Archive for the ‘security’ Category

Skype Compression Now Published

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

A while ago I blogged about the first published information about reverse-engineering of Skype (Skypes Flux Capacitor has been released, Skypes Flux Capacitor: UDP). A missing piece in the puzzle was the arithmetic compression algorithm used by Skype, details about which were first published in Silver Needle in the Skype. Meanwhile I’ve seen source code of the compression algorithm from two different sources — one of them on a blog on Open Source Skype, although that version doesn’t seem to be available any longer on that page, try the usual sources to find “removed” internet-information. The code is both versions is different. I’ve not yet had the time to further look into this (and try out the code on actual Skype packets) but from what I’ve seen the code looks genuine. There are some questions, though, if the code works with later versions of Skype, it seems the protocol was slightly changed recently.
There is also some press coverage from the interview with Efim Bushmanov, the author of the menioned blog:

So we now have alle the pieces of the puzzle to start writing a plugin for Wireshark to give us a tool to further analyze the network traffic produced by Skype. Maybe an open source client is on the horizon now (there’s still a long way to go since we don’t know the binary formats used by the voice and video codecs in Skype, but maybe keyboard-chat is within reach now). Shameless Plug: If you have resources (money or time) to help writing a Wireshark plugin for Skype, please contact me, I’m trying to coordinate efforts in this direction.
That said, there are rumors that (one of) the Skype Certificate-Authority-Key (the Root key in a certificate chain) was leaked. Lets see what comes from this… leaking the key could make communications available to third parties or forge identities. But be aware that the makers of Skype probably already do have the mechanisms in place to listen into the contents of Skype traffic as was first hinted at by the Silver Needle in the Skype presentation and which I’ve mentioned in my talks on Skype (presentation material linked from my home page).
Looks like Microsoft has aquired a piece of software here that perfectly fits its security record so far — this could be helped by letting independent researchers look at the Skype protocol design, but may well uncover further problems down the road. We again see here that secrecy won’t help security in the long run, we may view this as a generalisation of Kerckhoffs’ Principle. Opening the procotol like speculated in the article Skype reverse-engineered by Russian geek is still a very unlikely move by Microsoft, in my view… but I would certainly welcome this.

Unix Domain Sockets

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

I recently had to find a solution for a communication problem: An application running on a web-server should update configuration files that are only readable by a privileged user and these should not be directly writeable by the web-server user.
So the idea was to write an update-server running under the privileged account which receives update requests (and can perform additional checks) from the unprivileged web server user.
One of the checks I wanted to make was that only the web-server user (www-data on debian) should be able to send update requests. So I had to find out the user sending a request via the Unix-domain socket. Google found a nice socket howto on Henning Makholm’s blog which told me most of what I needed to know: “so I ended up just checking the EUID of the client process after the connection has been accept()ed. For your reference, the way to do this is getsockopt() with SO_PEERCRED for Linux”.
But one issue was remaining: I didn’t need a SOCK_STREAM socket but wanted to send datagrams to the other side (and didn’t want to fiddle with implementing my own datagram layer on top of a stream socket). With normal SOCK_DGRAM datagram sockets there is no connection — and therefore I can’t determine the user sending the datagram from the other side of the socket.
Looking further I discovered that Linux has connection-oriented datagram sockets for quite some time under the name SOCK_SEQPACKET. With this type of socket you first connect() to the other side and then you send a datagram. Since now there is a connection the trick with SO_PEERCRED as described above works, too.
Code for Server (python):


from socket import socket, SOCK_SEQPACKET, AF_UNIX, SOL_SOCKET
from struct import unpack
try :
    # Not implemented in python 2.6, maybe higher
    from socket import SO_PEERCRED
except ImportError :
    SO_PEERCRED = 17 # Linux
sock = socket (AF_UNIX, SOCK_SEQPACKET)
path = '/path/to/socket'
try :
    os.remove (path)
except OSError :
    pass
sock.bind (path)
conn, adr = self.sock.accept ()
ucred = conn.getsockopt (SOL_SOCKET, SO_PEERCRED, 12)
pid, uid, gid = unpack ('LLL', ucred)
if uid... check uid:
    error...
    conn.close ()

data = conn.recv (4096)

Code for client (python):


from socket import socket, SOCK_SEQPACKET, AF_UNIX
s = socket (AF_UNIX, SOCK_SEQPACKET)
s.connect ('path/to/socket')
s.send (.....)
s.close ()

Skypes Flux Capacitor: UDP

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

I recently wrote about the broken network obfuscation code (aka Flux Capacitor) of Skype published by Sean O’Neil. At the time I wasn’t able to decrypt UDP packets. Now I’ve looked a little more closely into the Vanilla Skype documentation — which also includes some code to decrypt Skype credentials on harddisk. This code contains a CRC implementation called CRC32. I had wrongly asumed that CRC32 of Skype would be the same as the crc32 implementation of pkzip, Ethernet, png, the POSIX cksum command etc. which is listed as “crc32″ in the CRC article on Wikipedia and which is standardized in e.g. IEEE 802.3.
The crc32 from the standards above inverts all the bits of the seed before using it (it uses an XOR mask of 0xFFFFFFFF) and does this again before returning the result of the CRC computation to the caller. But it uses the same polynomial as skype. So we can use an existing standard CRC implementation (e.g from the zlib library) as follows for computing the skype CRC:

def skype_crc (s, seed = 0xFFFFFFFF) :
    return (crc32 (s, seed ^ 0xFFFFFFFF)) ^ 0xFFFFFFFF

With this crc implementation I’m now able to also decrypt UDP (see updated code) packets. I’ve shown this some days ago at my talk @linuxwochenende, for slides see my events page.

Linuxwochenende 2010

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Dieses Wochenende ist wieder Linuxwochenende im metalab, ich werde einen Vortrag zu Skype und dem vor kurzem veröffentlichten Flux Capacitor code und einen zweiten zu Traffic Shaping unter Linux halten.

