys and certificates in circulation. But 54 percent of corporate security professionals surveyed in the report admitted that they have no idea where all of their keys and certificates are located. As a result, thousands of certificates go missing in action every year, a recipe for disaster. Those certificates establish trusted access to critical servers, applications, mobile devices and cloud instances at the highest level of privilege, creating a situation ripe for exploitation.

Ask yourself these questions:

Would your organization tolerate a security situation where 24,000 passwords and user IDs were floating around the company without any awareness, policies, or control? Probably not. But your organization may be doing just that when it comes to keys and certificates. Just like passwords and user IDs, policies and automated controls need to be applied to keys and certificates such as rotation, validity periods, ownership, timely provisioning, and revocation.  Instead, outdated approaches limit visibility and policy enforcement and increase the risk of misuse, exposing enterprises to compliance failures and costly data breaches.

So if you were an enterprise hacker, where would you focus your attack efforts? Cybercriminals have already answered this question for you. In the Ponemon research, security professionals estimated the total possible impact per organization for all attacks using keys and certificates to be almost $600 million and this is up 50% from 2013.

It’s time to apply the same diligence we devote to usernames and passwords to keys and certificates, by deploying enterprise-wide policies and automated controls. Try these best practices:

  • Protect
    • Create visibility by inventorying the certificates you have in use today and verifying their ownership
    • Establish enterprise-wide use policies
  • Detect
    • Monitor and detect for anomalies
    • Enforce policies and establish management control
  • Respond
    • Automate key and certificate issuance, renewal, and installation
    • Replace keys and certificates based on a regularly scheduled inventory and review process
    • Remediate by replacing keys and certificates in the event of a CA compromise or new vulnerability such as Heartbleed

The six steps should give you a good starting point, but there’s plenty more you can do. You can read the Venafi solution brief, Close the Gaps in Identity and Access Management, or drop me a line if you’d like to learn how.

<![CDATA[Data Protection Begins and Ends with Trusted Keys and Certificates]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/data-protection-begins-and-ends-with-trusted-keys-and-certificates https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/data-protection-begins-and-ends-with-trusted-keys-and-certificates/#When:18:50:00Z According to Gartner, encrypted traffic now comprises 15%-25% of total web traffic today. But for many businesses, it’s over 50%. The adoption of Transport Layer Security (TLS), and its predecessor Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), to protect web traffic has contributed to our exploding reliance on the Internet for personal use and commercial business.

Our dependence on SSL/TLS continues to rise. Growing concerns and regulations over data privacy as well as the surge in cyberattacks are increasing use of SSL/TLS to encrypt data transmission and authenticate web servers, application servers, load balancers, and other applications.

In addition, Google has called for “HTTPS Everywhere.” As part of this effort, Google is prioritizing search results for sites that provide this secure, encrypted connection. With HTTPS providing better search ranking, even marketing departments across all types of industries are promoting an increase in SSL/TLS use.

But this upsurge in SSL/TLS usage could also be leading to business downfall. Why? Because this growth has also increased the misuse of SSL/TLS keys and certificates, resulting in cyberattacks and network outages. The hard truth is that pervasive SSL/TLS use is only effective if the SSL/TLS keys and certificates themselves are securely managed and protected.

The 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report, published by the Ponemon Institute, analyzed the impact of attacks on digital trust. It reveals that today’s average enterprise holds almost 24,000 keys and certificates, but the real issue is 54% are unaware of how many keys and certificates they have in use, where they are used, and who owns them. As the use of SSL/TLS increases, this lack of visibility also causes an increase in certificate-related outages—disrupting the systems these certificates were meant to protect. These outages lower productivity and cause lost revenue, profits, and customers.

Here’s another startling fact from the Ponemon report: for four years running, 100 percent of the companies surveyed said they had responded to multiple attacks using keys and certificates. Gartner estimates that by 2017, 50% of cyberattacks will use SSL/TLS to sneak past enterprise security defenses. Unfortunately, many businesses have made it easy for the bad guys to use a company’s own defensive weapons, SSL/TLS keys and certificates, against it. The bad guys understand that organizations are struggling to enforce and automate policies and can’t keep track of what is trusted. If left unprotected, keys and certificates can be usurped by cybercriminals to evade detection and keep their activities cloaked.

Even with this evidence of increased outages and breaches, you can safely expand and rely on SSL/TLS to achieve data security and privacy—with the right key and certificate management and protection. Make it a priority to learn how to automate SSL/TLS key and certificate security and validation to ensure that your data and network resources stay safe. Here are a few steps you can take in the right direction:

  • Understand the data protection issues of increasing SSL/TLS usage 
  • Learn the necessary tasks to address SSL/TLS key and certificate challenges
  • Develop key and certificate management and security strategies that ensure trust in your SSL/TLS systems

You can learn more about safely using SSL/TLS on our data protection solution page, or drop me a comment if you’d like to learn more about SSL/TLS key and certificate management and security solutions.

<![CDATA[Are You Smarter than a Hacker? Show Off Your Knowledge on Trust-based Attacks]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/are-you-smarter-than-a-hacker-show-off-your-knowledge-on-trust-based-attack https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/are-you-smarter-than-a-hacker-show-off-your-knowledge-on-trust-based-attack/#When:20:15:00Z This is the 4th year running that Venafi has hosted a game show at the annual RSA Conference. Participants get a chance to show off their knowledge of today’s threatscape and the latest methods of protection.

It’s been such a huge success that the RSA Conference site highlights last year’s game show on this year’s Expo and Sponsors web page.

So what are we doing this year? We’re holding the game show, “Are You Smarter than a Hacker?”

Venafi at RSAC 2015 Booth S1615

This is 15 minutes of dynamic fun with short videos and a real-time quiz. The bad guys have figured out how to misuse keys and certificates to elevate their privileges and hide their activity. However, most organizations are not equipped to detect or respond to these types of attacks. Do you know how they do it? Test your knowledge for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card awarded at every session.

Venafi RSAC 2015 Game Show Winner 1 Venafi RSAC 2015 Game Show Winner 2

We are also showcasing our new certificate reputation service called Venafi TrustNet. Stop by the booth and see how TrustNet is able to stop TLS/SSL-based attacks in a live demonstration.

When is your next chance to win? Visit us at booth #S1615 or check out the RSAC 2015 Venafi Event Schedule for upcoming game show and TrustNet demonstration times.

<![CDATA[Is Your SSL/TLS Encryption Creating Security Blind Spots?]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/is-your-ssl-tls-encryption-creating-security-blind-spots https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/is-your-ssl-tls-encryption-creating-security-blind-spots/#When:19:40:00Z Businesses are increasing their use of SSL/TLS. This is being driven by the growth of cyberattacks as well as concerns and regulations over data privacy. Also, Google is prioritizing search results for sites using HTTPS, driving marketing teams across all types of businesses to support the expansion of encryption. While this increase in SSL/TLS provides privacy and authentication, it also creates a blind spot for enterprise security.

