Time to make you secure from FREAK Vulnerability

Pierluigi Paganini March 06, 2015

FREAK, a new major security flaw that left users of Apple and Google devices exposed to MITM attack while visiting supposedly secure Websites.

Few days back security researchers group (named as SMACK ) made everyone aware of a new SSL/TLS vulnerability, termed as FREAK (CVE-2015-0204). FREAK stands for Factoring Attack on RSA-EXPORT Keys. After POODLE, it is another catastrophic SSL/TLS vulnerability. FREAK vulnerability enables malicious attackers to do the MITM attack between the vulnerable clients and servers on encrypted channel. Attackers are forcefully making sure that vulnerable clients and servers must use older and weaker ‘Export-grade’ cryptography. This export-grade encryption uses 512-bit RSA keys. This export-grade encryption can be easily decrypted and it’s very easy to hamper its integrity.

ROOT of the problem:

In 1990s, the US government endeavored to direct the export of items using “robust” encryption and gadgets were stacked with weaker “export-grade” encryption before being dispatched out of the nation. Around then, it was permitted a most extreme key length of 512 bits for “export-grade” encryption. Later in 2000, due to an amendment in US export laws, merchants were allowed to incorporate 128-bit ciphers in their items and were able to disseminate these everywhere throughout the world. The main issue is that “export-grade” cryptography backings was never evacuated and now after three decades, FREAK vulnerability, anticipatively making it easier for hackers and malicious attackers to interpret the site’s private key and decode passwords, login, and other delicate data from HTTPS associations.

OK, now let me know how it works:

According to Professor Matthew Green, cryptographer and research professor at Johns Hopkins University, to understand the working of FREAK it’s necessary to understand working of MITM attack:

  1. In the client’s Hello message, client asks for a standard ‘RSA’ cipher suite from the server.
  2. The MITM attacker hamper the integrity of this message and changes this message to ask for ‘Export RSA’.
  3. The server responds to the client’s request with a 512-bit export RSA key, signed with its long-term key.
  4. The client accepts this weak key from the server due to the OpenSSL/ Secure Transport bug.
  5. The attacker factors the RSA modulus to recover the corresponding RSA decryption key.
  6. When the client encrypts the ‘pre-master secret’ to the server, the attacker can now decrypt it to recover the TLS ‘master secret’.
  7. From here on out, the attacker sees plain text and can inject anything it wants.

If only server is vulnerable, it’s not guarantee that the attack will be successful. For the attack to be successful, both browser and server must have to support Export-grade cipher suites..not guarantee that the attack will be successful. For the attack to be successful, both browser and server must have to support Export-grade cipher suites.

How to check whether you are safe from FREAK attack or not?

Everyone is not vulnerable to FREAK attack. To check whether your browser is vulnerable to this attack or not, visit www.freakattack.com. If your browser is safe from FREAK attack, then it will prompt a message, ‘Good News! Your browser appears to be safe from the FREAK Attack!’, else it will prompt a Warning message that your browser is vulnerable to CVE-2015-0204. Best way to make yourself free from this attack is to update your browser.


Is there any similarity between FREAK and POODLE?

POODLE vulnerability stands for ‘Padding Oracle on Downgraded Legacy Encryption’. It allows malicious attackers to lower down the SSL/TLS communication to the possible weakest version. FREAK is similar to POODLE in a way that it affects those SSL/TLS implementations that supports and accepts export versions of protocols that uses RSA algorithm.

APPLE and GOOGLE plans to tackle FREAK:

Apple is planning to introduce fixes for Safari on OS X and iOS next week. On the other hand Google has already handed over patch to the concerned ones. Google is also planning to make sure that all the websites must disable the support for export certificates.

HTTPS Sites that support RSA Export Suites:

According to Alexa Top 10K, following are the some websites that support RSA Export suites as of Tuesday, March 3, 9:00 PM EST. This list is quite long; you can go for the full list at suites as of Tuesday, March 3, 9:00 PM EST. This list is quite long; you can go for the full list at https://freakattack.com/vulnerable.txt .

Alexa Rank               Domain                                              Address Tested

27                                sohu.com                                 

182                              businessinsider.com                  

234                              ppomppu.co.kr                         

243                              smzdm.com                             

247                              americanexpress.com                

251                              jabong.com                              

273                              groupon.com                            

290                              bloomberg.com                         

442                              4shared.com                            

448                              npr.org                                      

519                              hatena.ne.jp                                                          

615                              instructables.com                      

629                              airtel.in                                                                          

649                              kohls.com                                

767                              adplxmd.com                           

795                              mit.edu                                    

799                              tinyurl.com                              

808                              suning.com                              

820                              saramin.co.kr                           

891                              vi-view.com                             

903                              itau.com.br                               

951                              huaban.com                             

959                              zomato.com                             

960                              nationalgeographic.com           

999                              marriott.com                            

1001                            jobrapido.com                          

1029                            forever21.com                          

1089                            wiocha.pl                                                                  

1150                            axisbank.com                           

1180                            clarin.com                                

1236                            mgid.com                                 

1247                            jcpenney.com                           

1261                            wowhead.com                                     

1297                            gaana.com                                

1313                            mtime.com                               

1360                            refinery29.com                         

1361                            vente-privee.com                      

1364                            ynet.co.il                                  

1383                            dhgate.com                              

1411                            vesti.ru                                                                                                  

1424                            adxcore.com                            

1456                            sweet-page.com                        

1484                            binaryprofessional.com            

1502                            globososo.com                          

1571                            estadao.com.br                         

1573                            jcrew.com                                

1586                            17173.com                               

1599                            bmi.ir                                                                                

1620                            zdnet.com                                

1646                            accountonline.com                   

1662                            umich.edu                                

1680                            cornell.edu                               

1684                            lg.com                                      

1693                            uludagsozluk.com                    

1722                            yixun.com                                

1738                            priceminister.com                     

1856                            ibtimes.co.uk                           

1860                            extra.com.br                             

1864                            jiameng.com                            

1866                            ihg.com                                    

1878                            miui.com                                  

1902                            syosetu.com                             

1915                            thrillist.com                              


About the Author

MANISH KUMAR MISHRA E-Mail: [email protected]

(ISO27001,C|EH v8 certified Information Security professional)
MS in Cyber Law and Information Security
Institute: Indian Institute Of Information Technology (IIIT)- Allahabad

Edited by Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  Drones, Privacy)

you might also like

leave a comment