Skypes Flux Capacitor has been released

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Skype uses an obfuscation layer for making it harder for others to analyze the Skype network traffic. This obfuscation layer has been called “Flux Capacitor” by the authors of the 2006 publications “Silver Needle in the Skype” and “Vanilla Skype”, Philippe Biondi, Fabrice Desclaux, and Kostya Kortchinsky, see the Wikipedia article on Skype for references about their publications. They discovered this flux capacitor code when reverse engineering the Skype binary program but didn’t dare to publish it for fear of others attacking the Skype network. They hinted at all sorts of bad things that were possible when knowing the Skype prototocol, the least of which is scanning networks behind firewalls (Skype is well known to be able to connect to the internet even in the presence of firewalls).
Now this Flux Capacitor code has been released by a group called “Skype Reverse Engineering Team” in a blog post Skype’s Biggest Secret Revealed by Sean O’Neil claiming that the code was already leaked and used by spammers. But they didn’t tell us how to use that code and defer further information to the next Chaos Communication Congress 27C3.
I certainly hope that the security holes in Skype are not that bad as feared by others. Some good can come out of it: maybe we’ll see a free Skype client in the not-too-far future. A good plan now would be to write a Wireshark dissector for Skype so that we can analyze the network traffic. Unfortunately the authors didn’t tell us yet how to call that code to de-obfuscate Skype traffic. But there is plenty of information in the aforementioned publications. So I’ve written a Makefile to create a shared library from the now released code and a Python wrapper that decrypts a single packet from a Skype network dump called SkypeIRC.cap published on the Wireshark page. This at least proves that the code works — the first several bytes of a Skype TCP stream decrypt to a known value.
Maybe others want to use this as a starting point before more is released by the authors at the Chaos Communication Congress 27C3.

How to get smartcards or crypto-tokens running on Debian Linux and Windows

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

This is a step-by-step Howto on installation and usage of the necessary commands to get smartcards or crypto-tokens working on Linux — and on Windows.
Smart card software on Linux consists of a driver for the card reader also called card terminal and a driver for the smartcard or token. There are two projects, OpenSC and MUSCLE. Both projects produce drivers for card terminals (for OpenSC this sub-project is called OpenCT) and for various cards. There are configuration options to make one project see the drivers of the other and vice versa.
I’m using OpenCT (card terminal) and OpenSC (smart card) software because these have worked better for me — except for the pcscd daemon from the MUSCLE project that might be needed for some applications. If you’re using software that depends on a PC/SC interface, you’ll also need to install the pcscd daemon (comes as a debian package).
Manufacturers are continuously improving their smartcards and the applications that run on the card. Up to now this has created an ever-changing pile of middleware to talk to these cards. An idea to improve the situation was a programmable card: Put a Java interpreter on the card and provide applets (so-called “cardlets”) for applications. The idea claims this would improve the situation for middleware on the host. Unfortunately this isn’t quite true: The Java virtual machine on smartcards is subject to change. So we have cards with a recent JVM and old cards with an ancient (1.1 from 2001) JVM. This means the applet needed to make the card work has to be cross-compiled to an older JVM depending on the card used. And there are still a number of host configuration issues.
The situation is worsened by the fact that many manufacturers of smartcards provide cards with their proprietary cardlet in the ROM of the card. This means these cards cannot be used with the applet that matches your middleware. And we’re back to the start and have to write a driver for the proprietary (this time java) middleware as before.
If you’re using Java-based smartcards you need to get a card that can accept a new applet and has the necessary developer keys published. Usually these cards are called “developer version” or similar. You then can use the MCardApplet from the MUSCLE plugins project. I recommend to build the applet yourself — after all this is a security application where your security depends on the software running on the card. There is a section below for preparing a java card with the appropriate applet.
I got the eToken PRO 32k (4.2B) working with OpenSC but not the eToken PRO 72k (Java). The first uses Siemens CardOS, the number in parentheses denotes the version number. Unfortunately these old CardOS based tokens will be discontinued, and Siemens seems to have announced end of life status for its CardOS.
The 72k eToken from Aladdin uses Java and needs a Java applet. The OpenSC project claims that the Java token works with OpenSC, but it didn’t for me. Maybe the token wasn’t a developer version that can accept an applet. The token also didn’t work under windows (although it worked with the Aladdin software there, i.e., I could initialize it) and I had a recent OpenSC binary release for windows from October 2009.
From the OpenSC documentation: “For programmable java cards: the support is for the card with the specific applet – if you have a different applet on your card, it might not be supported.”
First steps for non-Java cards or Java-cards with MCardApplet installed (for installation of the applet, see below):
Install smartcard software and card terminal framework:


apt-get install pcscd opensc libengine-pkcs11-openssl
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  libengine-pkcs11-openssl libp11-0

If your smartcard reader is not supported by pcscd, you should install the openct package in addition to the packages above. You can then run pcscd on top of openct.
After installing these programs, we need to configure pcscd to correctly use our reader. Configure /etc/opensc/opensc.conf to use the pcscd method, search for reader_drivers inside the app default stanza of the config file and modify this to:

reader_drivers = pcsc;

For CCID compatible readers without openct installed, the reader should be visible after plugging in the reader into the USB port:

Readers known about:
Nr.    Driver     Name
0      pcsc       Gemplus GemPC Key 00 00

If the card reader is not directly supported by pcscd (but is supported by openct) we need to configure /etc/reader.conf.d/openct, a config file of pcscd, to use OpenCT as the input method, for this the file should contain:

FRIENDLYNAME     "OpenCT"
DEVICENAME       /dev/null
LIBPATH          /usr/lib/openct-ifd.so
CHANNELID        0

after modifying this file on Debian (on non-Debian systems you’ll probably have to modify /etc/reader.conf directly) we have to run:

update-reader.conf

which creates a new /etc/reader.conf. Now stop and restart openct and pcscd in the following order:

/etc/init.d/pcscd stop
/etc/init.d/openct restart
/etc/init.d/pcscd start

When everything went OK, you should see a pcscd based reader using opensc-tool:

opensc-tool -l
Readers known about:
Nr.    Driver     Name
0      pcsc       OpenCT 00 00

Add user to “scard” group in /etc/group and log in again to have the permissions to access the card. This is necessary if you want to use a reader provided by openct without going through pcscd.
If all else fails, you can still use openct without pcscd and set reader_drivers in /etc/opensc/opensc.conf to:

reader_drivers = openct;

Then a reader should be visible like this:


opensc-tool -l
Readers known about:
Nr.    Driver     Name
0      openct     Aladdin eToken PRO 64k
1      openct     OpenCT reader (detached)
2      openct     OpenCT reader (detached)
3      openct     OpenCT reader (detached)
4      openct     OpenCT reader (detached)

