Symantec responds to 'panic' around DigiNotar hack

Refutes report that its certificate authorities were hacked

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  Security

Citing "panic" resulting from a hack on Dutch SSL certificate provider DigiNotar, Symantec has confirmed that its SSL Certificate Authorities VeriSign, Thawte, GeoTrust and RapidSSL roots remain secure."Yesterday a Dutch government agency erroneously made a statement that Thawte had been breached," said Fran Rosch, vice president of Trust Services at Symantec in a blog post.

"Although the statement was proven false and quickly retracted, it highlights the fear and knee-jerk reactive actions proliferating as a result," he added.On Tuesday the Vereniging Nederlandse Gemeenten (VNG), an association of local Dutch government administrations, claimed that Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate provider Thawte was hacked. It made the claim in a statement that explained to local authorities how to deal with issues resulting from the June hack on SSL certificate provider DigiNotar.

A hacker who calls himself the "Comodohacker" and claims to be Iranian said he was responsible for the attack. On Sept. 2 the Dutch government said it would ban all DigiNotar certificates from its systems. VNG spokesperson Gjalt Rameijer told Dutch news site Webwereld on Wednesday they made a mistake. "This information is indeed incorrect," he said admitting the misstep. VNG advises local Dutch governments. Symantec, one of the biggest supplier of SSL certificates, was forced to set things straight because the Comodohacker claims that he also hacked the GlobalSign Certificate Authority (CA) and four still unnamed CAs.

"I have access to their entire server, got DB backups, their linux / tar gzipped and downloaded, I even have private key of their OWN globalsign.com domain, hahahaa", the Comodohacker claimed in recent a message on Pastebin.  GlobalSign stopped issuing certificates on Tuesday after the hackers first claim and hired the Dutch company Fox-IT to investigate its systems."With all the panic going on around us, I want to assure you that we have performed exhaustive audits of our network and we are confident that our systems have not been affected by the breach that occurred at DigiNotar," Rosch emphasized. "The fraudulent certificates (revoked) were in no way connected to Symantec or any of its certificate authority brands. Our VeriSign, Thawte, GeoTrust and RapidSSL roots remain secure."

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