Gartner predicts 50% of network attacks will use SSL/TLS by 2017. Most organizations lack the ability to decrypt and inspect SSL traffic, which I highlighted in my earlier blog, Is Your SSL Traffic Hiding Attacks? This means your NGFW and threat detection won’t be able to see or protect against 50% of attacks. That’s a huge blind spot for enterprise security—and cybercriminals are taking advantage of this.

How does using SSL/TLS benefit the bad guys? Cybercriminals are using encryption against enterprises to conceal malware delivery, eavesdrop on communications, and exfiltrate data undetected—undermining layered security defenses. With the increase in SSL/TLS encryption, the ability to ensure every key and certificate is available for decryption, and then decrypt and inspect SSL/TLS traffic in real time, has become critical.

What do you need to do to eliminate this security blind spot? During the RSA Conference 2015, we’re spotlighting our partnership with Blue Coat. Together our solutions maximize decryption and uncover threats.

Blue Coat and Venafi

Here’s how the solutions work together in a nutshell:

  • Venafi TrustForce automates key and certificate provisioning and replacement
  • Venafi TrustForce automatically adds keys and certificates to the secure key store within Blue Coat SSL Visibility Appliance
  • Blue Coat SSL Visibility Appliance uses the keys and certificates for policy-enforced SSL traffic inspection
  • Venafi TrustForce ensures keys and certificates have strong authentication, are rotated regularly, and are replaced quickly in the event of a compromise

Having access to all keys and certificates for decryption means one less place for the bad guys to hide, infiltrate your network, and steal data. . With Venafi, businesses maximize the amount of inbound encrypted traffic that can be decrypted and inspected by Blue Coat SSL Visibility Appliance and eliminate blind spots that are hiding in encrypted traffic.

Want to learn more about the protection this partnership provides? See our RSAC 2015 event schedule for upcoming times for the demonstration, Venafi / Blue Coat Remove SSL Blind Spots, at this year’s RSA Conference or read the technology partnership solution brief as part of the Venafi conference collateral at Venafi.com/RSAC2015.

<![CDATA[Introducing the Immune System for the Internet]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/introducing-the-immune-system-for-the-internet https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/introducing-the-immune-system-for-the-internet/#When:18:15:00Z We humans have evolved a highly effective immune system. It’s always working to establish what is “self” and trusted and what is not and dangerous. We need the same protection for the cyber realm. But we haven’t had an effective immune system to defend against a new generation of cyberattacks—until now. At RSA Conference 2015, Venafi introduces the Immune System for the Internet.

Humans have one…

The human body evolved to survive in a world of threats. Inside of all of us is an identification system where HLA tags are attached to every cell. They are unique to each person. Our immune system uses these tags to identify what is self and what isn’t, what to trust and what to destroy. It learns to adapt in a world of ever-changing, complex threats.

But the Cyber Realm doesn’t…

The Internet was engineered with an identification system too: cryptographic keys and digital certificates. Just like HLA tags, these uniquely identify webservers, software, mobile devices, apps, admins, and even airplanes. But keys and certificates are blindly trust. So bad guys use them to hide in encrypted traffic, spoof websites, deploy malware, and steal data.

Venafi: The Immune System for the Internet

Just like your immune system, Venafi learns and adapts as it works. Venafi identifies what keys and certificates are trusted and those that need to be replaced. It keeps keys and certificates secured to your policy and replaces them automatically. It scales keys and certificates up and down to meet demand. From stopping certificate-based outages to enabling SSL inspection, Venafi creates an ever-evolving, intelligent response that protects your network, your business, and your brand.



To learn more about the Immune System for the Internet, visit us at Venafi.com/RSAC2015 for the Venafi conference event schedule and conference collateral.

<![CDATA[Still Bleeding One Year Later—Heartbleed 2015 Research]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/still-bleeding-one-year-laterheartbleed-2015-research https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/still-bleeding-one-year-laterheartbleed-2015-research/#When:10:00:00Z Early last year the BBC dubbed 2014 to be the year of encryption. How right they were—not only for the increased use of encryption, but also for the 2014 threats that leveraged cryptographic keys and digital certificates in their attacks. Encryption and keys and certificates were hurdled to the forefront of the media on multiple occasions. To name a few, Heartbleed, Cupid, Open SSL CSS, Shellshock, and POODLE, impacted the entire world. Very quickly cybercriminals mobilized themselves to take advantage of these exploits based on vulnerabilities that many were not remediating.

At Venafi, we reviewed how well organizations have remediated Heartbleed since it was first discovered. The research focused on the largest global organizations in the world (Global 2000), and the results are not very comforting. In last year’s Venafi Labs report, a staggering 76% of Global 2000 organizations with public-facing, Heartbleed-vulnerable systems were still vulnerable. We would have expected to see a significant improvement this year. Unfortunately that’s not the case. There is only a 2% improvement in the number of Global 2000 organizations that have remediated Heartbleed.


  2014 2015
Vulnerable Incomplete Remediation 76% 74%
Remediation Complete 24% 26%


In last year’s Venafi Q3 Heartbleed Threat Research Analysis we found that 97% of Global 2000 public-facing servers previously susceptible to Heartbleed had still not been fully remediated. The University of Maryland performed similar analysis in November 2014 and found that 87% of the susceptible servers had still not been fully remediated. Now a year after Heartbleed’s public disclosure, 85% of Global 2000 public-facing servers still remain vulnerable. Even though that’s a 16% improvement over 2014, it is still very poor performance, leaving the door open to cybercriminals.

The surprising part from the research findings this year is that the Heartbleed remediation steps that were taken weren’t actually driven by Heartbleed remediation efforts—this was just a secondary benefit. Instead, they were the result of impending certificate expirations. An astounding 65,000 certificates were re-issued with new private keys simply because of impending expirations. Although it is a good practice to keep short key and certificate rotation cycles, organizations should be replacing all keys and certificates to remediate Heartbleed. Industry experts from Bruce Schneier to Gartner’s Erik Heidt made it clear that to fully contain and remediate Heartbleed, SSL keys and certificates needed to be replaced.

Why so many are still susceptible to Heartbleed

It would seem based on the trend of replacing keys only for impending certificate expirations that organizations have either given up on trying to fully remediate this massive vulnerability or simply don’t grasp the gravity of the situation. I believe that there are two additional reasons for such poor Heartbleed remediation. As described by Gartner, “lazy” remediation—when organizations fail to replace the private key or fail to revoke the old certificate—shows that organizations do not understand that once the private key is exposed, everything is exposed. Another probable reason for the lack of Heartbleed remediation is that organizations simply don’t see the impact yet. According to Ponemon Institute, 100% of organizations have responded to an attack that misuses keys and certificates in the last 2 years. And an alarming 54% of them are unaware of where all of their keys and certificates are located. Not only are attacks which leverage keys and certificates increasing, their impact is as well. The organizations surveyed by Ponemon Institute estimated the risk of an attack using keys and certificates at $53 million over the next two years—this considerable risk should be a wakeup call for all organizations.

