16 Feb, 2023

Misuse of cryptography

Vulnerability Assessment as a Service (VAaaS)

Tests systems and applications for vulnerabilities to address weaknesses.

Misuse of cryptography refers to the use of cryptographic techniques for purposes other than their intended and legitimate purposes, such as for concealing illegal or unethical activities. Cryptography is a powerful tool for protecting information and communication from unauthorized access, but it can also be misused to facilitate criminal activities such as money laundering, terrorism, and cybercrime. Misuse of cryptography can include using encryption to hide the contents of illegal messages, using stolen or fake digital certificates to impersonate legitimate entities, or using weak or compromised encryption algorithms that can be easily broken.

It is important to note that cryptography itself is not inherently malicious, and its use for legitimate purposes is essential for protecting the privacy and security of individuals and organizations. However, the misuse of cryptography can pose a significant threat to national security, public safety, and the integrity of financial systems.

Example of vulnerable code on different programming languages:


in Python:

				
					import hashlib

password = input("Enter your password: ")
salt = "somesaltvalue"

# Hash the password with the salt
hashed_password = hashlib.sha256(password + salt).hexdigest()

# Save the hashed password to a database or file
save_to_file(hashed_password)

				
			


In this example, the developer is using a simple hash function to store users’ passwords in a database. However, this code is vulnerable to a dictionary attack because it does not include any salt value in the password hash. This means that an attacker could pre-compute a list of common passwords and their corresponding hashes and use that list to quickly guess users’ passwords.

• in Java:

				
					import javax.crypto.Cipher;
import javax.crypto.spec.SecretKeySpec;

String plainText = "secret message";
String encryptionKey = "1234567890123456";

// Create a cipher object and initialize it with the encryption key
Cipher cipher = Cipher.getInstance("AES/ECB/PKCS5Padding");
SecretKeySpec key = new SecretKeySpec(encryptionKey.getBytes(), "AES");
cipher.init(Cipher.ENCRYPT_MODE, key);

// Encrypt the plain text
byte[] encryptedText = cipher.doFinal(plainText.getBytes());

// Save the encrypted text to a file or send it over a network
save_to_file(encryptedText);

				
			


In this example, the developer is using the AES encryption algorithm to encrypt a message using a hard-coded encryption key. However, this code is vulnerable to attacks because it is using the ECB (Electronic Codebook) mode, which is not recommended for encrypting multiple blocks of data. Additionally, the developer is not using any authentication mechanism to ensure the integrity of the encrypted message, which means that an attacker could modify the encrypted message without being detected.

• in С#:

				
					using System.Security.Cryptography;

string password = "mysecretpassword";
string encryptionKey = "1234567890123456";
byte[] salt = new byte[] { 0x01, 0x02, 0x03, 0x04, 0x05, 0x06, 0x07, 0x08 };

// Create a key derivation function object and generate a derived key
Rfc2898DeriveBytes keyDerivationFunction = new Rfc2898DeriveBytes(password, salt, 10000);
byte[] derivedKey = keyDerivationFunction.GetBytes(32);

// Create a cipher object and initialize it with the derived key
AesManaged cipher = new AesManaged();
cipher.Key = derivedKey;

// Encrypt the plain text
string plainText = "secret message";
byte[] encryptedText = cipher.CreateEncryptor().TransformFinalBlock(Encoding.UTF8.GetBytes(plainText), 0, plainText.Length);

// Save the encrypted text to a file or send it over a network
save_to_file(encryptedText);

				
			


In this example, the developer is using a key derivation function to generate a secure encryption key from a user’s password and a salt value. However, this code is vulnerable to timing attacks because it uses a fixed number of iterations for the key derivation function, which can make it easier for an attacker to guess the user’s password by measuring the time it takes to derive the key. Additionally, the developer is not using any authentication mechanism to ensure the integrity of the encrypted message, which means that an attacker could modify the encrypted message without being detected.

Examples of exploitation Misuse of cryptography

Brute force attacks:

If an attacker gains access to encrypted data or messages, they can use brute force techniques to guess the encryption key or password used to protect the data. This is particularly effective when the encryption algorithm used is weak or the password is short and easily guessable.

