Popular HTTPS sites still vulnerable to OpenSSL connection hijacking attack

A known critical vulnerability in OpenSSL can be exploited on over 20,000 of Internet's top 155,000 SSL sites, a researcher from Qualys said

By Lucian Constantin, IDG News Service |  Security

Some of the Internet's most visited websites that encrypt data with the SSL protocol are still susceptible to a recently announced vulnerability that could allow attackers to intercept and decrypt connections.

On June 5, developers of the widely used OpenSSL crypto library released emergency security patches to address several vulnerabilities, including one tracked as CVE-2014-0224 that could allow attackers to spy on encrypted connections if certain conditions are met.

Until a few years ago, full-session encryption via HTTPS (HTTP with SSL) was mainly used by financial, e-commerce and other sites dealing with sensitive information. However, the increasing use of mobile devices that often connect over insecure wireless networks, coupled with the past year's revelations of upstream bulk data collection by spy agencies, led to a large number of sites adding support for it.

OpenSSL is the most popular cryptographic library for implementing SSL/TLS support on Web servers.

In order to exploit CVE-2014-0224 to decrypt and modify SSL traffic, attackers would need to have a "man-in-the-middle" position between a client and a server that both use OpenSSL. Furthermore, the server would need to run an OpenSSL version from the 1.0.1 branch.

According to scans performed Thursday by Ivan Ristic, who runs the SSL Labs at security vendor Qualys, about 14 percent of sites monitored by the SSL Pulse project run a version of OpenSSL that allows exploiting the CVE-2014-0224 flaw.

The SSL Pulse project monitors the strength of SSL implementations on HTTPS-enabled sites from the list of top 1 million most visited sites as published by Internet statistics firm Alexa -- 154,406 sites as of June 2nd.

An additional 36 percent of websites from the SSL Pule data set run OpenSSL versions from the 0.9.x or 1.0.0 branches that also contain the flaw, but against which the exploit known so far doesn't work.

Those servers should be upgraded too because it's possible that there are other yet-to-be-discovered ways to exploit the problem, Ristic said in a blog post Friday.

The patching rate for CVE-2014-0224 does not appear to be as high as the one for Heartbleed, a more serious vulnerability revealed at the beginning of April that also affected OpenSSL clients and servers.

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Ask a Question