This is the crypto standard that the NSA sabotaged

The New York Times has published further details of last week's leaked documents detailing the NSA's program of sabotage to crypto products and standards. The new report confirms that the standard that the NSA sabotaged was the widely-suspected NIST Dual EC DRBG standard. The Times reports that the NSA then pushed its backdoored standard through the International Organization for Standardization and the Canadian Communications Security Establishment.

NIST has re-opened the comments on its standard with the hope of rooting out the NSA sabotage to the random number generator and restoring trust in its work products.

The agency said that because of cryptographers’ concerns, it would reopen the public comment period for three publications — Special Publication 800-90A and drafts of Special Publications 800-90B and 800-90C — which all use the random number generator in question.

“If vulnerabilities are found in these or any other N.I.S.T. standard, we will work with the cryptographic community to address them as quickly as possible,” the agency’s statement said.

“I know from firsthand communications that a number of people at N.I.S.T. feel betrayed by their colleagues at the N.S.A.,” Mr. Green said in an interview Tuesday. “Reopening the standard is the first step in fixing that betrayal and restoring confidence in N.I.S.T.”

Government Announces Steps to Restore Confidence on Encryption Standards [Nicole Perlroth/NYT]

(via Interesting People)

Notable Replies

  1. nofare says:

    "'I know from firsthand communications that a number of people at N.I.S.T. feel betrayed by their colleagues at the N.S.A.,' Mr. Green said in an interview Tuesday.'"

    "Betrayed"? Really?! Either those people are the most naive people to have ever worked with (drum rolls!) a spying agency, or they're taking us for fools.

  2. Especially because there was a time when they were (at least the crypto side of the house, I assume that team eavesdropping was either less powerful at the time, or more confident that 'eh, it's not like anybody we can't subpoena will get their act together, so who cares'). The whole DES S-box incident, where the NSA's suspicious "No, you should use these arbitrary numbers instead of the other ones" turned out to be advice that prevented a then-publicly-unknown attack on the system, rather than malice.

    NIST apparently didn't notice the NSA going off the rails, if they are in fact feeling shocked and betrayed; but there was a time when the NSA thought that better cryptography was a national security thing, rather than being fixated on whatever acronym soup the unwholesome spawn of Total Information Awareness are going by these days...

  3. ians says:

    Hum surely that headline should be fixed? And not even because of the "the the" smile How about:

    "This is a crypto standard that the NSA sabotaged"

    We shouldn't stop re-examining the rest of them simply because Dual_EC_DRBG was spotted.

  4. I like this from the article's comments:

    T. Traub from Arizona:

    The NSA's meddling in public cryptographic communications
    and standards has caused irreparable harm to the nation.
    While the general public may be blissfully unaware of the
    implications of compromised Internet security, the technology
    industries certainly are not. Contracts are being canceled and
    previously trusted relationships reevaluated.

    Ultimately, what will emerge from the ashes of this tainted system is
    multiple systems operating in parallel: the officially sanctioned,
    compromised internet with full government scrutiny of all data, and
    one or more shadow networks where the real trusted transactions take

    These "dark" networks will probably operate offshore and the U.S.
    government will expend great amounts of time and energy and treasure
    trying to trace them, block them, and shut them down, much as China
    does today.

    It's the end of freedom and privacy.

    T. Traub is right. I've had clients already approaching me in higher numbers about circumventing the risk of having their business secrets plucked and fucked by unscrupulous government employees in the TSA, NSA, CIA, ATF, FBI and WTF.

    Needless to say, if they didn't already listen to me in the past, I'm now moving clients away from some popular American corporations and pushing them towards more open source solutions instead.

    The American government and top tech corporations brought this upon themselves. And, I have to admit I'm a bit hostile since whenever I tried to bring this shit up on the Internet in the past I'd get attacked from hoards of Microsoft and especially Google fanboys, lackeys, astroturfers, sockpuppets, etc. that suggested I wear fancy tinfoil hats and shit. Eat a bag of rotund dicks.

    I don't know how many times when I'd point out that a glaring security flaw in an Apple, MIcrosoft, Google, etc. product or service was discovered that it was perhaps an exposed backdoor that I was mocked and sent fancy tinfoil hat pictures.

    Now it turns out those flaw were backdoors. How do those fancy dunce hats feel, fellas?

    /end bitter rant

  5. The damage done to the very structure of trust and its algorithmic implementations means that the NSA, NIST the US government will never again be entirely trusted.

    This is inevitable and may all well be to the better.

    Its already been proved the NSA were bastards and Edward Snowden deserves a medal and a Nobel peace prize.

    I am wearing a T-Shirt saying: "National Security Agency. Peeping while you're sleeping" around the NSA logo, and sub-titled "The NSA. The only part of government that actually listens." [ ]

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