Remediating Heartbleed

Remediating Heartbleed goes beyond simply patching the OpenSSL vulnerability. Just like user IDs and passwords are assumed compromised after a breach, so too should keys and certificates.    

To remediate Heartbleed 4 steps are required:

  1. Patch the OpenSSL vulnerability
  2. Generate new keys
  3. Issue and install new certificates
  4. Revoke old certificates
It’s only the beginning

Using kill chain analysis we see exactly how keys and certificates are used throughout an attack. Since last year, there has been a significant increase in hijacked VPNs used to maintain access to victim’s environments. Intel Security noted a 12% increase in SSL-based network attacks—up from 0% in 2013. And Gartner estimates, by 2017 that 50% of network-based attacks will use SSL/TLS.

If organizations do not secure their keys and certificates and enable fast rotation when breached, we could be heading towards a cryptoapocalypse. This phrase was coined by researchers in their Black Hat 2013 presentation and is a scenario where the standard algorithms of trust like RSA and SHA are compromised and exploited, allowing bad guys to spoof or surveil all Internet communications. 

What is your organization’s response plan to handle potentially compromised keys and certificates when breached? Does your organization treat keys and certificates like user ID passwords and replace them when a breach is suspected? I would love to hear from you.

The full analysis on our 2015 Heartbleed research can be found here.

<![CDATA[4 Common Tactics Used in Recent Healthcare Breaches]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/4-common-tactics-used-in-recent-healthcare-breaches https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/4-common-tactics-used-in-recent-healthcare-breaches/#When:12:15:00Z Last month, Anthem reported that they had been breached, affecting more than 80 million customers’ personal information. This month, Premera Blue Cross disclosed they too have been breached, resulting in medical and financial data for 11 million customers being stolen. Both organizations discovered the breach in January of this year.

4 common tactics used in recent healthcare breaches

Besides the fact that all these breaches were in the healthcare industry, there are similarities in the tactics employed. We can learn from these tactics to protect organizations, not only in healthcare, but from all industries.

Blind Spot

It’s believed that attackers in the mentioned breaches gained a foothold within the enterprise networks at around the same time (April-May 2014). Even though Anthem and Premera were said to have been breached around the same time that Heartbleed was discovered there is no confirmation that Heartbleed was used. However, if the attackers that breached Anthem and Premera gained access to private keys stolen via Heartbleed, they would have assuredly used them to perform man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks on VPN’s. According to Mandiant, last year VPN hijacking was the highest they have ever seen. It’s no surprise that it took Anthem and Premera 8-9 months before identifying the breach. Most organizations are blind to attackers on their networks who misuse keys and certificates, enabling these attackers to establish encrypted sessions that disguise malicious traffic phoning home to the command and control (C2). Research published by the Ponemon Institute shows that for the last 2 years, and now for 4 years running, 100% of large enterprises have had to respond to attacks using keys and certificates.

Spoofed Websites

Phishing attacks are the most common attack methods used today. Why, you ask? Quite simply because there is always a human that can be easily tricked into disclosing information. One very common technique seen in both the Anthem and Premera breaches is known as URL hijacking and it involves registering a domain with specific typographical errors to misrepresent the original domain. The purpose of this technique is to make the domain look like, or spoof, the well-known, legitimate business and use it in attacks like spear-phishing campaigns. Domains like we11point[.]com and prennera[.]com were both used as parts of these attacks for spear-phishing and malware hosting. It is challenging to identify this type of brand misrepresentation without scanning the entire internet on a periodic basis. In fact, only 30% of victims discover the breach themselves—most are notified by external third parties.

Digitally-signed Malware

According to Intel Security, digitally-signed malware has been doubling every quarter since 2012 and shows no sign of slowing down. The primary driver to sign malicious code with a valid certificate is to avoid detection from security solutions and ensure the victim does not receive any error messages from the operating system. In the Anthem breach, the malware signed with a legitimate certificate was found to be hosted on the site prennera[.]com.

One Common Attack Vector

In all three breaches, there is one common attack vector—keys and certificates. Although keys and certificates are designed to create trust and assurance, when they are used against you, it becomes very difficult to know what can and cannot be trusted. To do this, we need to be able to understand the reputation of the mechanism that is being used to establish the trust—the certificate. By understanding the reputation of the certificate, we can decide whether or not to trust the session or application using the certificate. One example would be scanning the internet for certificates that are used to misrepresent a brand like the we11point[.]com and prennera[.]com examples.

Scanning the entire internet on a regular basis to identify spoofed websites or even rogue certificates is no small undertaking. Even Microsoft took multiple years to recover rogue TLS certificates and revoke them. But revocation lists have been proven to be easily defeated since 2009. Even new initiatives like Google Certificate Transparency still rely on certificate revocation.

Venafi helps solve this problem with the introduction of Venafi TrustNet—a global certificate reputation service designed to detect the misuse of certificates on the internet and enable you to take immediate action by blacklisting certificates with a bad reputation. TrustNet is the single most comprehensive and accurate source of certificate trustworthiness. Regardless of where a certificate is used on the Internet, TrustNet provides you with its reputation in real time. With TrustNet, you can stop the bad guys from misusing certificates and keys and protect your business and brand. Find out more about TrustNet at Venafi.com/TrustNet.

Venafi TrustNet

How does your organization detect the misuse of certificates on the internet that are used to misrepresent your companies’ brand?

<![CDATA[Well-Designed RFP Crucial for Enterprise Key and Certificate Management]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/well-designed-rfp-crucial-for-enterprise-key-and-certificate-management https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/well-designed-rfp-crucial-for-enterprise-key-and-certificate-management/#When:17:46:00Z So, you’ve decided to select a vendor solution for your enterprise key and certificate management. You’ve made a wise decision—manual tracking methods or limited internal scripts cannot effectively manage and secure the number of keys and certificates in an average enterprise. But to get the most of your investment dollars and ensure that the vendor solution you choose will meet your needs now and in the future, you need to create a clear and comprehensive request for proposal (RFP).

An RFP is a formal statement of your requirements and is worth every effort you put into it. In many cases, companies view RFPs as a burden. But when projects fail, they often do so due to inadequately defined requirements that lead to the purchase of the wrong solution for what the company needs.

