Exploiting DSA-1571: How to break PFS in SSL with EDH

( I love acronyms :-D ) Tal vez quieras leer esto en español.

At this point, all of you should know and see how the H D Moore’s toys work. Those toys attack SSH public-key authentication using clone keys and online brute force.

Furthermore, many of you know that there are other effects produced by a biased PRNG besides this one.

Strangely, I could not find more of those toys exploiting these aspects. So, I would like to show you a Wireshark patch which attacks Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS) provided by Ephemeral Diffie Hellman (EDH).

Introduction to EDH

Let’s put it in plain words (if you know what we are talking about, ignore this and jump to the next heading):
In an insecure communications channel the parties agree a common key to cipher their dialog. This is what happens in SSL (in most of the cases, depending on the cipher suite):

  • The server selects a random prime p and a generator g of the field Z*p (Let’s ignore the mathematical properties of these values). So, the components p and g are public.

  • The server picks a secret random number Xs and calculates Ys=gXs mod p. Ys is public and is sent to the client (just like p and g).
  • The client does something similar, selecting a secret random number Xc and calculating Yc=gXc mod p too. The client makes Yc public by sending it to the server.
  • The shared secret s is the public key of the other part to the exponential of the own private number, all in p modulus. That is, for the client s=YsXcmod p and for the server s=YcXsmod p.
  • With this shared secret the parties can encrypt all the following messages in a secure way.
  • In the Ephemeral Diffie Hellman (EDH), the private numbers are ruled out, so s is mathematically secure and nobody can obtain it even having access to one of the parties after the aforementioned handshake.

The “exploit”

If an eavesdropper can explore the complete private key space (the all possible numbers for Xc or Xs), he/she will be able to get access to the shared secret. With it all the communication can be deciphered. That’s what this patch can do.

A Wireshark with this patch and a list of possible private keys will try to brute force the share secret. If one of the parties is using the vulnerable OpenSSL package the communication is totally insecure and will be decrypted.

  • The patch for Wireshark 1.0.2 can be downloaded from here.

  • Debian packages with the patch applied can be found here.
  • This is a list of all 215 possible 64 and 128 bit DH private keys in systems vulnerable to the predictable OpenSSL PRNG described by DSA-1571.
  • An example of a pcap file can be found here (it was built with a vulnerable client and one of the Moore toys, a hacked getpid by running $ MAGICPID=101 LD_PRELOAD=‘getpid.so’ ./vulnerable-openssl/apps/openssl s_client -connect db.debian.org:443 )

The patch was submitted in order to be committed on the Wireshark trunk. There you can find the patch against the on-develop source revision 25765.

Issues that can be improved

We (the other developers and myself) detected few things to be improved. But we will do nothing for them. So, if you want to contribute with some code, start from these items and submit the patches to the Wireshark’s bugzilla:

  • When the packets are out-of-order the decipher with stop itself.

  • The brute force attack should run in a background process (and with a progres bar)
  • Check the length of the keys before trying to brute force them.
  • The patch also implements the display of public DH parameters in the packet tree. It’s incomplete.


Paolo Abeni <paolo.abeni at email.it>
Luciano Bello <luciano at debian.org>
Maximiliano Bertacchini <mbertacchini at citefa.gov.ar>

This work was partially supported by Si6 Labs at CITEFA, Argentina.

UPDATE Jul. 21st: See more and updated info here, especially this.


Después de pasar más de un mes sin bloguear, uno siente la obligación de tener que hacerlo por una buena causa.

Y ésta me pareció que lo es. Durante mi periódica vuelta por el lado del mal me encuentro una simpática repercusión tardía del ‘Debian/OpenSSL debacle’, siempre desde su peculiar perspectiva el amigo Josemaricariño publicó:

click para agrandar
Una vez más, muchas gracias al maligno por el reconocimiento. Es raro verse en forma de cartoon :oP.