[UNIX] Timing Attack on OpenSSL (OpenSSL Private Key Disclosure)

From: support@securiteam.com
Date: 03/17/03

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    Date: 17 Mar 2003 18:59:46 +0200

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      Timing Attack on OpenSSL (OpenSSL Private Key Disclosure)


    Researchers have discovered a timing attack on RSA keys, to which OpenSSL
    is generally vulnerable, unless RSA blinding has been turned on
    (Typically, it will not have been, because it is not easily possible to do
    so when using OpenSSL to provide SSL or TLS).


    Vulnerable systems:
     * OpenSSL v0.9.7a and 0.9.6i

    David Brumley and Dan Boneh, researchers at Stanford University, have
    written a paper that demonstrates practical attacks that can be used to
    extract private keys from vulnerable RSA decryption applications. Using
    statistical techniques and carefully measuring the amount of time required
    to complete an RSA decryption operation on known cyphertext, an attacker
    can recover one of the factors (q) of the RSA key. With the public key and
    the factor q, the attacker can compute the private key.

    Similar types of timing attacks are discussed in CERT Advisory CA-1998-07,
    a paper by Daniel Bleichenbacher et al., and a paper by Paul Kocher.

    The paper documents a set of experiments using widely available hardware
    to attack a simplified model of an SSL/TLS-enabled web server. The
    researchers were able to extract a 1024-bit RSA private key from the model
    RSA decryption server in approximately two hours. The attack requires
    ~350,000 samples, which to a web server may appear as network connections
    and failed attempts to set up SSL/TLS sessions. The experiments were
    conducted on a high-speed, closed network that does not accurately reflect
    the network conditions found on the Internet. The attacks could, however,
    be feasible on a network with a low variance in latency such as a LAN,
    corporate/campus network, or Internet2/Abilene. The attacks could also be
    feasible against production SSL-enabled web servers. The paper also notes
    that inter-process attacks against Virtual Machines (VM) running on the
    same physical computer could yield RSA secrets held by a trusted VM,
    violating the TCPA/Palladium security model.

    The paper discusses a defense called "RSA blinding" that introduces an
    additional random component to the decryption process and makes timing
    information unusable to attackers. It appears that many cryptographic
    libraries and applications that may use those libraries either do not
    implement RSA blinding or do not make use of it when it is available in
    the underlying libraries. RSA blinding does incur a moderate performance
    penalty. Although the OpenSSL library does implement RSA blinding, many
    applications that use OpenSSL, including Apache mod_ssl, do not use this
    feature, and are therefore vulnerable to timing attacks.

    A remote attacker could derive private RSA keys. It is important to note
    that the attacks described in this paper appear to be practical under
    certain conditions. In the case of remote attacks against SSL/TLS-enabled
    web servers, variance in network latency must be sufficiently low (> 1ms)
    and the load on the server must be accounted for by the attacker. A server
    may be vulnerable during a period of low activity. In the case of local
    inter-process attacks against a VM, or, all the necessary conditions
    exist. Any applications that perform RSA private key operations
    (decryption, signing) may be vulnerable: SSL/TLS-enabled network services,
    IPSec, Secure Shell (SSH), and smart cards are some examples of such

    Upgrade or Patch
    Upgrade or apply a patch as specified by your vendor. The preferred
    defense is to use RSA blinding, however other methods such as quantizing
    can be used to reduce or eliminate the information disclosed by timing.
    These defenses do incur performance penalties - 2-10% in the case of RSA
    blinding. In order to use RSA blinding to defend against these types of
    timing attacks, it is necessary for the underlying cryptographic library
    to support RSA blinding and for the application to make use of it.

    Use larger RSA keys
    At the present (February 2003), the attacks are practical against 1024-bit
    RSA keys.

    Monitor RSA decryption applications
    Monitor RSA key exchange applications for signs of attack. In the case of
    an attack against SSL/TLS web applications, logs may show a relatively
    high number of network connections and failed attempts to establish
    SSL/TLS sessions.

