On Tuesday 31 May 2005 19:38, Steven M. Bellovin wrote:
> In message <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>, Ian G writes:
> >On Tuesday 31 May 2005 02:17, Steven M. Bellovin wrote:
> >> In message <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>, "James A. Donald" writes:
> >> >    --
> >> >PKI was designed to defeat man in the middle attacks
> >> >based on network sniffing, or DNS hijacking, which
> >> >turned out to be less of a threat than expected.
> >>
> >> First, you mean "the Web PKI", not PKI in general.
> >>
> >> The next part of this is circular reasoning.  We don't see network
> >> sniffing for credit card numbers *because* we have SSL.
> >
> >I think you meant to write that James' reasoning is
> >circular, but strangely, your reasoning is at least as
> >unfounded - correlation not causality.  And I think
> >the evidence is pretty much against any causality,
> >although this will be something that is hard to show,
> >in the absence.
> Given the prevalance of password sniffers as early as 1993, and given
> that credit card number sniffing is technically easier -- credit card
> numbers will tend to be in a single packet, and comprise a
> self-checking string, I stand by my statement.

Well, I'm not arguing it is technically hard.  It's just
un-economic.  In the same sense that it is not technically
difficult for us to get in a car and go run someone
over;  but we still don't do it.  And we don't ban the
roads nor insist on our butlers walking with a red
flag in front of the car, either.  Well, not any more.

So I stand by my statement - correlation is not causality.

> > * AFAICS, a non-trivial proportion of credit
> >card traffic occurs over totally unprotected
> >traffic, and that has never been sniffed as far as
> >anyone has ever reported.  (By this I mean lots of
> >small merchants with MOTO accounts that don't
> >bother to set up "proper" SSL servers.)
> Given what a small percentage of ecommerce goes to those sites, I don't
> think it's really noticeable.

Exactly my point.  Sniffing isn't noticeable.  Neither
in the cases we know it could happen, nor in the
areas.  The one place where it has been noticed is
with passwords and what we know from that experience
is that even the slightest security works to overcome
that threat.  SSH is overkill, compared to the passwords
mailouts that successfully protect online password sites.

> > * We know that from our experiences
> >of the wireless 802.11 crypto - even though we've
> >got repeated breaks and the FBI even demonstrating
> >how to break it, and the majority of people don't even
> >bother to turn on the crypto, there remains practically
> >zero evidence that anyone is listening.
> >
> >  FBI tells you how to do it:
> >  https://www.financialcryptography.com/mt/archives/000476.
> Sure -- but setting up WEP is a nuisance.  SSL (mostly) just works.

SSH just works - and it worked directly against the
threat you listed above (password sniffing).  But it
has no "PKI" to speak of, and this discussion is about
whether PKI protects people, because it is PKI that is
supposed to protect against spoofing - a.k.a. phishing.

And it is PKI that makes SSL "just doesn't set up."
Anyone who's ever had to set up an Apache web
server for SSL has to have asked themselves the
question ... "why doesn't this just work" ?

> As 
> for your assertion that no one is listening, I'm not sure what kind of
> evidence you'd seek.  There's plenty of evidence that people abuse
> unprotected access points to gain connectivity.

Simply, evidence that people are listening.  Sniffing
by means of the wire.

Evidence that people abuse to gain unprotected
access is nothing to do with sniffing traffic to steal
information.  That's theft of access, which is a fairly
minor issue, especially as it doesn't have any
economic damages worth speaking of.  In fact,
many cases seem to be more accidental access
where neighbours end up using each other's access
points because the software doesn't know where the
property lines are.

> >> Since many of
> >> the worm-spread pieces of spyware incorporate sniffers, I'd say that
> >> part of the threat model is correct.
> >
> >But this is totally incorrect!  The spyware installs on the
> >users' machines, and thus does not need to sniff the
> >wire.  The assumption of SSL is (as written up in Eric's
> >fine book) that the wire is insecure and the node is
> >secure, and if the node is insecure then we are sunk.
> I meant precisely what I said and I stand by my statement.  I'm quite
> well aware of the difference between network sniffers and keystroke
> loggers.

OK, so maybe I am incorrectly reading this - are you
saying that spyware is being delivered that incorporates
wire sniffers?  Sniffers that listen to the ethernet traffic?

If that's the case, that is the first I've heard of it.  What
is it that these sniffers are listening for?

> >  Eric's book and "1.2 The Internet Threat Model"
> >  http://iang.org/ssl/rescorla_1.html
> >
> >Presence of keyboard sniffing does not give us any
> >evidence at all towards wire sniffing and only serves
> >to further embarrass the SSL threat model.
> >
> >> As for DNS hijacking -- that's what's behind "pharming" attacks.  In
> >> other words, it's a real threat, too.
> >
> >Yes, that's being tried now too.  This is I suspect the
> >one area where the SSL model correctly predicted
> >a minor threat.  But from what I can tell, server-based
> >DNS hijacking isn't that successful for the obvious
> >reasons (attacking the ISP to get to the user is a
> >higher risk strategy than makes sense in phishing).
> They're using cache contamination attacks, among other things.
> ...
> >As perhaps further evidence of the black mark against
> >so-called secure browsing, phishers still have not
> >bothered to acquire control-of-domain certs for $30
> >and use them to spoof websites over SSL.
> >
> >Now, that's either evidence that $30 is too much to
> >pay, or that users just ignore the certs and padlocks
> >so it is no big deal anyway.  Either way, a model
> >that is bypassed so disparagingly without even a
> >direct attack on the PKI is not exactly recommending
> >itself.
> I agre completely that virtually no one checks certificates (or even
> knows what they are).
>               --Steven M. Bellovin, http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~smb

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