The clearer and more comprehensive your RFP, the greater your chances of getting vendor responses that lead to a successful outcome. The exercise of writing the RFP forces you and your team to work through the tradeoffs between cost, convenience, flexibility, security, scalability, compliance, and ease of use. To create an effective RFP, I recommend these 3 steps:

  1. Ask your end users for input. All too often, the people who actually use the system have no say in the system design. Instead, IT develops a system based how they think things should work. Not only are important issues missed as a result, but it is harder to gain user acceptance down the road. Your users may have some excellent suggestions, such as:
    1. Can the issuance and renewal process be automated?
    2. Is there a web-based, self-service portal for certificate requests and renewals?
    3. Can certificate ownership be assigned by an individual or group to assist with renewals?
  2. Involve members of your company’s compliance or legal department. With the myriad of overlapping industry and government regulations out there, it pays to have a compliance expert on the RFP team. For example, he or she may ask you to consider the following:
    1. What is the process for quickly identifying the misuse of keys and certificates?
    2. What is the process for enforcing policies and workflows for security and compliance?
    3. How does the solution prevent certificate-based outages?
    4. Is there an automated key and certificate replacement process for fast remediation if there is a CA compromise or vulnerability like Heartbleed?
  3. Finally, involve the primary project manager. Make sure the person responsible for managing the RFP and the point of contact for the vendor is part of the RFP team. He or she has a vested interest in making sure that ongoing management is efficient and easy for users to adopt and may ask you to include the following:
    1. How does the solution help you gain control of your key and certificate environment with visibility and fast remediation?
    2. What is the process for compiling a complete inventory and central management of keys and certificates?
    3. What is the validation process for proper installation and configuration?
    4. Is there flexible criteria for certificate management, such as lifetime, authorized CA, and so on?
    5. Is there a robust policy framework for controlling workflow processes as well as for controlling attributes such as key lengths, validity periods, and cryptographic hash types?
  4. Once your team has created a comprehensive set of RFP requirements, you’re armed and ready to approach leading vendors. Perhaps you’ve already done some basic market research during the RFP creation process, but now it’s time to get serious. For additional input, I recommend the KuppingerCole report, Leadership Compass: Enterprise Key and Certificate Management.

    Enterprise Key and Certificate Management

    Has your company drafted a successful RFP for a key and certificate management and security project? Were their particular requirements that you included in your RFP that would help others with their project planning? Let me know what worked for you.

    ]]> 2015-03-19T17:46:00+00:00 <![CDATA[Clinton Email Server Only One Example of Convenience Over Security]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/clinton-email-server-only-one-example-of-convenience-over-security https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/clinton-email-server-only-one-example-of-convenience-over-security/#When:19:18:00Z Earlier this week, I shared my thoughts on why CISOs need a seat at the table with the Board of Directors. Equally important, CISOs need to be able to set security policies and guidelines that are followed by all employees, including executives. Often employees will use personal phones, computers, and email accounts to conduct business—ignoring company security policies and protocols, and often at the risk of compromised data.

    These security policy violations are frequently conducted in the interest of convenience with the belief that the increase in productivity outweighs the risk. Another motivator is privacy. Some executives use personal email accounts to keep certain communications “private” from the broader company. This tendency is mentioned in a recent Wall Street Journal article (requires subscription to view). However, using these methods often violate both internal and regulatory governance standards.   Many companies, especially if they are in litigation, require a legal hold of all of their executive email (regardless of the company email retention policy).

    Often those that are violating the policies do not understand the full extent of the risks they are taking especially because personal accounts are typically more susceptible to hackers and can result in legal consequences.

    The recent discussions around the use and configuration of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server help to highlight how convenience and privacy are often pursued in lieu of security in both our enterprises and governments. While Clinton was in office as the Secretary of State, she used her personal email account to conduct all State business. In a press conference on March 10, Clinton said she used her personal email account for convenience—she wanted to carry just one device for both her work and personal emails (by the way, I carry two devices!).

    On Wednesday, March 11, Venafi announced and released its TrustNet certificate reputation service and by using TrustNet, we were able to evidence that there was a 3-month gap before encryption was enabled on Clinton’s email server.  In January 2009, eight days before Secretary Clinton was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the domain, clintonemail.com, was registered. Then 3 months later, in March 2009, mail.clintonemail.com was enabled with a Network Solutions’ digital certificate and encryption for web-based applications. Although we do not know if it was compromised during this 3-month gap, Secretary Clinton stated in her recent press conference, that her email account had never been compromised. But honestly, she can’t know that!


    During the 3 months without a digital certificate, access to the server was not encrypted or authenticated. Throughout that time, the account would have been easy to compromise, allowing others to eavesdrop on both incoming and outgoing communications. It could also have been spoofed, using the account for phishing or to send malware.  Another concern is that credentials could have been compromised during this time, especially given her travel to China and elsewhere. This could open the door, as we've seen with so many other breaches, to long term, under-the-radar compromise by adversaries. This is an example of how the person taking the risk didn’t know the full ramifications of his or her actions and policy was not enforced.

    Organizations need to partner and rely on their security professionals, and ultimately their CISOs, to set security policies that consider the risk to the company.  Noting however, it is imperative for the CISO to partner with the business and compliance teams to ensure that what policies are set forth in turn address the necessity of those controls. 

    We all know that in some cases policies/guidelines must be flexible to enable business, but we always must assess the acceptable risk to the company.  It is important, however, that the business as well as your company as a whole understand and accept the risk through a formal Risk Acceptance process. This process must be documented, including mitigating controls, and kept current through formal documented security reviews with the business.

    Although the CISO is charged with balancing security with privacy, productivity and flexibility, as well as industry and governmental compliance regulations, when creating communication policies, they cannot be created in a vacuum.  They should be a done in a collaborative nature to ensure business enablement while still ensuring the least amount of acceptable risk as possible. Therefore, when these policies are designed to support the overall business using a comprehensive risk analysis, all employees should be informed of these policies at least annually through formal security awareness training and then abide by these policies to keep their organizations safe.

    Again, I hope my comments spark a discussion. Has your organization’s CISO provided clear security policies for business communications that include the use of personal phones, laptops, and email accounts? What about the use of social media? Do you feel these policies support productivity? Do they address risk? Do your employees adhere to these policies?   Let’s hear your thoughts….

    As always, I am interested in hearing from you!!!

    <![CDATA[Infographic: Trust Online is at the Breaking Point]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/infographic-ponemon-research-finds-trust-online-is-at-the-breaking-point https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/infographic-ponemon-research-finds-trust-online-is-at-the-breaking-point/#When:13:00:00Z Can cryptographic keys and digital certificates still be trusted?

    Today, the Ponemon Institute and Venafi released the 2015 Cost of Failed Trust Report, the first update to the 2013 study and the only global research to analyze the impact of attacks on the system of Internet trust established by cryptographic keys and digital certificates. You can download your copy of the report and see the research highlights in the Infographic included below.

    What many may find surprising is that for the fourth consecutive year, every organization that participated in the survey – 100 percent of more than 2,300 IT security professionals from the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia, France, and Germany – reported that they had responded to multiple attacks on keys and certificates in the past two years.

    The report’s findings show that IT security professionals believe we’re at a breaking point: more than half of the respondents reported that the technology behind the trust online that their business requires to operate is in jeopardy.