Man-in-the-middle attacks:

If an attacker can intercept and modify encrypted messages or data, they can potentially gain access to sensitive information or inject malicious content into the communication. This can happen when the encryption keys or digital certificates used for secure communication have been compromised or when the encryption protocol does not include measures for message authentication and integrity.

Side-channel attacks:

Some encryption algorithms may be vulnerable to side-channel attacks, where an attacker can use information leaked by the implementation of the encryption algorithm (such as timing, power consumption, or electromagnetic radiation) to recover the encryption key. This is particularly effective against weak or non-random key generation or encryption algorithms with predictable patterns.

Cryptographic ransomware:

Attackers can use encryption to hold a victim’s data or device hostage, demanding payment in exchange for the decryption key. This type of attack, known as ransomware, is becoming increasingly common and can cause significant financial or reputational damage to victims.

Cryptojacking:

Attackers can use the processing power of a victim’s device to mine cryptocurrency by exploiting vulnerabilities in the encryption algorithms used by cryptocurrencies. This can cause the device to slow down or crash, and can also result in high energy bills for the victim.

Privilege escalation techniques for Misuse of cryptography

Padding Oracle Attacks:
In some encryption modes, padding bytes are added to the plaintext to ensure it is a multiple of the block size. A padding oracle attack can be used to extract information from the ciphertext, such as a secret key, by manipulating the padding and observing the resulting decryption error messages.

Key Wrapping Attacks:
Key wrapping is a process used to securely transmit encryption keys by encrypting them with another key. If an attacker can gain access to the key used for key wrapping, they can potentially decrypt the encrypted key and gain access to the system or application.

Cryptographic Libraries and Frameworks:
Cryptographic libraries and frameworks can be vulnerable to a range of attacks, including buffer overflows and input validation errors, which can be exploited to execute arbitrary code or escalate privileges.

Side-channel Attacks:
Side-channel attacks, as mentioned earlier, can also be used to gain access to encryption keys or other sensitive information. An attacker can use techniques such as power analysis or timing attacks to extract information about the encryption process or the key being used.

Misconfiguration of Cryptography:
Misconfiguration of cryptography can also lead to privilege escalation. For example, if a server is configured to use weak encryption protocols, such as SSLv2 or SSLv3, an attacker can exploit these weaknesses to decrypt the encrypted communication and gain access to sensitive information.

General methodology and checklist for Misuse of cryptography

Methodology:

  1. Identify the cryptographic components: Identify the cryptographic components being used in the system or application, such as encryption algorithms, key management, and digital signatures.

  2. Identify the cryptographic requirements: Identify the cryptographic requirements of the system or application, such as confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of the data. This will help in selecting appropriate testing techniques.

  3. Threat modeling: Perform a threat modeling exercise to identify potential vulnerabilities and attacks that could be used to exploit the cryptographic components.

  4. Static analysis: Conduct static analysis of the code to identify potential vulnerabilities, such as buffer overflows, input validation errors, and weak key generation.

  5. Dynamic analysis: Conduct dynamic analysis of the system or application to identify vulnerabilities that cannot be detected through static analysis, such as timing attacks and power analysis.

  6. Fuzz testing: Conduct fuzz testing to identify potential vulnerabilities by generating large volumes of input data to test the system or application.

  7. Boundary testing: Conduct boundary testing to identify vulnerabilities related to the length of data input, such as buffer overflows.

  8. Input validation testing: Test the system or application to ensure that it correctly validates input data, such as ensuring that the input data is in the expected format and range.

  9. Compliance testing: Conduct compliance testing to ensure that the system or application adheres to established cryptographic standards and guidelines, such as the NIST guidelines for cryptography.

  10. Validation testing: Conduct validation testing to ensure that the cryptographic components are working as intended and are providing the necessary level of security.

  11. Penetration testing: Conduct penetration testing to identify potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited by an attacker, such as exploiting padding oracle attacks or key wrapping attacks.

