Tag Archives: security

Security is not everything, but without security everything is nothing

According to estimates, around six million people of the eight million inhabitants in Switzerland use the Whatsapp news service in their private lives. In Germany and Austria, the figures will probably be similarly high. This type of communication is so self-evident that more and more companies want to communicate with their employees and customers with Whatsapp: Picture messages of a place to be repaired, details of a booked flight or even direct advertising.

The well-known news service explicitly allows operational use and offers a business version for SMEs and an interface (API) for large companies. The list of advantages is long: uncomplicated, direct, shorter decision paths, cost-effective customer service, etc. – what more do you want? Since 2017, however, more and more companies have prohibited their employees from using Whatsapp, as the basic EU data protection regulation stipulates that personal data may neither be collected nor processed without the consent of the person concerned. No company wants to afford the imminent fines of several million euros.

The problem lies in the way the messsanger service operates. It regularly reads the address books of its users in order to compare them with its database. In this way he can display contacts that are new to the service. They have never given their consent. This is therefore a violation of the general data protection regulation, which also applies to companies that have only one contact in the EU. If it is either a service telephone or a private one on which business contacts are stored with the consent of the company, the company is liable. If the employees use their own device in the company, no synchronization with the data processing systems may take place. Thus, the employee processes personal data without the employer’s permission and is then liable for possible violations of the law.

If the intelligence service is to be used in compliance with data protection regulations, there must be two separate address books, one internal, with only those persons who have given their consent to the transfer of their personal data to Whatsapp. Another possibility is the use of a GDPR-compliant messenger in the company. The disadvantage of this solution, however, is that such messengers have not yet become widespread and can therefore hardly be used in contact with customers.

And the solution? It corresponds to squaring the circle and is about as simple as the browser integration of CAcert in the next 12 months. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile, especially in the year 2019, to deal with how one deals with personal data in one’s company. The first companies to find practicable and easily implementable solutions can gain a competitive advantage, because “Security is not everything, but without security everything is nothing”. (Schopenhauer)

The sending of encrypted and signed e-mails is in compliance with the general data protection regulation. With the Organisation Assurance Programme, CAcert offers companies a simple and practical solution. The systematic sending of digitally signed e-mails offers customers the opportunity to clearly distinguish messages from spam and phishing. The encryption of internal e-mails increases security and is technically easy to implement, as the IT department rolls out the corresponding certificates.

Source: NZZ, 31.12.2018

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Efail: How you can still trust in GPG/PGP encryption

Use a safe e-mail client

The EFAIL attacks exploit vulnerabilities in the OpenPGP and S/MIME standards to reveal the plaintext of encrypted emails. In a nutshell, EFAIL abuses active content of HTML emails, for example externally loaded images or styles, to exfiltrate plaintext through requested URLs.

However, according to the German Federal Office for Information Security, the e-mail encryption standards mentioned can be used securely if they are correctly implemented and configured.

There should be no problem, if you and your e-Mail partner use one of the green marked e-mail clients. Even if your client has a red flag, it can be sure; you may do some further research (f.eg. Mailpile). But, do you know the software, others are using? The incident once again demonstrates the importance of trust in communication. Further reading about CAcert’s Web of Trust.

The published vulnerabilities show in particular that, in addition to careful handling of the private key to be kept secret, the security of the e-mail programs used and their configuration can also be decisive.

  • Basically, do not display or generate e-mails in HTML format.
  • In particular, the execution of active content, i.e. display of e-mails in HTML format and reloading of external content, should be switched off.
  • If an e-mail provider offers the possibility to do this via the settings of its webmail application, appropriate measures should also be implemented here.
  • Some vendors will publish patches that either fix the EFAIL vulnerabilities or make them much harder to exploit. So, update your e-mail client and the encryption extension.

For sensitive information that must be sent by e-mail, the following procedure can be used: Decrypt S/MIME or PGP emails in a separate application outside of your email client. Decrypt incoming encrypted emails by copy&pasting the ciphertext into a separate application that does the decryption for you. That way, the email clients cannot open exfiltration channels. This is currently the safest option with the downside that the process gets more involved.

