>This sounds very confused.  Certs are public.  How would knowing a copy
>of the server cert help me to decrypt SSL traffic that I have intercepted?

I found allot of people mistakenly use the term certificate to mean
something like a pkcs12 file containing public key certificate and private
key.  Maybe if comes from crypto software sales people that oversimplify or
don't really understand the technology.  I don't know, but it's a rant I

>Now if I had a copy of the server's private key, that would help, but such
>private keys are supposed to be closely held.

>Or are you perhaps talking about some kind of active man-in-the-middle
>attack, perhaps exploiting DNS spoofing?  It doesn't sound like it, since
>you mentioned passive sniffing.

I guess the threat would be something like an adversary getting access to a
web server, getting a hold of the private key (which in most cases is just
stored in a file, allot of servers need to be bootable without intervention
as well so there is a password somewhere in the clear that allows one to
unlock the private key), and then using it from a distance, say on a router
near the server where the adversary can sniff the connections.  A malicious
ISP admin could pull off something like that, law authority that wants to
read your messages, etc.

Is that a threat worth mentioning?  Well, it might be.  In any case,
forward-secrecy is what can protect us here.  Half-certified (or fully
certified) ephemeral Diffie-Hellman provides us with that property.

Of course, if someone could get the private signature key, he could then do
a man-in-the-middle attack and decrypt all messages as well.  It wouldn't
really be that harder to pull off.


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