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Survey: Trust in certificates 'near breaking point'

Maria Korolov | March 12, 2015
InfoSec pros believe that trust in keys and certificates is in jeopardy.

Enterprises would be faced with not just updating all their encryption with longer keys, but going out and replacing all the keys and certificates already in use.

For example, there are still enterprises using MD5-signed digital certificates.

A couple of years ago, it was risky but reasonably acceptable -- the cost to crack one was $200,000 when using Amazon AWS. Today, that cost is down to 65 cents.

"MD5, if you're using them, is a clear and present danger to your business," said Bocek.

About 1 percent of the certificates out on the Internet are MD5 certificates, but within enterprises that number is as high as 20 percent, he said.

Majority of companies are using SHA-1, he added, and there are estimates that it could be possible to put together a system for a couple of hundred thousand dollars to crack it.

The recommendation today is to use SHA-2, which has hash values of 224 to 512 bits, compared to SHA-1's 160 bits.

So far, there have been no demonstrations of SHA-2 decryption, Bocek said. "And that's a good thing."

But that doesn't mean that some smart mathematicians won't come up with something in the future, he added.

The combination of increased computation power and clever new attack strategies that could bring about the cryptocalypse, he said.

"We're facing a bit of an arms race," he said.

According to the respondents, an attack based on cryptographic exploits would cost an average of $114 million per enterprise.

It came in second, after $126 million impact for an attack based on enterprise mobility certificates.

However, when the probability of attack was factored in, respondents put the total risk of a cryptographic attack at $22 million, and mobility at $11 million.

The total risk of key and certificate-based attacks was $53 million per organization -- up 51 percent from 2013.


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