    Online Trust is at the Breaking Point Infographic

    These concerns about trust online are hardly surprising given that some of the largest and most dangerous breaches to date – Heartbleed, Community Health Systems, Dark Hotel, and more – have involved the keys and certificates that are required to establish trust. In just the last months we’ve seen multiple abuses of keys and certificates via the Lenovo/Superfish certificate authority debacle and the FREAK vulnerability – and those incidents hadn’t even been reported yet when this research was completed in January 2015. No doubt the sense of urgency for regaining trust is now greater than ever before. And with stolen certificates now fetching almost $1,000 on the black market, CISOs and other IT professionals can be assured that this problem will only continue to grow.

    Learn how Venafi helps organizations regain trust and stay protected at venafi.com. For help today, please contact us.

    <![CDATA[Digital Certificate Forensics: What Venafi TrustNet Tells Us about the Clinton Email Server]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/what-venafi-trustnet-tells-us-about-the-clinton-email-server https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/what-venafi-trustnet-tells-us-about-the-clinton-email-server/#When:13:00:00Z 3-month gap before encryption enabled for browsers, smartphones, and tablets starting in 2009

    Venafi TrustNet is the world’s first enterprise certificate reputation service. TrustNet can identify certificate misuse, perform forensic analysis, and predict vulnerabilities that need to be fixed to protect the Global 5000 and governments. To achieve this, TrustNet has acquired, maintains, and is continuously adding to the world’s largest database of digital certificates and associated metadata. TrustNet is able to go back in time and identify how digital certificates were used in the past, providing a new type of forensics capability to the IT security community.

    Digital certificates and their corresponding cryptographic keys are incredibly powerful. They solved the biggest barriers to using the Internet: how do I know that a website is what it says it is and that communications with the site are private?  But this is also why certificates are so interesting to bad guys for misuse. It’s also why cybersecurity experts, like Intel, predict stolen certificates will be the next big hacker marketplace. With this increasing misuse by attackers, how do we keep certificates safe? Venafi protects the trust established by keys and certificates for the Global 5000 and governments.

    Digital certificate analysis for clintonemail.com

    In the past week, there have been questions about the level of security, use, and configuration of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server. Specifically, there have been concerns that the server may have been vulnerable to eavesdropping and compromise. TrustNet found that at least 3 digital certificates were used with clintonemail.com since 2009. Operators of clintonemail.com obtained these certificates so the site could be uniquely distinguished (another clintonemail.com would not show as being secured without the certificate) and the site would use strong encryption to keep data transmissions private. These certificates were obtained validly and enabled web-based encryption for applications. Based on TrustNet analyst, Venafi can conclude clintonemail.com was enabled for browser, smartphone, and tablet encryption since 2009 and can operate using encryption through at least 2018. However, for the first 3 months of Secretary Clinton’s term, access to the server was not encrypted or authenticated with a digital certificate. During this time, Secretary Clinton travelled to China, Egypt, Israel, South Korea and other locations outside of the U.S.

    Note: All data in this report was obtained by non-intrusive Internet scanning routinely performed throughout the IT security community to protect the safety and health of the Internet.

    Digital Certificate Forensics for clintonemail.com

    Venafi TrustNet Analysis
    January – March 2009
    No certificates found –
    no encryption enabled
    March 2009
    Issued by: Network Solutions
    Valid to: September 2013
    Download certificate file
    February 2012
    Issued by: Network Solutions
    Valid to: February 2013
    Download certificate file
    September 2013
    Issued by: GoDaddy
    Valid to: September 2018
    Download certificate file



    First clintonemail.com digital certificate obtained in 2009 from Network Solutions

    First clintonemail.com digital certificate obtained in 2009 from Network Solutions


    Starting in late March 2009, mail.clintonemail.com was enabled with a Network Solutions’ digital certificate and encryption for web-based applications like Outlook Web Access. This was 3 months after Secretary Clinton took office. The clintonemail.com domain was registered with Network Solutions in January 2009 – 8 days before Secretary Clinton was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Therefore, from January to end of March 2009 access to clintonemail.com did not use encryption.

    Once the digital certificate was installed in March 2009,  all access with a desktop web browser, smartphone, or table was encrypted, even on government networks designed to inspect traffic. However, this doesn’t mean that email sent to/from the account would be encrypted – just accessing the server.


    Replacement clintonemail.com digital certificate obtained in 2013 from GoDaddy

    Replacement clintonemail.com digital certificate obtained in 2013 from GoDaddy


    The first certificate obtained for clintonemail.com was set to expire on 15 September 2013. It was replaced a few days before this expiration with a new certificate from GoDaddy set to expire in 2018. This is the certificate that remains running on the server in March 2015. Microsoft Outlook Web Access and Microsoft IIS were confirmed by Venafi to be running on the server. At the time of inspection, communications between the server and applications were being authenticated and encrypted.


    Certificate for SSL VPN service run from clintonemail.com that was issued in February 2012

    Certificate for SSL VPN service run from clintonemail.com that was issued in February 2012


    As reported elsewhere, the server also appears to have run an SSL VPN – an authenticated and encrypted tunnel through which other web pages on other servers could be accessed. TrustNet found the sslvpn.clintonemail.com certificate. It was issued in 2012 and expired in 2013. Venafi could not confirm the continued operation of an SSL VPN or the sites to which it may have gated access.

    Security Implications

    Online banking, shopping, and confidential government communications wouldn’t be possible without the trust established by digital certificates. Hundreds of billions of dollars in trade around the world also depends on it, as does the future of secure communications and computing. From airplanes to cars to our smartphones, all of these technologies are dependent on the trust digital certificates and their associated cryptographic keys provide. And, they are being used more and more every day. It’s also why bad guys are ferociously going after them. Threat research from FireEye, Intel, Kaspersky, and Mandiant consistently identifies the misuse of keys and certificates as an important part of APT and cybercriminal operations. And Gartner expects by 2017 that 50% of network attacks will be using SSL/TLS.

    Clintonemail.com operated for 3 months without a digital certificate. This means that during the first 3 months of Secretary Clinton’s term in office, web browser, smartphone, and tablet communications would not have been encrypted. Attackers could have eavesdropped on communications. As well, the server would not have been uniquely identified as being clintonemail.com and therefore could have been spoofed – allowing attackers to more easily trick an unsuspecting user of the site to hand over their username and password or other sensitive information.

    Obtaining the cryptographic key and digital certificate for clintonemail.com would be an important step for attackers seeking to compromise Secretary of State Clinton or others that might access the server.  With them, bad guys could masquerade as the legitimate site or decrypt what was thought to be private communications. As a standalone Microsoft Windows Server, the site is very vulnerable. In 2013, over 800 trojans were known to steal keys and certificates – and that number has swelled since then.  The use of digital certificates on clintonemail.com provides users with the confidence that they are connecting to the real site and communications cannot be inspected. But when on government networks, anyone accessing the site and depending on the certificate needs to be highly suspicious. The site has received tremendous attention and its contents and certificate are likely targets for compromise and misuse. 