Now we should be able to read the card, if there is only one token in the USB port and no other smartcard readers are installed, we can leave out the -r option (for specifying the reader to use):


cardos-info
3b:f2:18:00:02:c1:0a:31:fe:58:c8:09:75
Info : CardOS V4.2B (C) Siemens AG 1994-2005
Chip type: 123
Serial number: 27 37 c0 09 2b 18
Full prom dump:
33 66 00 45 CB CB CB CB 7B FF 27 37 C0 09 2B 18 3f.E....{.'7..+.
00 00 00 00 01 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 ................
OS Version: 200.9 (that's CardOS M4.2b)
Current life cycle: 32 (administration)
Security Status of current DF:
Free memory : 1024
ATR Status: 0x0 ROM-ATR
Packages installed:
Ram size: 4, Eeprom size: 32, cpu type: 66, chip config: 63
Free eeprom memory: 27686
System keys: PackageLoadKey (version 0xfe, retries 10)
System keys: StartKey (version 0xff, retries 10)
Path to current DF:

1.   Using Java-based Smartcards
Java-based smartcards need some preparation to work with OpenSC. First you should make sure that you have a card that permits you to upload your own applet (cardlet) to the card. This usually means you need a so-called developer version. Avoid cards that have a proprietary manufacturer applet in read-only memory! You also usually need some development keys to upload a cardlet to the card.
For the following instructions I’ve used the Gemalto TOP IM FIPS CY2 (Cyberflex Access 64k v2) which is an old card that has a Java virtual machine version 1.1 from 2001 (!) but the card is well established and will probably be available for some time.
For the card reader I’ve used the Gemalto USB Shell V2 (GemPC Key), a CCID compatible reader. When buying a new reader, you should use one that follows the CCID specification from the PC/SC Workgroup, this ensures that OpenCT will support it. The card reader I’m using can read ID-000 format cards, also called SIM cards. These are small form-factor cards that are nice for authentication purposes. The Cyberflex card I’m using is available in ID-000. If a card isn’t available in ID-000, chances are you can make it fit using a service similar to this SIM cutting service.
Preparing the card for use with OpenSC is a two-step process. The first step is to obtain the necessary applet for the card. The second is to upload the applet to the card and initialize the card with a default PIN. Note that 2048 bit keys may not work with MCardApplet with the current software versions, see Some notes on key sizes.

1.1.   Obtaining the MCardApplet for your card
I recommend building your own version of the applet from source. Get the source code from svn://svn.debian.org/muscleplugins/trunk/MCardApplet using the source code control tool subversion:


svn co svn://svn.debian.org/muscleplugins/trunk/MCardApplet

I had to make several changes to use Java 1.6 for cross-building for the ancient Java VM that runs on the card. My Cflex.properties looks like this:

CARD_NAME=Cflex
JAVA_BUILD_HOME=/usr
JC_HOME=${basedir}/depends/jc212
API_JAR=${JC_HOME}/lib/api21.jar
API_EXPORT_FILES=${JC_HOME}/api21_export_files
CAPTRANS=${basedir}/depends/jc212/bin/captransf.jar
VM_SOURCE_VERSION=1.2
VM_TARGET_VERSION=1.1
BOOTCLASSPATH=${basedir}/depends/jdk1.2.2/depends/jdk1.2.2/lib

In particular, I’m using the native java environment installed on debian lenny. This lives in /usr. Otherwise you should follow the excellent building instructions in the file INSTALL. Then I’ve modified the javac in the target named compile in the common.xml ant build file as follows:

<target depends="precompile" name="compile">
    <mkdir dir="${OUTPUT_DIR}"/>
    <javac debug="on"
        verbose="on"
        fork="true"
        executable="${JAVA_BUILD_HOME}/bin/javac"
        srcdir="${APPLET_SRC}"
        destdir="${OUTPUT_DIR}"
        target="${VM_TARGET_VERSION}"
        source="${VM_SOURCE_VERSION}">
        <bootclasspath>
            <pathelement location="${BOOTCLASSPATH}"/>
        </bootclasspath>
        <classpath>
            <pathelement location="${API_JAR}"/>
            <pathelement location="."/>
            <pathelement path="${java.class.path}"/>
        </classpath>
    </javac>
</target>

I’ve added the target and source options. These refer to the specific java virtual machine version we’re cross-building for. I’ve also added the bootclasspath to get the classes that are VM specific from the old java development package.
This allows me to cross-build the applet for an old version of the java virtual machine without running the old java development environment which does no longer run on recent versions of Linux due to library incompatibilities.
I also had to change all the backslashes in common.xml to forward slashes. It looks like the java compiler can handle the backslashes in path names, but the other tools cannot.
Before building you should also look through CflexCapabilities.properties for any capabilities you want to enable which are not enabled in the default configuration. I had to enable -DWITH_RSA_2048 and -DWITH_SIGN for example.
For the impatiant I’m offering a pre-compiled version of the applet. I’ll update this text with the build instructions soon.

1.2.   Uploading the applet to the card
As a preparation for this step, you should install the pcsc daemon and the pcsclite development packages on debian:


apt-get install pcscd libpcsclite-dev

For uploading the applet to the card, I recommend using gpshell, a tool from the globalplatform project which depends on the globalplatform library. Unfortunately these are not yet packaged as Debian packages, so obtain the sourcecode to both, gpshell and the globalplatform library . Unpack these packages and build using the normal process:

./configure
make
make install

For the globalplatform library you need the development libraries for libpcsclite, available as the Debian package libpcsclite-dev which should be installed before the ./configure step above.
If you installed the globalplatform library without root privileges, you have to run ldconfig as root to make the new library available in the shared library cache.
Check that your smartcard services are running (see above for how to do that) and verify that you see your card reader (or token) using:


opensc-tool -l

The gpshell tool interfaces to the card via pcscd, so you should see something similar to the following:

Readers known about:
Nr.    Driver     Name
0      pcsc       Gemplus GemPC Key 00 00

Now we can proceed to upload the applet using gpshell. We need the following applet upload gpshell script, put this into the file applet_install.gpshell, note that lines terminated with “” need to be concatenated, gpshell currently doesn’t understand continuation lines:

enable_trace
establish_context
card_connect
select -AID a000000003000000
open_sc -security 1 -keyind 0 -keyver 0 
   -mac_key 404142434445464748494a4b4c4d4e4f 
   -enc_key 404142434445464748494a4b4c4d4e4f
delete -AID a00000000101
delete -AID a000000001
delete -AID a0000003230101
delete -AID a00000032301
install_for_load -pkgAID a000000001 -nvCodeLimit 16000 
   -sdAID a000000003000000
load -file CardEdgeCflex.ijc
install_for_install -instParam 00 -priv 02 -AID a00000000101 
   -pkgAID a000000001 -instAID a00000000101 -nvDataLimit 32000
card_disconnect
release_context

and run the script with gpshell:

gpshell applet_install.gpshell

Finally we will have to set a default PIN for the card using opensc-tool:

opensc-tool -s 00:A4:04:00:06:A0:00:00:00:01:01 -s 
B0:2A:00:00:38:08:4D:75:73:63:6C:65:30:30:04:01:08:
30:30:30:30:30:30:30:30:08:30:30:30:30:30:30:30:30:
05:02:08:30:30:30:30:30:30:30:30:08:30:30:30:30:30:
30:30:30:00:00:17:70:00:02:01

This sets the PIN to eight zeros, “00000000”. After this procedure the card can be used like a normal PKCS#15 based card with OpenSC.