Checklist:

  1. Verify that cryptographic protocols used in the system or application follow industry best practices and standards such as the NIST guidelines for cryptography.

  2. Ensure that cryptographic keys are being securely managed, including proper generation, distribution, storage, and disposal.

  3. Check that strong encryption algorithms and cryptographic modes are being used, and that appropriate key lengths and padding mechanisms are in place.

  4. Test for proper input validation of data to be encrypted, including checking the data format, length, and range.

  5. Verify that cryptographic components are properly implemented in the system or application, and that they are not susceptible to common vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows, injection attacks, or input validation errors.

  6. Test for proper error handling and logging of cryptographic operations, including error messages that do not reveal sensitive information.

  7. Verify that cryptographic processes are not vulnerable to side-channel attacks such as timing attacks, power analysis, or electromagnetic radiation.

  8. Check that key exchanges and key management processes are secure, including proper usage of digital certificates and key revocation.

  9. Test for possible attacks such as padding oracle attacks, key wrapping attacks, or man-in-the-middle attacks.

  10. Ensure that cryptographic components are regularly updated with security patches and that cryptographic libraries and frameworks are used with the latest version.

Tools set for exploiting Misuse of cryptography

Manual Tools:

  • Wireshark: A network protocol analyzer that can capture and inspect encrypted network traffic.

  • Burp Suite: A web application security testing tool that can be used to intercept and manipulate encrypted data between the client and server.

  • OpenSSL: A command-line tool that can be used to test for cryptographic vulnerabilities, generate keys, and encrypt and decrypt data.

  • John the Ripper: A password cracking tool that can be used to crack weakly encrypted passwords.

  • Metasploit Framework: A penetration testing tool that can be used to test for vulnerabilities in encrypted communication protocols.

  • Nmap: A network scanner that can be used to identify open ports and services that are using weak cryptographic protocols.

  • Cain and Abel: A password recovery tool that can be used to decrypt and recover passwords.

  • OpenSSL Cookbook: A guide for testing and implementing secure cryptographic practices with the OpenSSL library.

Automated Tools:

  • SSLScan: A tool that can be used to test SSL/TLS services for known vulnerabilities.

  • Scapy: A packet manipulation tool that can be used to test for vulnerabilities in network traffic encryption.

  • THC-Hydra: A password cracking tool that can be used to test for weakly encrypted passwords.

  • SSLsplit: A transparent SSL/TLS man-in-the-middle proxy that can be used to intercept and manipulate encrypted data.

  • Hashcat: A password cracking tool that can be used to crack weakly encrypted passwords.

  • Zap: A web application security testing tool that can be used to intercept and manipulate encrypted data between the client and server.

  • SQLMap: A tool that can be used to test for SQL injection vulnerabilities in encrypted web applications.

  • SSLyze: A tool that can be used to test for SSL/TLS vulnerabilities and misconfigurations.

  • Burp Intruder: A tool that can be used to test for weakly encrypted passwords and session tokens.

  • Responder: A tool that can be used to intercept encrypted authentication requests and crack weak passwords.

  • Heartbleed: A tool that can be used to test for the Heartbleed vulnerability in OpenSSL.

  • Aircrack-ng: A tool that can be used to crack Wi-Fi encryption keys.

Average CVSS score of stack Misuse of cryptography

The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) is a standardized system used to assess the severity of security vulnerabilities. The score ranges from 0 to 10, with a higher score indicating a more severe vulnerability.

Misuse of cryptography can result in a wide range of vulnerabilities, from minor configuration issues to severe flaws that can lead to data theft, tampering, or system compromise. As such, the average CVSS score for vulnerabilities related to the misuse of cryptography can vary widely.

On average, however, vulnerabilities related to the misuse of cryptography tend to have a CVSS score between 5 and 8, depending on the severity and impact of the vulnerability. This indicates that these vulnerabilities can be significant and may require immediate attention, but they are not usually considered critical.

The Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE)

• CWE-327: Use of a Broken or Risky Cryptographic Algorithm: This CWE is associated with the use of known vulnerable cryptographic algorithms that can be easily exploited by an attacker.