    Venafi will continue to observe this situation and provide updates if new information becomes available. Venafi TrustNet operates 24x7 to secure and protect Venafi customers, is constantly monitoring the status of certificates around the world, and provides real-time updates to subscribers. Organizations interested in learning how TrustNet can help can contact Venafi for more information.

    I want to offer a special thank you to Hari Nair, Gavin Hill, and the Venafi TrustNet product team who contributed to this research and analysis.

    <![CDATA[Global Certificate Reputation to Protect Your Business and Brand]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/global-certificate-reputation-to-protect-your-business-and-brand https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/global-certificate-reputation-to-protect-your-business-and-brand/#When:13:00:00Z Imagine for a minute what would happen if you could not trust any transaction on the Internet. Not too long ago you would not have ever considered buying something online—simply because there were no guarantees of privacy or security on the internet. The popular cartoon published by the New Yorker in 1993 shows a dog surfing the internet with the caption, “on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” That all changed with the use of digital certificates to help drive trust on the internet. With digital certificates one is able to ensure digital transactions are both confidential and unaltered.

    Fast forward to today where the average American adult spends 11 hours per day with electronic media, and it becomes critical to be able to establish confidentially and integrity of Internet data at all times. Keys and certificates are intertwined into our everyday lives so much so that taking advantage of the trust established by them is the perfect attack vector. Unfortunately this is exactly what has happened!

    Cybercriminals understand that by taking advantage of a trust mechanism like keys and certificates, it once again becomes very difficult to identify with whom you are exchanging information—all of a sudden we are back in 1993. In the last 6 months, we’ve seen large organizations like Sony and Anthem fall victim to breach through the misuse of keys and certificates. Keys and certificates are quickly becoming the preferred attack vectors for cybercriminals, and the problem is so large that Gartner predicts by 2017, 50% of network attacks will use SSL due to the trusted channel it provides. Moreover, it’s not only cybercriminals that misuse certificates, corporations like Lenovo and GoGo both used certificates to perform man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks to inject adds or manipulate traffic.

    Combating Certificate Misuse with Certificate Reputation

    Like reputation services for URLs, email, and files, certificate reputation was born out of necessity to help enterprises detect new threats. Cybercriminals are increasingly misusing digital certificates in malicious campaigns and going undetected for extended periods of time.

    Phishing is one of the most common practices used to steal credentials and banking information. To support this, cybercriminals use fraudulent or stolen certificates. The challenge is that there are over 1.2 billion websites online right now. How would your organization scan the internet to identify the misuse of certificates to spoof your organization’s brand? Certificate reputation is designed to determine whether or not a digital certificate can or cannot be trusted.

    Venafi Trust Protection Platform now includes Venafi TrustNet

    Venafi is proud to announce our new Venafi TrustNet certificate reputation service that is available with the launch of Venafi Trust Protection Platform, version 15.1. TrustNet is a global authoritative key and certificate reputation service that identifies rogue or anomalous key and certificate usage. TrustNet offers the most comprehensive collection of key and certificate intelligence.

    TrustNet employs a global sensor network to identify certificate misuse on the internet. There are no limitations to specific browsers or operating systems. Subscribers to the service can take advantage of the native integration with Venafi products to provide alerts on any anomalous certificate behavior identified for certificates issued by the enterprise that are forged or misused on the internet. For security vendors that want to take advantage of the reputation feed integrated into security gateways, a public API is provided for integration with any application.

    Once a certificate anomaly has been identified, it is imperative to take immediate action. TrustNet provides global whitelisting for trusted CAs and certificates, and blacklisting for untrusted ones.

    Using TrustNet, enterprises can more easily mitigate new and emerging threats:

    • Detect certificate misuse globally
    • Increase threat detection rates
    • Accelerate incident response time
    • Protect brand reputation

    To learn more about Venafi TrustNet, you can read the datasheet here: Venafi.com/TrustNetDS

    <![CDATA[CISO’s Need a Seat at the Table]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/cisos-need-a-seat-at-the-table https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/cisos-need-a-seat-at-the-table/#When:19:56:00Z Cyber breach headlines are on the increase and underscore the need for security awareness at the very highest levels of an organization. In 2014 alone, hundreds of millions of records were stolen and tens of millions of dollars were spent on investigations, fines and lawsuits. I was wondering... in how many cases did the CISO have access to the Board of Directors? It is without a doubt, so important to ensure awareness; Chief Information Security Officers (CISO’s) need to be an active and engaged part of board of director meetings. In addition, Board members should not only know their CISO’s views on cyber security, they should have his or her cell phone number on speed dial.

    It wasn’t long ago that corporate security meant blocking and tackling to prevent viruses from getting on your systems and making sure that nefarious people did not gain access to internal networks. But as we all know as executive leaders, the environment is ever changing and the attack vectors are many. Today’s CISOs grapple with a much wider, deeper, and more complex set of responsibilities—going beyond just keeping the bad guys out and deploying security that also enables the business. It is vital that board members understand the importance of cyber security and its potentially catastrophic impact on their organization’s brand, reputation, bottom line, and stock price when not implemented effectively. To make that happen, we as CISOs need to better promote our role and educate board members that cyber security is a high priority and should be a top concern. It now influences every aspect of the business.

    executive board

    To sell the value of our contribution to the company to board members, CISOs must be able not only to market their role more strategically—but they must act more strategically. The new generation of security officers must possess strong business acumen and have the ability to think long term and not be afraid to wear many hats. They need to know how the company operates, its top business goals, and its appetite for risk when developing and implementing a security framework. They must also communicate their knowledge in business-benefit terms that resonate with a wider range of audiences. They must be able to enable the business while ensuring that risks are mitigated, acceptable risks are completely understood and must have strong controls to support them. The protection of their data is vital to business operations.

    The CISO of today must also be extremely collaborative, with good listening and communication skills, because the heightened visibility of this critical executive role brings with it the responsibility of ensuring that cyber security becomes top of mind across the entire organization, from the boardroom to departmental employees. A seasoned security leader with a strategic business perspective should be comfortable developing and communicating a security vision and positioning the needed resources and talent to translate that vision into a reality.

    At the same time, board members should see the value of having the CISO in board meetings. Board members need to learn why it is vital to keep abreast of the cyber security landscape and its impact on corporate initiatives such as mobility, social media usage, and global expansion. They should discuss with their CISO the need for an effective crisis management program and know what their role is if there is a security incident. In fact, because of the critical nature of cyber security today, qualified CISOs should also be encouraged to join the boards of other companies as well.

    Of course there is so much more I would like to say in this blog—but then it will become a short story...

    I hope my comments spark a discussion. What role does the CISO play in your organization? Does he or she regularly address your board of directors on the importance of compliance and security directives? What changes would you like to see to better align security with the business of your company?