1.2.1.   Some notes on using the gpshell script with other cards
Many of the magic numbers in the gpshell script depend on the card in use and on the applet that is uploaded. An AID is an applet-ID. The open_sc command has nothing to do with OpenSC, but opens a secure channel to the card. The parameters are the developer keys of the card. In our example, the key is used twice and the hex-bytes denote the string:

@ABCDEFGHIJKLMNO

The AID used for the secure channel is different for other brands of cards. I was able to find out this AID using the following AID gpshell script:

enable_trace
establish_context
card_connect
open_sc -security 1 -keyind 0 -keyver 0 
   -mac_key 404142434445464748494a4b4c4d4e4f 
   -enc_key 404142434445464748494a4b4c4d4e4f
get_status -element 80
card_disconnect
release_context

This displays for the Gemalto TOP IM FIPS CY2:


List of applets (AID state privileges)
a000000003000000        7       0

The delete commands remove older versions of the applet — there also was a version that had another applet ID — from the card before uploading the new version. Think of the applet living in a package named a000000001 and the applet named a00000000101. The install_for_load command establishes the package inside the a000000003000000 package. Then the install_for_install command installs the applet into non volatile memory after upload.
Note that these numbers are hard-coded into the applet that is being uploaded. This is defined during compile-time and for the MCardApplet this can be configured in the common.xml ant-file. When packaging the compiled java classes, the build process generates .cap files which contain the applet ID in binary format, notably the Applet.cap file contains the AID of the applet.
So if these numbers are changed when building a custom applet, be sure to adapt the upload commands, too. A warning here: All tools that depend on the MCardApplet expect the given AID, so changing the AID would incur a change of all tools or at least their configuration.

2.   OpenVPN Preparation: Step by step process with high-level tool
This section describes how to initialize a token, create a user key and certificate using tools that come with OpenVPN. This was only tested on Linux since the certificate handling scripts for OpenVPN are more advanced on Linux.
I had to patch the pkitool of OpenVPN to use the pkcs15-init command instead of the pkcs11-tool command for initializing the token and creating keys. The reason is that Aladdin limits their tokens to use one key for only one purpose (encryption or signing). The pkcs15-init command allows the specification of the key purpose while the pkcs11-tool command does not.
In the following we assume you are in the easy-rsa directory of OpenVPN, and you have initialized the configuration by reading the configuration in vars. It’s also always a good idea to have a backup of all the OpenVPN keys before starting.
Initializing the token for first use (or re-using an already formatted token) THIS DESTROYS ALL DATA ON THE TOKEN:


./pkitool --pkcs15-init 0 "Thomas Mustermann"
New User PIN.
Please enter User PIN:
Please type again to verify:
Unblock Code for New User PIN (Optional - press return for no PIN).
Please enter User unblocking PIN (PUK):
Please type again to verify:

If the token was already initialized, the procedure would also ask for the old password.
Now we can check that everything worked, by looking at the PINs:


pkcs15-tool --list-pins

Now we can proceed to generate a key pair and a certificate, this takes a long time:


./pkitool --pkcs15 /usr/lib/opensc-pkcs11.so 0 45 "user cert" client27

When everything went OK, we should be able to display keys, public keys, and certificates on the token:


pkcs15-tool --list-keys
pkcs15-tool --list-public-keys
pkcs15-tool --list-certificates

3.   What is needed for Windows
I’ve first installed the latest OpenVPN installer, only this package has the necessary TAP network driver for Linux. Only the TAP driver needs to be installed.
I’ve used a compiled version of OpenVPN that comes bundled with OpenSC from the binary windows repository, I’ve used the latest

opensc-i686-w32-mingw32-007-*.*

files (from Oct 2009). For 64bit Windows (AMD64) the


opensc-x86_64-pc-mingw32-003*.*

files should be used. Everything unpacked from these files should be installed to


C:ProgramsOpenVPN

I’ve also created a configuration directory under that directory called config. In config there are the necessary certificates (root ca) and hash keys and the client.ovpn configuration file.
When using my OpenVPN admin script, Python for windows from python.org and the Python WIN32 package are needed. In addition my rsclib library needs to be installed. For installing rsclib, unpack the .zip file and run:

setup.py install

from a command prompt. The admin script in pyovpn.zip has the same installation procedure.
After installing everything, basic working of the smart card can be verified with the OpenSC tools:


opensc-tool -l
cardos-info
pkcs15-tool --list-certificates

3.1.   Aladdin Token
For using the Aladdin eToken with Windows, the smart card tools of the manufacturer have to be installed — these include the driver for accessing the tokens. I’ve used:


PKIClient-x32-5.00.msi

from


eToken PKI Client 5.0 SP1 Windowsx32.zip

3.2.   Gemalto USB Shell Token V2
The driver for the Gemalto USB Shell Token reader can be downloaded free of charge from the Gemalto website.

4.   Using OpenVPN with SmartCard
OpenVPN uses a PKCS#11 provider library, on Debian this is /usr/lib/opensc-pkcs11.so, to access the smart card. We can show which certificates are on the card by issuing:

openvpn --show-pkcs11-ids /usr/lib/opensc-pkcs11.so
The following objects are available for use.
Each object shown below may be used as parameter to
--pkcs11-id option please remember to use single quote mark.

Certificate
      DN:             /C=AT/ST=AT/L=Weidling/ ...
      Serial:         03
      Serialized id:  OpenSCx20Project/PKCSx20 ...

