Fuse Networks Blog

20-Year-Old Exploit Finds New Life as ROBOT

20-Year-Old Exploit Finds New Life as ROBOT

There is no shortage of threats on the Internet, from situational issues to deliberate attacks meant to damage your company or steal your valuable data. While new threats pop up almost every day, some have been around for some time--so long, that many seem to not consider them as viable threats.

This can be seen in many considerably-sized Internet companies, including the likes of Facebook and PayPal, which recently tested positive for a vulnerability discovered in 1998 that enabled encrypted data to be decrypted.

When it was first discovered by researcher Daniel Bleichenbacher, this exploit was found in the secure sockets layer, or SSL, encryptions that protected (and still protect) many web platforms and websites. The algorithm that powers the RSA encryption has a flaw that permits a hacker to decrypt ciphertext without the key. The error messages that the encryption presents give hackers enough information to crack it.

As it would happen, instead of eliminating and reworking the flawed RSA algorithm, the SSL architects at the time simply created workarounds to limit the error messages.

This crypto-vulnerability, codenamed “Oracle,” provides “yes” and “no” answers to queries. This means that cybercriminals can phrase their queries specifically enough to ultimately retrieve enough information to form a detailed picture of the encrypted contents. This method is referred to as an adaptive chosen-ciphertext attack.

Recently, researchers have discovered that this vulnerability can be found on over a quarter of the 200 most-visited websites on the Internet, and on around 2.8% of the top million. Naturally, this includes Facebook and PayPal.

Researchers explained the oversight of what is now being called ROBOT, or Return Of Bleichenbacher’s Oracle Threat, as the result of too much focus being directed towards new threats, and the older ones being neglected as a result. As they said in a blog post:

“The surprising fact is that our research was very straightforward. We used minor variations of the original attack and were successful. This issue was hiding in plain sight. This means neither the vendors of the affected products nor security researchers have investigated this before, although it's a very classic and well-known attack.”

These researchers sent their findings to vulnerable sites before going public so that a patch could be created.

Having a comprehensive understanding of the threats that are poised to damage your business will greatly help you keep it secured. We can help. For more information, reach out to Fuse Networks today at 855-GET-FUSE (438-3873).

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