• CWE-329: Not Using a Random IV with CBC Mode: This CWE is associated with the use of Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) mode with a static initialization vector (IV), which can allow an attacker to decrypt the encrypted data.

• CWE-330: Use of Insufficiently Random Values: This CWE is associated with the use of weak or predictable values for cryptographic operations such as key generation or initialization vectors.

• CWE-338: Use of Cryptographically Weak Pseudo-Random Number Generator (PRNG): This CWE is associated with the use of a weak or predictable PRNG for generating cryptographic keys or other random values.

• CWE-759: Use of a One-Way Hash without a Salt: This CWE is associated with the use of a one-way hash function without a salt, which can allow an attacker to easily crack passwords or other sensitive data.

• CWE-780: Use of RSA Algorithm without OAEP: This CWE is associated with the use of the RSA algorithm without the Optimal Asymmetric Encryption Padding (OAEP), which can allow an attacker to decrypt the encrypted data.

• CWE-924: Improper Restriction of Operations within the Bounds of a Memory Buffer: This CWE is associated with buffer overflow vulnerabilities in cryptographic libraries, which can lead to remote code execution or other attacks.

• CWE-1257: Use of a Cryptographically Weak Algorithm in a Secure Context: This CWE is associated with the use of a weak cryptographic algorithm in a context where security is critical, such as for authentication or encryption.

Top 10 CVES related to Misuse of cryptography

• CVE-2023-24025 – CRYSTALS-DILITHIUM (in Post-Quantum Cryptography Selected Algorithms 2022) in PQClean d03da30 may allow universal forgeries of digital signatures via a template side-channel attack because of intermediate data leakage of one vector.

• CVE-2023-23931 – cryptography is a package designed to expose cryptographic primitives and recipes to Python developers. In affected versions `Cipher.update_into` would accept Python objects which implement the buffer protocol, but provide only immutable buffers. This would allow immutable objects (such as `bytes`) to be mutated, thus violating fundamental rules of Python and resulting in corrupted output. This now correctly raises an exception. This issue has been present since `update_into` was originally introduced in cryptography 1.8.

• CVE-2023-22971 – Cross Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerability in Hughes Network Systems Router Terminal for HX200 v8.3.1.14, HX90 v6.11.0.5, HX50L v6.10.0.18, HN9460 v8.2.0.48, and HN7000S v6.9.0.37, allows unauthenticated attackers to misuse frames, include JS/HTML code and steal sensitive information from legitimate users of the application.

• CVE-2022-46505 – An issue in MatrixSSL 4.5.1-open and earlier leads to failure to securely check the SessionID field, resulting in the misuse of an all-zero MasterSecret that can decrypt secret data.

• CVE-2022-3820 – An issue has been discovered in GitLab affecting all versions starting from 15.4 prior to 15.4.4, and 15.5 prior to 15.5.2. GitLab was not performing correct authentication with some Package Registries when IP address restrictions were configured, allowing an attacker already in possession of a valid Deploy Token to misuse it from any location.

• CVE-2022-36861 – Custom permission misuse vulnerability in SystemUI prior to SMR Sep-2022 Release 1 allows attacker to use some protected functions with SystemUI privilege.

• CVE-2022-34632 – Rocket-Chip commit 4f8114374d8824dfdec03f576a8cd68bebce4e56 was discovered to contain insufficient cryptography via the component /rocket/RocketCore.scala.

• CVE-2022-29964 – The Emerson DeltaV Distributed Control System (DCS) controllers and IO cards through 2022-04-29 misuse passwords. WIOC SSH provides access to a shell as root, DeltaV, or backup via hardcoded credentials. NOTE: this is different from CVE-2014-2350.

• CVE-2022-29963 – The Emerson DeltaV Distributed Control System (DCS) controllers and IO cards through 2022-04-29 misuse passwords. TELNET on port 18550 provides access to a root shell via hardcoded credentials. This affects S-series, P-series, and CIOC/EIOC nodes. NOTE: this is different from CVE-2014-2350.