Now OpenVPN can be started with the smartcard. I’m using the following additional config entries for OpenVPN — pkcs11-providers is set to the path of the PKCS#11 provider library:

pkcs11-providers "/usr/lib/opensc-pkcs11.so"
pkcs11-id-management
management 127.0.0.1 4711
management-query-passwords
management-hold

For Windows the provider library becomes (assuming the OpenSC tools where installed to C:ProgramsOpenVPNbin):


pkcs11-providers "C:\Programs\OpenVPN\bin\opensc-pkcs11.dll"

The other parameters are the same as for other operating systems.
Note also that the askpass option of OpenVPN does not work for querying the token password. In my experiment I had to give the token password to OpenVPN via the management interface using the config option management-query-passwords.
This configuration tells OpenVPN to open the management interface on Port 4711 of localhost. It will ask for the passphrase of the Aladdin token on that port. Additionally we wait (management-hold) until a management program has opened the management interface and told OpenVPN to proceed.
The pkcs11-id-management tells OpenVPN to accept the pkcs11-id to use via the management interface. With a little intelligence in the management interface we can avoid having the pkcs11-id in the configuration file (which would then be different for each user).
OpenVPN can be asked via the management interface about a listing of all pkcs11-ids. If there is only one certificate on the card, we feed the id of the only certificate back to OpenVPN when it asks about the pkcs11-id. This can be done without user intervention.
Unfortunately the feature that OpenVPN can ask the smartcard for all the certificates depends on the Token being present when OpenVPN is started. An alternative is to specify the pkcs11-id` directly in the configuration file. If this is specified, the management interface will ask for the token if it isn’t present when starting OpenVPN. The parameter to the pkcs11-id config parameter is the Serialized id from the command output above.
Since I have not found any graphical user interface programs for OpenVPN that can deal with asking the user for the token passphrase, I’ve written a little command-line python script which can be run on both, Windows and Linux, and will ask the user to insert the token and specify the token passphrase.
OpenVPN can be started with the script by issuing the command:


pyovpn

in a command prompt window. The command will start openvpn and proceed to ask for necessary token passwords.

4.1.   Low-level usage of the management interface
With the management-query-passwords option, OpenVPN will ask the password from the management interface. After starting the OpenVPN daemon and connnecting to the managment interface on the defined port (e.g., using telnet) we see the following message:

>INFO:OpenVPN Management Interface Version 1 -- type 'help' for more info
>PASSWORD:Need 'OpenSC Card (New User) token' password

The password can then be entered using the password command of the managment interface:


password 'OpenSC Card (New User) token' sehrgeheimespasswort

OpenVPN answers with:


SUCCESS: 'OpenSC Card (New User) token' password entered, but not yet verified

5.   Key Revocation
Revoke a certificate:


openssl ca  -config $KEY_CONFIG -revoke keys/02.pem

(re-) generate key revocation list (CRL):


openssl ca  -config $KEY_CONFIG -gencrl -out keys/crl.pem

6.   OpenVPN Preparation: Step by step process with low-level tools
This section describes the low-level tools as used by the patched pkitool from OpenVPN. It does not create a certificate with OpenSSL. This is for documentation purposes only (to understand what goes on behind the scenes) and was my first approach to getting started with OpenSC.

  • Erase the card — if you already have a Security Officer PIN installed, you need this for erasing the card:
    
    pkcs15-init -E
    
  • Create PKCS#15 structure (option –no-so-pin specified not to create security officer PIN and user PUK) on the card — note that the keys need to be between 6 and 8 characters long and should be numeric if you intend to use a keypad for key-entry (which applies mostly to smartcards not to USB tokens). Also note that if you omit –no-so-pin you should keep the Security Officer PIN secure — only with it can the token be re-formatted:
    
    pkcs15-init --create-pkcs15 --no-so-pin
    
    New Security Officer PIN (Optional - press return for no PIN).
    Please enter Security Officer PIN:
    Please type again to verify:
    Unblock Code for New User PIN (Optional - press return for no PIN).
    Please enter User unblocking PIN (PUK):
    Please type again to verify:
    
  • The steps above can be rolled into one command:
    
    pkcs15-init -E --create-pkcs15 --no-so-pin
    
  • Add an authentication (user) ID to the token with corresponding PIN and PUK:
    
    pkcs15-init --store-pin --auth-id 01 --label "User Name"
    
    New User PIN.
    Please enter User PIN:
    Please type again to verify:
    Unblock Code for New User PIN (Optional - press return for no PIN).
    Please enter User unblocking PIN (PUK):
    Please type again to verify:
    
  • Check that everything worked, by looking at the PINs:
    
    pkcs15-tool --list-pins
    
    PIN [Security Officer PIN]
        Com. Flags: 0x3
        ID        : ff
        Flags     : [0xB2], local, initialized, needs-padding, soPin
        Length    : min_len:6, max_len:8, stored_len:8
        Pad char  : 0x00
        Reference : 1
        Type      : ascii-numeric
        Path      : 3f005015
    
    PIN [User Name]
        Com. Flags: 0x3
        ID        : 01
        Flags     : [0x32], local, initialized, needs-padding
        Length    : min_len:4, max_len:8, stored_len:8
        Pad char  : 0x00
        Reference : 3
        Type      : ascii-numeric
        Path      : 3f005015
    
  • Now we can generate an RSA key on the card. Note that we could also import a PKCS-12 key onto the card, but the more secure option is to let the card generate the key (so the key will never be available outside the card). The split-key option actually generates two key-pairs, one for encryption and one for signing. There are some labelling options to attach names to the generated keys but these aren’t needed if you want only one key. You could specify an application profile with the –id option, if this isn’t given the default ID 45 (authentication purposes) is used. The command will ask for the Security officer PIN, then for the User PIN, then again for the Security officer PIN (!):
    
    pkcs15-init --generate-key rsa/2048 --auth-id 01 --split-key
    

    Note that with Java smartcards the keysize 2048 might not work with the current version of the tools, see Some notes on key sizes.