Webmail seams not to be under attack, neither Mailvelope or PEP. All of them are not affected. So, the conclusion should not be to uninstall encryption, but to review your e-mail client, update it and adjust the properties.

CAcert.org is a community-driven Certificate Authority that issues certificates to the public at large for free. These certificates can be used to digitally sign and encrypt email, authenticate and authorize users connecting to websites and secure data transmission over the internet. CAcert has more than 358 000 users, is operated by volunteers and financed by donations.

Further reading:
OpenPGP is safer than S/MIME (by GnuPG)

ATE Nykobing, Denmark on September 20th 2015

[Danish and German version below]
On Sunday 20th September there will be “A day of Internet Security and CAcert ATE” hosted by ShowIT Media [1].

Agenda

10:00 Welcome
10:15 A Security status on the Internet by Bitdefender
11:00 A Quick Introduction to CAcert
11:20 Time out for lunch
12:15 CAcert Assurance Training Event (ATE)
17:00 Thank you for coming / Safe journey home.

All speeches will be held in English. There will be the possiblity to gether at least 100 Assurance Points.

Place:
ShowIT Media
Slotsbryggen 14 A-D
4800 Nykobing F
Denmark

More information can be found [2], to register: I will attend the ATE Nykobing

[1] https://www.showitmedia.eu/uk_cert.html
[2] https://wiki.cacert.org/Events/2015-09-20-ATE-DK-Nykobing

[Danish version]

Søndag den 20. September afholdes ”En dag med Internet sikkerhed og CAcert ATE” hos ShowIT Media [1].

Program:

10:00 Velkomst
10:15 ”En status på sikkerheden på internettet” af Bitdefender
11:00 En kort præsentation af CAcert
11:20 Frokostpause
12:15 CAcert Assurance Training Event (ATE)
17:00 Tak for I dag / Kom godt hjem

Alle indlæg holdes på Engelsk. Det vil være muligt at samle mindst 100 Assurance point.

Du kan finde mere information på [2] og registrere dig her: Jeg deltager i ATE i Nykøbing

[German version]

Am Sonntag den 20. September veranstaltet die ShowIT Media “Einen Tag der Internetsicherheit und ein CAcert ATE/”A day of Internet Security and CAcert ATE” [1].

Agenda

10:00 Grußwort
10:15 Ein Sicherheitsstatusbericht für das Internet durch Bitdefender
11:00 Eine kurze Dartstellung von CAcert
11:20 Mittagspause
12:15 CAcert Assurance Training Event (ATE)
17:00 Ende der Veranstaltung

Alle Vorträge werden in Englisch gehalten. Es wird die Möglichkeit bestehen mindestens 100 Assurancepunkte zu sammeln.

Weitere Informationen zum Event unter [2], zum Anmelden: Ich nehme ATE in Nykobing teil.

Disabling SSL3 and 3DES support to improve security for CAcert’s users

CAcert intends to disable SSL3 and 3DES support for its main website www.cacert.org by December 1, 2014.

The main CAcert website is currently still supporting the SSL3 protocol for secure connections. However, in https://www.openssl.org/~bodo/ssl-poodle.pdf  it is shown that SSL3 is susceptible to certain cryptograhical attacks. While www.cacert.org does support the recommended TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV option to protect clients with that same protocol option against unintended downgrades to SSL3, this still leaves plain old SSL3 clients vulnerable for the new attack.

Similarly, www.cacert.org is currently still supporting the 3DES cipher suite for encyrpting secure connections. However, this provides only 112 bits of security, which is below the currently recommended number of 128. Hence we should disable it to protect CAcert’s clients.

In practice, the only client known to negotiate SSL3 with www.cacert.org is Internet Explorer 6.0 as found in Windows XP. Thus disabling SSL3 will block https access for these clients only. Similarly, 3DES will only be negotiated by IE 6 and IE 8 running on Windows XP. Since Windows XP is no longer supported by its vendor, and the widely circulated advice to all its users is to switch to a more recent operating system (or switch at least to a more current browser), announcing termination of support for SSL3 and 3DES by CAcert on December 1, 2014 does not seem unreasonable, and is fully in line with our mission to support the security of its users.

If you want to discuss this issue further, please use the bug tracker created for this issue (https://bugs.cacert.org/view.php?id=1314).