• CVE-2022-29962 – The Emerson DeltaV Distributed Control System (DCS) controllers and IO cards through 2022-04-29 misuse passwords. FTP has hardcoded credentials (but may often be disabled in production). This affects S-series, P-series, and CIOC/EIOC nodes. NOTE: this is different from CVE-2014-2350.

Misuse of cryptography exploits

Padding Oracle Attacks:

Padding oracle attacks take advantage of the fact that some cryptographic implementations do not properly check the padding of encrypted data. By manipulating the padding, an attacker can decrypt the data.

Brute Force Attacks:

Brute force attacks involve trying every possible key or password combination until the correct one is found. This is possible if the key is too short or if the encryption algorithm is weak.

Side-Channel Attacks:

Side-channel attacks take advantage of information leaked through physical properties of the cryptographic system, such as power consumption or electromagnetic radiation. These attacks can reveal information about the key used for encryption.

Known Plaintext Attacks:

Known plaintext attacks take advantage of a known plaintext and the corresponding ciphertext. By analyzing the relationship between the two, an attacker can derive the key used for encryption.

Meet-in-the-Middle Attacks:

Meet-in-the-middle attacks take advantage of the fact that some encryption algorithms are vulnerable to attacks that require only 2^n operations, instead of the full 2^(2n) operations required by brute force attacks.

Replay Attacks:

Replay attacks involve intercepting and re-sending encrypted messages. If the encryption algorithm is not designed to handle replay attacks, an attacker can potentially reuse the message or modify it to their advantage.

Key Extraction Attacks:

Key extraction attacks involve extracting the key used for encryption from the hardware or software that uses it. This can involve physical attacks or exploiting software vulnerabilities.

Practicing in test for Misuse of cryptography

  1. Familiarize yourself with common cryptographic vulnerabilities and exploits, such as those associated with weak keys, insecure algorithms, and poor key management practices.

  2. Review the cryptographic implementations used in your applications or systems, such as SSL/TLS, encryption libraries, and password storage mechanisms. Look for areas where the cryptographic implementations may be vulnerable to attacks or misuse.

  3. Perform manual testing of cryptographic implementations to identify vulnerabilities and weaknesses. This may involve using tools such as Wireshark, Burp Suite, or other network analysis tools to monitor and manipulate encrypted traffic.

  4. Use automated tools to scan for vulnerabilities in cryptographic implementations. This may involve using tools such as Nessus, OpenVAS, or other vulnerability scanners to identify vulnerabilities related to cryptographic misuses.

  5. Follow best practices for cryptographic implementations, such as using strong algorithms and keys, properly managing keys and passwords, and ensuring that data is properly encrypted in transit and at rest.

  6. Learn about common cryptographic attacks and how to defend against them, such as man-in-the-middle attacks, padding oracle attacks, and brute force attacks.

  7. Practice using different cryptographic algorithms and key sizes to understand how they work and their strengths and weaknesses.

  8. Stay up-to-date on the latest cryptographic vulnerabilities and exploits, and regularly review and update your cryptographic implementations to address any vulnerabilities that are discovered.

For study Misuse of cryptography

OWASP Cryptographic Storage Cheat Sheet: This guide provides recommendations for securely storing sensitive data using cryptographic techniques, including how to avoid common mistakes that can lead to vulnerabilities.

Cryptography Engineering: Design Principles and Practical Applications: This book provides a detailed introduction to cryptographic principles and techniques, with a focus on practical applications and best practices.

Cryptography I & II by Dan Boneh: These online courses from Stanford University provide an in-depth introduction to cryptography, covering topics such as symmetric and asymmetric encryption, digital signatures, and hash functions.

Cryptography for Developers: This online course from Pluralsight provides an introduction to cryptography for software developers, with a focus on how to securely store and transmit data using cryptographic techniques.

NIST Special Publication 800-57: This document from the National Institute of Standards and Technology provides guidelines for cryptographic key management, including how to generate, store, and distribute cryptographic keys.

Crypto101: This online book provides an accessible introduction to cryptography, with a focus on practical applications and real-world examples.