  • Now we can verify that the key was actually stored on the card:
    
    pkcs15-tool --list-keys
    
    Private RSA Key [Private Key]
        Com. Flags  : 3
        Usage       : [0x4], sign
        Access Flags: [0x1D], sensitive, alwaysSensitive, neverExtract, local
        ModLength   : 2048
        Key ref     : 16
        Native      : yes
        Path        : 3f005015
        Auth ID     : 01
        ID          : 45
    
  • List public keys:
    
    pkcs15-tool --list-public-keys
    
    Public RSA Key [Public Key]
        Com. Flags  : 2
        Usage       : [0x4], sign
        Access Flags: [0x0]
        ModLength   : 2048
        Key ref     : 0
        Native      : no
        Path        : 3f0050153048
        Auth ID     :
        ID          : 45
    
  • For the following steps we will need a minimum openssl config file:
    
    openssl_conf            = openssl_init
    
    [ openssl_init ]
    engines                 = engine_section
    
    [ req ]
    default_bits            = 2048
    default_keyfile         = privkey.pem
    distinguished_name      = req_distinguished_name
    
    [ req_distinguished_name ]
    countryName                     = Country Name (2 letter code)
    countryName_default             = AT
    countryName_min                 = 2
    countryName_max                 = 2
    stateOrProvinceName             = State or Province Name (full name)
    stateOrProvinceName_default     = Austria
    localityName                    = Locality Name (eg, city)
    localityName_default            = Vienna
    0.organizationName              = Organization Name (eg, company)
    0.organizationName_default      = example.com
    organizationalUnitName          = Organizational Unit Name (eg, section)
    organizationalUnitName_default  = IT-Department
    commonName                      = Common Name (eg, server's hostname)
    commonName_max                  = 64
    emailAddress                    = Email Address
    emailAddress_max                = 40
    
    [ engine_section ]
    pkcs11 = pkcs11_section
    
    [ pkcs11_section ]
    engine_id = pkcs11
    dynamic_path = /usr/lib/engines/engine_pkcs11.so
    MODULE_PATH = /usr/lib/opensc-pkcs11.so
    init = 0
    
  • Generate a certificate request (CSR) from this key using openssl:
    
    CLIENT=newclient
    openssl req -days 3650 -new -out $CLIENT.csr -config openssl.cnf 
      -engine pkcs11 -keyform engine -key 0:45 -sha1
    

    This will ask for all the certificate parameters. Alternatively these can be specified using the -subj option of openssl (this is broken into several lines but should be assembled into one line) with the following parameter:

    /C=AT/ST=Austria/L=Vienna/O=example.com/OU=IT-Department
    /CN=$CLIENT/emailAddress=user@example.com
    
  • You can view the contents of the CSR using:
    
    openssl req -in $CLIENT.csr -noout -text
    
  • Now sign the certificate request with whatever tools you are using. With the pkitool of OpenVPN this would become (after having copied the certificate request newclient.csr to the keys directory):
    
    pkitool --sign newclient
    

    The message about not being able to access newclient.key can be ignored.

  • You may want to delete old certificates from the token:
    
    pkcs15-init --delete-objects cert --id=45
    
  • Then import the new certificate onto the token:
    
    pkcs15-init --store-certificate newclient.crt --id=45
    
  • Reading a certificate from the token and output with openssl:
    
    pkcs15-tool --read-certificate 45 | openssl x509 -noout -text
    


6.1.   Some notes on key sizes
Using 2048 bit keys should generally be possible with newer cards. I had some problems with these key sizes using my Java smartcard, though.
After uploading the applet to the card, it is possible to create a key with either 1024 or 2048 bit. This indicates that the card is able to handle the large keysize. When trying to generate a CSR using openssl the command failed with:

[opensc-pkcs11] iso7816.c:99:iso7816_check_sw: No precise diagnosis
[opensc-pkcs11] muscle.c:745:msc_compute_crypt_process: returning with:
                Card command failed
[opensc-pkcs11] muscle.c:840:msc_compute_crypt: returning with:
                Card command failed
[opensc-pkcs11] card-muscle.c:749:muscle_compute_signature:
                Card signature failed: Card command failed
[opensc-pkcs11] sec.c:53:sc_compute_signature: returning with:
                Card command failed
[opensc-pkcs11] pkcs15-sec.c:273:sc_pkcs15_compute_signature:
                sc_compute_signature() failed: Card command failed
20808:error:0E06D06C:configuration file routines:NCONF_get_string:no value:
conf_lib.c:329:group=req_attributes name=unstructuredName_min
20808:error:0E06D06C:configuration file routines:NCONF_get_string:no value:
conf_lib.c:329:group=req_attributes name=unstructuredName_max
20808:error:8000A005:Vendor defined:PKCS11_rsa_sign:General Error:
p11_ops.c:97:
20808:error:0D0C3006:asn1 encoding routines:ASN1_item_sign:EVP lib:
a_sign.c:276:

Worse, after reinitializing the card in this state with:


pkcs15-init -E --create-pkcs15 --no-so-pin
pkcs15-init --store-pin --auth-id 01 --label "User Name"

and trying to generate a smaller key, this fails with:


pkcs15-init --generate-key rsa/1024 --auth-id 01 --split-key
[pkcs15-init] iso7816.c:102:iso7816_check_sw: Unknown SWs; SW1=9C, SW2=03
[pkcs15-init] muscle.c:557:msc_generate_keypair: returning with:
              Card command failed
[pkcs15-init] card.c:678:sc_card_ctl: returning with:
              Card command failed
[pkcs15-init] pkcs15-muscle.c:272:muscle_generate_key:
              Unable to generate key
[pkcs15-init] pkcs15-muscle.c:273:muscle_generate_key: returning with:
              Card command failed
Failed to generate key: Card command failed

I was able to fix this by re-downloading the applet onto the card. This also happens the other way round, when generating a 1024 bit key first and trying — after reinitializing the card with pkcs15-init — to generate a 2048 bit key.
So I recommend to stick with 1024 bit keys with the current software versions (debian lenny).