    As always, I am interested in hearing from you!!!



    <![CDATA[Infographic: How an Attack by a Cyber-espionage Operator Bypassed Security Controls]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/infographic-cyber-espionage-operator-bypassed-security-controls https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/infographic-cyber-espionage-operator-bypassed-security-controls/#When:22:00:00Z Chinese cyber-espionage operator, APT 18, has proven it can breach enterprises by undermining critical security controls when enterprises fail to protect digital certificates and cryptographic keys. As reported by Time, Bloomberg, and others, APT 18 used keys and certificates to compromise a Fortune 200 American health services organization and stole data on 4.5 million patients.

    RaxisRaxis, an independent penetration testing firm, reconstructed the APT 18 attack in a simulated enterprise environment. Raxis demonstrated how the bad guys were able to bypass security controls like threat detection, data protection, firewalls, VPNs, DLP, privileged access, and authentication systems that enterprises expect will mitigate threats.

    Why did Chinese cybercriminals want to breach an American health services company? Perhaps they were hoping to resell personal data or learn how to operate distributed hospital systems for profit. More likely, this was a test—a proof-of-concept attack that was vastly successful in stealing data by undermining the security controls of this Fortune 200 business. Having now proven the attack vector, APT 18 will decide when and where to use the attack on other targets.

    How did they do it? This exclusive new infographic highlights the 4 attack stages used by many threats that rely on compromised keys and certificates to bypass existing enterprise security controls. Learn these stages and find out how to ensure your enterprise is not the next headline.

    Want to learn more about the Raxis reconstruction of the APT 18 attack with a detailed look at how they bypassed security controls? Watch the on-demand webinar, Keys to the Kingdom.

    undermining security infographic

    <![CDATA[The Need for Certificate Transparency]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-need-for-certificate-transparency https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/the-need-for-certificate-transparency/#When:13:53:00Z An inherent weakness in the Internet’s Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is the ‘equivalency of trust’ that is placed on trusted Certificate Authorities (CA)s. Any CA that is trusted by a browser, operating system, or application-specific trust store can issue a certificate for any domain. As a result, in the event of CA compromise, it is possible for a CA to issue counterfeit certificates for any domain without the knowledge and approval of HTTPS site operators.

    Technical controls to detect and possibly prevent this scenario have been proposed by extensions to DNS, such as Certificate Authority Authorization (CAA) and DNS-based Authentication of Named Entities (DANE). However, these controls require all DNS clients to be updated in order to support the new extensions, making deployment in the short term infeasible.

    Google Certificate Transparency

    In 2013, Google started an industry-wide initiative to address this issue, called Certificate Transparency or CT. With CT, public logs will be used to record issuance of publicly-trusted EV (Extended Validation) certificates. These logs can then be monitored by site operators to look for rogue instances of their domains. If duplicate certificates for the same domain are discovered by site operators in the logs, the site operator can take action to resolve the issue.

    As part of the CT design, Google anticipates that one or more organizations would act as CT log monitors. These log monitors would periodically search through CT logs to detect possible mis-issuance events.

    As a market leader in Next Generation Trust Protection, Venafi recognizes the value of the CT initiative as another important step to ensure online trust for certificates issued. Therefore, Venafi will be launching a public CT log that will satisfy the much needed Google CT log operator requirements of three public CT log servers. This public CT log can be used by any publicly-trusted CA and site operator to publish issued certificates. Furthermore, any organization that acts as a log monitor is free to use the Venafi public CT log to support their efforts.

    Venafi is proud to support the Google CT initiative and looks forward to providing enhanced security for all public CA customers.

    <![CDATA[Forrester Research Uncovers Gaps in Mobile Certificate Security]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/forrester-research-uncovers-gaps-in-mobile-certificate-security https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/forrester-research-uncovers-gaps-in-mobile-certificate-security/#When:22:55:00Z The increasing reliance on mobile devices and applications is driving the need for mobile certificates to ensure that devices and applications are secure, authenticated, and encrypted for enterprise users. But failing to protect mobile certificates—to whom they are issued and when they need to be revoked—opens the door to unauthorized access, data leakage, and intellectual property theft.  The fact is that keys and certificates of all kinds, including mobile certificates, are being targeted to initiate and continue attacks every single day.

    However, research published by Forrester Research uncovers that IT security professionals are not fully aware of the implications of what is required to protect mobile certificates. This creates gaps in understanding how to perform the most critical functions necessary for securing mobile certificates.

    IT Security’s Role in Protecting Mobile Certificates

    Forrester Research: Protecting Mobile Certificates

    A study by Forrester Research found that a majority of IT security decision makers rely on digital certificates to secure their mobile applications and systems, such as VPN, Mobile Device Management (MDM), email, WIFI, SSL/TLS mobile applications, and Mobile Application Management (MAM). Nearly 80% of IT security professionals acknowledge they own the responsibility for protecting mobile certificates. And two-thirds or more of IT security decision makers believe they should own responsibility for security functions, including certificate issuance, policy, updates, deployment, and revocation.

    Gaps in Security Awareness

    Although most agree that they are responsible, 77% of IT security professionals who responded to the survey said that they have very little visibility into the applications, users, use cases, and security of mobile certificates, and 71% said they do not have full control.  But what’s even more shocking, one of the most important functions—detecting anomalies—is a task that IT security is not prepared to perform.  Only 38% claim they have the ability to detect mobile certificate anomalies, such as duplicate certificates, or active certificates issued to terminated employees, both of which can be used for unauthorized access.

    IT Security Visibility of Mobile Certificates

    IT Security Does Not Have Full Visibility or Control of the Use of Mobile Certificates.
    Source: Forrester Research – IT Security’s Responsibility: Protecting Mobile Certificates


    Closing the Gaps

    So what can you do to close the gaps that exist in mobile certificate security?  Forrester Research recommends the following steps that enterprise organizations should take to protect mobile certificates:

    • Establish common policy across applications and desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones
    • Identify all sources of certificates
    • Map all found certificates to a single user and establish a baseline
    • Enforce policy for all mobile certificates
    • Detect anomalies like duplicate certificates or unrevoked certificates for terminated employees
    • Respond quickly to anomalies with kill-switch-like revocation
    • Prepare to quickly remediate when incidents like Heartbleed occur that require all certificates to be rekeyed, reissued, and revoked

    To learn more, read the Forrester Research study, IT Security’s Responsibility: Protecting Mobile Certificates.

    <![CDATA[2015: Get Ready for More Attacks on Trust]]> https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/2015-get-ready-for-more-attacks-on-trust https://www.venafi.com/blog/post/2015-get-ready-for-more-attacks-on-trust/#When:14:29:00Z Over the past few years, the threatscape has changed more than some realize. Cyberattackers want trusted status and they are misusing the very technologies that create trust for their nefarious purposes.

