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Re: [Dailydave] Re: Hacking's American as Apple Cider
Date: Wed Sep 21 2005 - 10:54:16 CDT
On 20 Sep 2005 at 19:38, Marcus J. Ranum wrote:
> pageexecfreemail.hu wrote:
> >i thought it was pretty obvious as we have an analog situation with
> >cryptography. and you are not advocating a worldwide ban on public
> >crypto research and development, are you?
> Like most analogies, it fails if you pull it far enough.
let's see if it really does ;-).
> The idea of making cryptographic designs public is because it has been
> determined that it's fruitless to try to keep them secret.
has it? the german gov has developed a block cipher called LIBELLE,
i don't remember having ever seen it discussed in public, maybe you
have? and it's being used to encrypt NATO-SECRET and german STRENG
GEHEIM level info as we are speaking. much like we still have sw
vendors who believe in keeping their source private, in part hoping
that their code will be less analyzed and exploited.
on the other hand, we can see that public crypto research has
resulted in a few quite resistant algos, much like hacking on open
source systems has improved their security a lot. in both cases
the same kind of processes led to the same consequences.
> So it's easier to start off with them public because it lowers the
> barrier for an expert to get involved in analyzing them.
s/start off with them public/publish the source code/ and it's
still true - the analogy works just perfectly.
> But the important difference between crypto research and hacking
> is that it's rare that a new crypto discovery is going to suddenly
> make a vast number of users become vulnerable.
i think you're comparing apples to oranges. the analogy of crypto
research (discovery and disclosure) in hacking is not "unleash a
worm on the unsuspecting internet". rather, it's "look for and
publish the vulnerability".
now, users don't become vulnerable because of disclosure (i know
that the 'responsible' disclosure guys like to mislead the public
with that, no idea why you picked up their line...), they become
vulnerable by running buggy apps (or using weak crypto in the
whether the public at large is aware of the bugs or not is a
'quantity' issue, not that of 'quality'. and once you get owned,
you don't really care if there was this ueber secret agency
that did it or the whole world could have done it, you were
vulnerable and had to learn it the hard way.
so no, there's no such difference between crypto and hacking,
in either case public disclosure of a flaw doesn't change the
fact that something was vulnerable/weak, it only makes the
users aware of the fact.
let's also look at the orange side. what happens after disclosure?
according to you, there would be a difference between crypto and
hacking. i state (again) that there isn't any qualitative difference,
there's only a quantitative one, if at all (which is not enough to
invalidate an analogy).
even the quantitative difference is questionable. i guess when you
talked about 'vast number of users' you were probably thinking of
the millions of Windows boxes owned by the worm/backdoor/etc du jour.
what do you think about the break of WEP of a few years ago? didn't
that also expose (and still does) 'vast number of users'? see, crypto
research and disclosure can cause just as many problems as hacking.
you're probably thinking now that this is just the 'rare' case and
doesn't invalidate your point. well, it does because 'rare' is a
relative term and you're again comparing apples to oranges. i hope
we agree that:
1. our crypto knowledge is much more evolved than our 'how to write
bugfree code' knowledge (even today, let alone a few years ago)
2. we have much more (internet exposed) sw deployed than crypto algos
(i mean the kinds of sw/algos, not the boxes that run them)
as a consequence we're much more likely to deploy buggy apps than
we are to deploy flawed crypto. it will take many more years (i'm
being optimistic probably) until sw development catches up with
where crypto stands today. so the fact that serious crypto flaws are
rare is not because crypto is somehow fundamentally different from
finding/exploiting sw flaws, but because they're at different stages
the other reason for this perception is that the internet makes it
a lot easier to connect victims and attackers, whereas with crypto
you need access to ciphertext, something that's often not as readily
available as an internet connection (although wardrivers would
disagree with that). and i say this with a certain uneasyness as i
don't actually know how long the MD5 weaknesses have been known to
and potentially exploited by certain people, so maybe we actually
have (or will have) a full quantitative analogy as well, we just
haven't seen it on the news yet.
anyway, i'm sure that were someone to figure out a polinom time
complexity integer factorization algo, half the world would be
up in arms to prevent its disclosure due to the disruption it
would cause (the other half favouring full and open discussion).
in short, i don't see any difference here with respect to hacking
related disclosures and consequences.
> And, lastly, you neglect to mention that most of the interesting
> code-breaks in history were kept secret by the discoverers for
> quite some time.
how's hacking different? let me guess, you don't know what a 0-day
is. or want to forget about it, like the 'responsible' disclosure
people like to do (because it invalidates their arguments).
> Indeed, most of the interesting research in
> code-making was kept secret by the discoverers for quite some
> time. You still don't know how Type-1 crypto works, and if you
> do, you'll just smile and nod. :)
is it any better than LIBELLE? i'm all ears ;-)
> > in both hacking and crypto
> >we're finding and exposing flaws in someone's thinking (or lack thereof,
> >as it is often the case), and i don't see why that'd be the dumbest
> >idea. unless you want to live in a dumb world, that is.
> Your analogy fails because you're talking about popular myths,
> not reality.
heh, careful with those ex cathedra statements.
> Yes, there is an active community that is doing public
> cryptographic research and they do it openly. They are just
> a pale shadow of the classified research that goes on and
> has been going on for a lot longer.
first of all, how do you *know* that they're only a pale shadow
of classified research? i mean, below you state that you don't
*know* whether classified hacking research even exists let alone
what they have achieved, how can you *know* then the same about
crypto? something tells me that you can't have it both ways.
second, what makes you think that academic 'hacking research' is
not a pale shadow of what you find in the underground? see, in
both worlds (crypto/hacking) you have people who do research
(exposing flaws in someone else's thinking) and in both worlds
some of these findings see the light of the day, some don't.
where's the difference again?
> I actually hope that your analogy is NOT good - that there are no
> deeply classified hacking research groups inside various national
> intelligence forces.
methinks you're living in your own myth here. of course many
countries run such programs under various disguises (and i 'know'
this as much as you 'know' the same about crypto ;-), it's in
their very interest to stay informed and in control in cyberspace
(nothing different from crypto, i might add). moreover, non-public
hacking research has traditionally not been restricted to state
[snipped long explanation as i didn't see what was pointed out
as the difference between hacking/crypto, feel free to restate
it in other terms i can understand.]
> >on the 'default permit' issue: it is not the dumbest idea, it is the
> >only way that can scale in systems. take a (not exactly big by any
> >measure) company with 1000 users and 1000 executable files that these
> >users need. that's an access control matrix with a million elements.
> You're assuming an enterprise with 1000 users each of which has
> a 1000 individual executable load-out? That'd be dumber than dumb.
i guess you made the same mistake as another poster, please check
for the explanation of 'executable files'. and the question about
a+x stands too ;-).