Cloud computing, Vendor Lock-In and the Future

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Cloud Computing is becoming increasingly popular — and it is a danger to your freedom. But we can do something about it.
First, when the term Cloud Computing was introduced, it meant a set of low-level services like virtual machines, databases and file storage. Examples of these are Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud and related services. Since these services are quite low-level, they can be replicated by others, an example is the Eucalyptus project.
This means if you aren’t satisfied with the service one cloud computing provider offers, you either can change the provider or — e.g., using Eucalyptus — roll your own.
But increasingly cloud-computing is a relaunch of the old Software as a Service paradigm under a new name. This means that applications like Textprocessing, Spreadsheets, Wiki, Blog, Voice and Video over IP, collaboration software in general is made available as so-called “Web 2.0″ applications — now called “Cloud Applications” on the web.
When using these services, there is a severe risk of Vendor Lock-In — since the applications may not be available elsewhere, you cannot easily switch the provider. Worse: From some of the Web 2.0 Services like social networks (e.g., Xing, LinkedIn, Facebook) you can’t retrieve your own data. Xing for example has a “mobile export” for data, but this works only for paying customers and only exports address data.
And people have started to realize — e.g., in this facebook group — that multiple incompatible applications — escpecially in the social network sector — puts a large burdon on customers to update multiple personal profiles on multiple sites.
But although it has been noted by the Free Software and Open Source community (e.g., in an interview with Richard Stallman and by Eric S. Raymond in his blog) it has not been widely recognized that cloud computing or software as a service — in particular in the form called “Web 2.0″ — creates a vendor lock-in worse than for proprietary software.
For your social networks this may mean that when you retrieve your data (remember, you helped them build that data!), the social network may throw you out as it happened in that case mentioned by Henry Story and later updated here.
The solution to this problem? Don’t get trapped in a data silo. This may still mean that there can be software as a service offerings. But the software needs to be free (as in free speech). So we can still switch to another provider or decide to host our own service.
But companies won’t do it for us. As Doc Searls notes in Silos End: “These problems cannot be solved by the companies themselves. Companies make silos. It’s as simple as that. Left to their own devices, that’s what they do. Over and over and over again.”
So this can only change if customers make and demand the change. A good rule-of-thumb for software as a service is on the page of the Open Cloud Initiative in the article The four degrees of cloud computing openness. While being a customer of a closed/proprietary cloud with “no access” is clearly a bad idea, open APIs and formats don’t work too well — you don’t have the software to work with your data. So the only valid options that remain are Open APIs, Open Formats and Open Source, and in some cases Open Data.
Still most web applications — like most social network software — are of the completely closed type. There are no open formats and no open APIs. So check your dependencies: What web-applications are you depending on and what is their degree of cloud computing openness?
A word on the license to guarantee openness in cloud-computing. As mentioned in the above-cited interview with Richard Stallman, the GNU General Public License is not enough to keep software in a cloud open. The cloud provider could take the software, make own modifications (which you will depend upon) and not release the modified software to you as a customer. Again you have a vendor lock-in. To prevent this, the GNU Affero General Public License has been designed that prevents closed-source modifications to hosted applications.
Finally, for all sorts of social software — not just social network software but everything that creates more value for more people, usually by linking information — should follow a distributed peer-to-peer approach. We don’t want this data to be a siloed application hosted by a single company. And if there are multiple companies hosting the data we already see the problem with multiple social network providers.
So we need standards and distributed protocols. And the implementation should follow a peer-to-peer approach — like seen in filesharing applications today — to make it resilient to failure and/or take-down orders of hostile bodies (like, e.g., some governments). Lets call this “Web 3.0″.
Examples of such social software are of course the social network sector. We already have a distributed protocol for social networking based on the Friend of a Friend Semantic Web Ontology. With this approach everyone can publish his social networking data and still be in control of who can see what. And the data is under user-control, so it’s possible to remove something.
Another example of social software is probably Money (in the sense of micro- or macro payments in the net). Thomas Greco in the book The End of Money and the Future of Civilization asks for separation of money and the state. A future implementation of money may well be based on a peer-to-peer social software implementation.
These social software needs security solutions. We want to model trust-relationships. Parts of the puzzle are probably OpenID and a newly-proposed scheme by Henry Story called FOAF+SSL mainly used for social networking 3.0 but probably very useful for other social software solutions.
So lets work on solutions for the future.

Warum ich nicht mit Skype telefoniere

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Nachdem ich immer mal wieder gefragt werde, was meine Skype-ID sei, hier meine Gründe, warum ich Skype nicht verwende:

Die Firma Skype hat früher Peer-to-Peer Filesharing-Software hergestellt (mit dem Namen "KaZaA"), Filesharing-Programme dienen zum Tauschen von Musik und anderen elektronischen Inhalten. Diese Software hat nachgewiesenermassen sogenannte “Spyware” enthalten (vgl. auch diverse Tips, wie man diese ausschalten können soll). Unter Spyware verstehen wir Programme, die unbemerkt vom Eigentümer eines Rechners diesen Rechner ausspioniert und die ausspionierten Daten via Internet an den Programmierer der Spyware schickt. Zu den ausspionierten Daten zählen Statistiken über das Besuchen von Websites bis zu Passwörtern. Was genau die von der KaZaA Spyware ausspionierten Daten sind entzieht sich meiner Kenntnis. Ich vertraue solchen Leuten meine Telefongespräche nicht an.

Es gibt eine unabhängige Analysen von Skype 2005 und 2006, nach der in der analysierten Skype-Version keine Hinweise auf Spyware gefunden wurden. Das kannn sich inzwischen geändert haben und diese Analyse sagt nichts über die Sicherheit von Skype aus:

Skype (und vorher schon KaZaA) enthalten Mechanismen, um automatisch neue Software-Versionen (teilweise ohne Wissen oder sogar Zustimmung des Benutzers) zu installieren. In einer solchen neuen Version könnte Spyware enthalten sein — oder auch nur eine Software-Fehler der vorher nicht enthalten war. Damit ist man den Herstellern der Software ausgeliefert, da es unter der Kontrolle von Skype ist, was in neuen Versionen enthalten sein wird. Man könnte auch sagen: Nach Installation von Skype gehört Dir Dein Computer nicht mehr.

Dann wird immer wieder behauptet, die Kommunikation mit Skype sei verschlüsselt. Das mag ja stimmen. Der Grund ist aber wohl nicht die Privatsphäre des Nutzers, sondern die Absicht, zu verhindern, dass andere Software schreiben, die das Skype-Protokoll spricht. Denn was nützt mir die Verschlüsselung wenn ich nicht weiss, wer den Schlüssel besitzt? Der Benutzer von Skype besitzt den Schlüssel jedenfalls nicht.

Zum Abhören hat Kurt Sauer, Leiter der Sicherheitsabteilung von Skype, auf die durch ZDNet gestellte Frage, ob Skype die Gespräche abhören könne, ausweichend geantwortet: "Wir stellen eine sichere Kommunikationsmöglichkeit zur Verfügung. Ich werde Ihnen nicht sagen, ob wir dabei zuhören können oder nicht." (vgl. den Artikel in der deutschen Wikipedia dazu bzw. direkt das ZDNET-Interview.

Hinzu kommt, dass sich Skype an keinerlei etablierte Standards im Bereich der Sprachkommunikation über Internet-Protokolle hält, ja wie Skype genau funktioniert ist nicht offengelegt, es kann also keine andere Firma derzeit Programme bauen, die mit Skype-Software zusammen funktioniert. Solche "Closed Source" Programme fördern Monopolstellungen und sind — ähnlich wie z.B. Monopolstellungen im Bereich von Nahrungsmitteln wie Genmais von Monsanto — mit erhöhter Wachsamkeit zur Kenntnis zu nehmen. Die etablierten Standards im Bereich der Sprachkommunikation stehen Punkto Sprachqualität u.a. Skype in nichts nach.