    So, you may ask, what exactly creates trust? Every mobile app, every cloud platform, every website—virtually anything that’s software, hardware, or Internet-enabled—relies upon digital certificates and cryptographic keys to create trust and define whether a source is good (trusted) or bad (untrusted). And the bad guys are going for these “keys to the kingdom” like never before!

    How do hackers get keys discussed on CNN

    Unfortunately, 2014 saw a significant rise in attacks that misused the keys and certificates that create trust in our digital kingdoms (businesses and governments). Let’s look at a few important examples:

    1. In January, Kaspersky Labs revealed details on The Mask, an APT operator that had been misusing keys and certificates for years. As reported by Kaspersky, The Mask’s Windows malware was digitally signed with a valid certificate.
    2. In April, a major vulnerability in OpenSSL called Heartbleed was widely reported and companies all over the world were warned to take action to protect their networks, including replacing and revoking compromised certificates and keys. Experts from Bruce Schneier to Gartner stated clearly that SSL/TLS keys and certificates must be replaced. Several months later, not surprisingly, a key and certificate that were not replaced were compromised to breach Community Health Systems, a Fortune 500 company.
    3. In July, IoActive researchers released a report on vulnerability in the U.S. Emergency Alert System, where a publicly available SSH key made it possible to hijack the nation’s warning system.
    4. In September, news of Shellshock, a flaw in the Bash shell, was reported that showed hackers could create long-term backdoors by inserting SSH keys and running critical shell commands on affected machines.
    5. In November, DarkHotel was reported, showing that a very effective APT campaign that tricked traveling executives using hotel WiFi networks was enabled by dozens of misused digital certificates.
    6. And finally, this December, Sony’s SSH keys and code-signing certificates were leaked as part of a massive breach, allowing the attackers to gain authorized access into Sony’s network and causing even more damage.

    So while 2014 saw more attacks misusing SSL/TLS keys and certificates, along with SSH keys, these aren’t exactly new threats; in fact, they go back to Flame and Stuxnet years ago. These actually created blueprints and sophisticated designs of attacks that can now arm nation-state attackers, APT operators, and common industry criminals with tools on how to use weaponized malware. The problem is that good guys have not been paying attention to the impact of misused certificatess and keys until just recently.

    In fact, in its latest threat report, McAfee Labs referred to 2014 as “The Year of Shaken Trust.” The report discussed attempts to exploit the Internet trust model, dramatic rise in misuse of digital certificates, growth in underground marketplaces selling compromised certificates, and the impact of SSL vulnerabilities such as Heartbleed and BERserk. Cisco also released its mid-year security report that said “compromised, secure encrypted connections” (aka SSL/TLS) are a major threat to enterprises. And recent University of Maryland research published in November 2014 validated findings by Venafi about non-remediation of Heartbleed, whereby 97 percent of Global 2000 SSL certificates were still vulnerable to Heartbleed several months after it was initially reported.

    Organizations need to be prepared for rampant rise in attacks on trust. We predict the following major developments in 2015:

    1. SSL will be used and abused a lot more. With the bad guys attacking and stealing data, there will be a need to use more SSL/TLS.  We’ve seen CloudFlare and the “Let’s Encrypt” teams now giving away free SSL certificates, and this is a great thing—more SSL/TLS protects data and privacy. But more certificates, and especially those that might not protect and continuously monitor, will create more criminal interest and activity. In fact, we’ve already seen the first free certificates misused by bad guys.
    2. Certificate expiration and outages will be recognized as a major security issues. It’s a fact: digital certificates expire, costing millions of dollars every year. But that’s not just a major operations issue; it’s a huge security issue—because it’s clear that if a certificate expires and users ignore this, the organization is being blindly trusted. At that point, what’s the difference between an organization’s expired certificates and those that are out-of-policy, misconfigured, or even malicious? But expirations also bring down services. We’ve already seen some recognize certificate expirations and outages as a major security issue following a major payments terminal outage.
    3. Our security controls will be useless against half of the network attacks. Gartner predicts that 50 percent of all inbound and outbound network attacks will use SSL/TLS by 2017. By the end of the year, we’ll likely already be there. Bad guys understand that most security systems either trust SSL/TLS or lack the keys to decrypt traffic and find their hidden threats. This undermines a whole slew of critical security controls like sandbox threat protection, NGFW, IDS/IPS, and DLP.
    4. Incident response teams will leave the door open for bad guys, resulting in more attacks. We also predict that incident response (IR) and forensics analysis teams will increasingly be called in to determine the root cause of breaches—i.e., to understand the forensics of the malware, where it is, what data was stolen and what parts of the network were infected with it. They will be able to bring these breached networks back to a good, trusted state, but breaches will still recur. Why? Because IR teams will forget to revoke and replace the certificates.
    5. Our hearts will continue to bleed. The Community Health Systems breach was likely just a proof-of-concept, and a sign of more exploits to come. Because of the lack of remediation—replacing keys and certificates—the impact of Heartbleed isn’t going away anytime soon.
    6. Kinetic attack will go through misused certificates and keys. Stuxnet is the first known kinetic attack that leveraged misused keys and certificates, but it won’t be the last. All sorts of interconnected networks and physical devices and systems—also known as the Internet of Things—are authenticated using SSL/TLS keys and certificates. Bad guys seeking to compromise these devices or misuse them in their attacks will look to keys and certificates as a means to an end.
    7. Compliance and security frameworks will continue to add guidance on how to protect keys and certificates. This past year, the SANS 20 critical security controls added multiple control checks on how to protect SSL/TLS keys and certificates and they are now including this in SANS trainings. This is a good step in the right direction. We expect to see more compliance and security frameworks do the same in 2015, especially now that the PCI Security Standard Council considered key and certificate security for a Special Interest Group (SIG).
    8. The Underground Digital Certificate Marketplace is open now for the bad guys. New underground marketplaces are developing for cybercriminals where they are selling keys and certificates for profit, because they know how valuable they are to undermining and circumventing critical security controls. Intel researchers expect this to be the next big cybercriminal market and we’re seeing compromised certificates sold for more than $900.

    Given all that, it looks like 2015 will also be the year when we look to not just manage keys and certificates, but also protect them and the trust they establish. I like to call it Next Generation Trust Protection. It requires constant surveillance, immediate detection of misuse (whether a policy violation or possibly malicious), and fully automated remediation to replace old or bad keys and certificates with new ones and get trusted keys and certificates out to more security systems like SSL decryption, sandbox threat protection, NGFW, IDS/IPS, DLP, and other security systems.

    This year one of Forrester’s top data protection predictions for 2015 pointed out that “Attackers who compromise trust end up with the keys to the kingdom.” We need to update our playbook when it comes to SSL/TLS keys and certificates, SSH keys, and keys and certificates used for VPN, WiFi, MDM, and more. The bad guys are attacking trust. It’s time for the good guys to defend it.