Cryptography Stack Exchange: This Q&A site provides a forum for discussing cryptographic topics, including vulnerabilities and best practices.

Books with review of Misuse of cryptography

“Cryptography Engineering: Design Principles and Practical Applications” by Niels Ferguson, Bruce Schneier, and Tadayoshi Kohno – This book is a great introduction to cryptography, focusing on practical applications and design principles. It covers topics such as symmetric and asymmetric encryption, digital signatures, and hash functions.

“Serious Cryptography: A Practical Introduction to Modern Encryption” by Jean-Philippe Aumasson – This book is a more technical introduction to modern cryptography, with a focus on practical applications and use cases. It covers topics such as symmetric encryption, hash functions, and key exchange protocols.

“Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C” by Bruce Schneier – This book is a classic reference on cryptography, covering a wide range of topics such as symmetric and asymmetric encryption, digital signatures, and hash functions. It includes source code in C for many of the algorithms discussed.

“Handbook of Applied Cryptography” by Alfred J. Menezes, Paul C. van Oorschot, and Scott A. Vanstone – This book is a comprehensive reference on cryptography, covering both theoretical and practical aspects. It includes many examples and exercises, making it a great resource for self-study.

“Cryptonomicon” by Neal Stephenson – This novel is a fictional account of the development of cryptography and its impact on world events. It’s an entertaining and engaging read that provides insight into the history and evolution of cryptography.

“Silent Messages” by Alberti and Maffei – This book explores the history and development of cryptography, from ancient times to the present day. It provides a comprehensive overview of different cryptographic systems and techniques.

“The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography” by Simon Singh – This book provides an engaging and accessible introduction to cryptography, covering both historical and modern methods. It’s a great resource for anyone interested in the history and evolution of cryptography.

“The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet” by David Kahn – This book is a classic reference on the history of cryptography, covering many different cryptographic systems and techniques. It’s a great resource for anyone interested in the evolution of secret communication.

“Introduction to Modern Cryptography” by Jonathan Katz and Yehuda Lindell – This book is a more technical introduction to modern cryptography, covering topics such as symmetric encryption, public key encryption, and digital signatures. It includes many examples and exercises to help readers develop a strong understanding of the material.

“Crypto: How the Code Rebels Beat the Government–Saving Privacy in the Digital Age” by Steven Levy – This book provides an engaging and informative account of the development of modern cryptography and its impact on privacy and civil liberties. It’s a great resource for anyone interested in the social and political implications of cryptography.

How to be protected from Misuse of cryptography

  1. Use reputable encryption software: Make sure you are using encryption software that is well-known, widely used, and has been audited for security vulnerabilities.

  2. Use strong encryption algorithms: Always use encryption algorithms that are considered secure, such as AES, RSA, and SHA-2.

  3. Use strong passwords and keys: Make sure your encryption keys and passwords are long and complex, and never share them with anyone.

  4. Keep your software up-to-date: Make sure your encryption software is always up-to-date, with the latest security patches and updates.

  5. Verify the authenticity of keys: Always verify the authenticity of keys before using them for encryption or decryption, to ensure they have not been tampered with or compromised.

  6. Follow security best practices: Make sure you follow security best practices, such as avoiding public Wi-Fi, using two-factor authentication, and keeping your devices and software secure.

  7. Educate yourself on security risks: Stay informed about the latest security risks and vulnerabilities, and learn how to protect yourself from them.

Conclusion

Misuse of cryptography is a serious security risk that can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive data. Misuse of cryptography can occur when encryption is not implemented properly, encryption keys or passwords are compromised, or when insecure cryptographic protocols or algorithms are used.

To prevent Misuse of cryptography, it’s important to follow security best practices, such as using strong encryption algorithms and keys, using reputable cryptographic libraries and protocols, ensuring proper implementation of encryption, keeping software and systems up-to-date, and regularly reviewing and auditing cryptographic implementations.

In addition, it’s important to stay informed about the latest security risks and vulnerabilities, and to educate yourself on how to protect your data from Misuse of cryptography and other security threats.

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