    Authenticate clients
    In the case of sensitive web applications, require clients to use strong
    authentication (X.509 client certificates). While this will not prevent
    attacks, it will limit and identify the possible sources of attacks.

    Apache Patch:
    The enclosed patch switches blinding on by default. Applications that wish
    to can remove the blinding with RSA_blinding_off(), but this is not
    generally advised. It is also possible to disable it completely by
    defining OPENSSL_NO_FORCE_RSA_BLINDING at compile-time.

    The performance impact of blinding appears to be small (a few percent).

    This problem affects many applications using OpenSSL, in particular,
    almost all SSL-enabled Apaches. You should rebuild and reinstall OpenSSL,
    and all affected applications.

    Apache.org strongly advise upgrading OpenSSL in all cases, as a

    Index: crypto/rsa/rsa_eay.c
    RCS file: /e/openssl/cvs/openssl/crypto/rsa/rsa_eay.c,v
    retrieving revision
    diff -u -r1.28.2.3 rsa_eay.c
    --- crypto/rsa/rsa_eay.c 30 Jan 2003 17:37:46 -0000
    +++ crypto/rsa/rsa_eay.c 16 Mar 2003 10:34:13 -0000
    @@ -195,6 +195,25 @@
    +static int rsa_eay_blinding(RSA *rsa, BN_CTX *ctx)
    + {
    + int ret = 1;
    + /* Check again inside the lock - the macro's check is racey */
    + if(rsa->blinding == NULL)
    + ret = RSA_blinding_on(rsa, ctx);
    + CRYPTO_w_unlock(CRYPTO_LOCK_RSA);
    + return ret;
    + }
    +#define BLINDING_HELPER(rsa, ctx, err_instr) \
    + do { \
    + if(((rsa)->flags & RSA_FLAG_BLINDING) && \
    + ((rsa)->blinding == NULL) && \
    + !rsa_eay_blinding(rsa, ctx)) \
    + err_instr \
    + } while(0)
     /* signing */
     static int RSA_eay_private_encrypt(int flen, const unsigned char *from,
           unsigned char *to, RSA *rsa, int padding)
    @@ -239,8 +258,8 @@
      goto err;
    - if ((rsa->flags & RSA_FLAG_BLINDING) && (rsa->blinding == NULL))
    - RSA_blinding_on(rsa,ctx);
    + BLINDING_HELPER(rsa, ctx, goto err;);
      if (rsa->flags & RSA_FLAG_BLINDING)
      if (!BN_BLINDING_convert(&f,rsa->blinding,ctx)) goto err;
    @@ -318,8 +337,8 @@
      goto err;
    - if ((rsa->flags & RSA_FLAG_BLINDING) && (rsa->blinding == NULL))
    - RSA_blinding_on(rsa,ctx);
    + BLINDING_HELPER(rsa, ctx, goto err;);
      if (rsa->flags & RSA_FLAG_BLINDING)
      if (!BN_BLINDING_convert(&f,rsa->blinding,ctx)) goto err;
    Index: crypto/rsa/rsa_lib.c
    RCS file: /e/openssl/cvs/openssl/crypto/rsa/rsa_lib.c,v
    retrieving revision
    diff -u -r1.30.2.2 rsa_lib.c
    --- crypto/rsa/rsa_lib.c 30 Jan 2003 17:37:46 -0000
    +++ crypto/rsa/rsa_lib.c 16 Mar 2003 10:34:13 -0000
    @@ -72,7 +72,13 @@
     RSA *RSA_new(void)
    - return(RSA_new_method(NULL));
    + RSA *r=RSA_new_method(NULL);
    + r->flags|=RSA_FLAG_BLINDING;
    + return r;
     void RSA_set_default_method(const RSA_METHOD *meth)


    Full paper:

    The information has been provided by <mailto:dbrumley@stanford.edu> David
    Brumley, <mailto:dabo@cs.stanford.edu> Dan Boneh,
    <mailto:hack4life@hushmail.com> hack4life and <mailto:ben@algroup.co.uk>
    Ben Laurie.


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