Skype hat — aus seiner Peer-to-Peer Vergangenheit — Mechanismen um durch Firewalls zu "tunneln". Diese Techniken, auch als "Firewall Piercing" bekannt, sind für die Sicherheit einer Firma gefährlich, oder wie humorvoll von einem Kollegen formuliert: "Firewall Piercings können sich entzünden und eitern".

Es gibt etablierte Standards zur Sprachkommunikation wie z.B. SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) für den Verbindungsaufbau. Es gibt Open Source Implementierungen für "Softphones", das sind — ähnlich wie Skype — Programme mit welchen über einen Computer telefoniert werden kann. Ein Beispiel ist Qutecom (früher "Wengo Phone"), eine Suche nach "Softphone" in Google sollte noch einige andere zutage fördern. Es gibt natürlich auch kommerzielle Anbieter solcher Programme (teilweise als Closed Source), der Knackpunkt liegt in einem gemeinsamen Protokoll bei dem alle mitmachen können. Es gibt inzwischen auch "Hard" phones, also ein Ding was wie ein Telefon aussieht, aber hinten einen Ethernet-Anschluss hat und SIP spricht. Sehr preiswert ist das Budgetone von Grandstream, ein weiterer Anbieter ist z.B. Snom und Cisco hat einige kleinere Anbieter wie Sipura gekauft.

Ich habe selbst keine grosse Erfahrungen mit solchen Softphones auf Windows oder MAC Plattformen. Für Erfahrungsberichte bin ich dankbar.

Dann gibt es Anbieter, die Vermittlungstätigkeiten für solche Softphones anbieten. Ein Beispiel ist sipgate, andere finden sich auf voip-info.org. Man meldet sich dort an, kann gratis mit anderen Softphones über das Internet telefonieren, bekommt bei einigen Anbietern sogar kostenlos eine Telefonnummer über die man vom Festnetz aus angerufen werden kann. Das "Businessmodell" dieser Anbieter sind Anrufe vom Internet ins Festnetz. Die kosten dann etwas, sind aber immer noch deutlich günstiger als z.B. die Telekom in Deutschland oder Österreich.

Ein weiterer SIP-Dienst ist ekiga.net vom Team des gleichnamigen Open Source Soft-Phones Ekiga, ich bin dort z.B. als rsc@ekiga.net erreichbar.

Ausserdem ist ein öffentlicher Verzeichnisdienst ENUM im Aufbau, wo man seine eigene Telefonnummer weiterverwenden kann. Damit wird es in Zukunft möglich sein, einfach eine Telefonnummer einzugeben und über das Internet den gewünschten Teilnehmer zu erreichen.

Inzwischen gibt es auch eine Open Source Telefonanlage, Asterisk. Asterisk kann sowohl ans Festnetz (ISDN aber auch eine analoge Leitung) angeschlossen werden, als auch an Internet-Telefonie mit verschiedenen Standards (SIP, IAX, H323) teilnehmen. Die Telefon-Software läuft auf einem ganz normalen handelsüblichen PC — Modelle mit niedrigem Stromverbrauch sind zu empfehlen, da ja eine Telefonanlage Tag und Nacht in Betrieb sein soll. Asterisk "spricht" bereits heute ENUM. Ausserdem kann man über Einsteckkarten ganz normale "analoge" Telefonapparate anschliessen. Dann kann man verschiedene SIP-Anbieter gleichzeitig und einen Festnetzanschluss an der selben Telefonanlage betreiben und mit einem ganz normalen Analogtelefon, oder auch mit einem Komfort-ISDN-Telefon, einem Hard-Phone (z.B. Snom), oder einfach mit einem Softphone — telefonieren. Man kann die Telefonanlage suchen lassen, ob ein bestimmter Teilnehmer über das Internet erreichbar ist oder nur über das Festnetz. Der Anrufende muss nicht mal merken ob über Festnetz oder Internet telefoniert wird.

Das geniale an Asterisk (und das Erfolgsrezept von vielen anderen Open Source Projekten) ist sein modularer Aufbau: Für verschiedene anzuschliessende Geräte oder Protokolle kann man einen "Channel Treiber" schreiben und Asterisk kann danach mit einem neuen Gerät kommunizieren. So kann ein Spezialist für ein bestimmtes Gerät oder Protokoll einen neuen Gerätetreiber beitragen.

Man kann Asterisk-Telefonanlagen miteinander vernetzen — auch über eine verschlüsselte Verbindung über das Internet, ein sogenanntes "Virtual Private Network" (VPN). Dann kann man telefonieren ohne dass Dritte die Verbindung abhören können — eine solche Installation setzt allerdings Absprachen zwischen den Betreibern der zu vernetzenden Telefonanlagen voraus.

Neuere Techniken erlauben, vorhandene SIP-Infrastruktur zu benutzen und trotzdem ohne vorherige Absprache verschlüsselt zu telefonieren. Der Schlüssel wird dabei direkt zwischen den beiden Teilnehmern ausgehandelt. Philip Zimmermann, der Autor von PGP, hat dafür den Standard ZRTP vorgeschlagen, der inzwischen bei der Internet Engineering Task-Force (dem Gremium das Internet-Standards macht) zur Standardisierung eingereicht ist.

Ich selbst verwende Asterisk seit einigen Jahren statt meiner alten ISDN-Telefonanlage.

E-voting

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Yesterday there was an interesting talk on e-voting @metalab by Goesta Smekal. In the discussion, the audience mostly agreed that e-voting shouldn’t be used because we can never be sure that a machine isn’t modified to do something different from correctly counting votes.

That there may be an incentive to win an election by cheating was pointed out by Bruce Schneier in “Stealing an election” in a 2004 Cryptogram newsletter. Now it’s an old hat that it is possible to hide rogue code that won’t be found by inspecting the source-code since in 1984 Ken Thompson published the computer science classic Reflections on Trusting Trust. Recently it has even been possible for researchers to build malicious hardware — with the budget of a university research lab. Open Source in this case is not an answer to the problem: We can’t be sure that the machine is running our software.

So the question is really: How can each voter be sure that the election is carried out correctly. For inspecting a voting machine — even if this would be theoretically possible and the papers cited above indicate that it’s probably not possible — we need an expert — who can be bribed. With paper ballots an untrained observer can convince himself that the election process is correct. Attacks on the system come at high costs and are detectable with a high probability. So let’s stick to the proven distributed algorithm of casting paper ballots.


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