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Topic: #Pretty-Good-Privacy

PGP Vulnerability Discovered: Turn Off Automatic Decryption Until Patches Are Released

2018-05-14⊺10:28:40-05:00

Some security researchers have discovered a new attack on PGP. They have written a paper explaining how it works and plan to publish it tomorrow, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation has learned enough about it that they are sounding an alarm even before the details are public:

“Attention PGP Users: New Vulnerabilities Require You to Take Action Now”
Danny O'Brien and Gennie Gebhart, Deeplinks, Electronic Frontier Foundation, May 13, 2018
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/05/attention-pgp-users-new-vulnerabilities-require-you-take-action-now

A group of European security researchers have released a warning about a set of vulnerabilities affecting users of PGP and S/MIME. EFF has been in communication with this research team, and can confirm that these vulnerabilities pose an immediate risk to those using these tools for email communication, including the potential exposure of the contents of past messages. …

Our advice, which mirrors that of the researchers, is to immediately disable and/or uninstall tools that automatically decrypt PGP-encrypted email.

The story includes links to instructions provided by the EFF on how to temporarily disable the PGP plug-ins for Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and Outlook.

Update (2018-05-14⊺11:34:32-05:00)

The discoverers of the attack now have a Web site up and have published a draft of their paper there:

“Efail: Breaking S/MIME and OpenPGP Email Encryption Using Exfiltration Channels”
Damian Poddebniak, Christian Dresen, Jens Miller, Fabian Ising, Sebastian Schinzel, Simon Friedberger, Juraj Somorovsky, and Jörg Schwenk, May 14, 2018
https://efail.de/efail-attack-paper.pdf

There are actually two vulnerabilities. One exploits peculiarities, arguably errors, in mail user agents that parse and interpret HTML in messages after they have been decrypted. The other exploits a weakness in the OpenPGP standard: Under certain circumstances, the standard doesn't require integrity checks and doesn't specify what a decryption algorithm should do when an integrity check fails. Consequently, many mail user agents do the wrong thing when they receive a message that has been tampered with.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a follow-up, and other security authorities are providing quick analysis as well:

“Not So Pretty: What You Need to Know about E-Fail and the PGP Flaw”
Erica Portnoy, Danny O'Brien, and Nate Cardozo, Deeplinks, Electronic Frontier Foundation, May 14, 2018
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/05/not-so-pretty-what-you-need-know-about-e-fail-and-pgp-flaw-0

“Some Notes on eFail”
Robert Graham, Errata Security, May 14, 2018
https://blog.erratasec.com/2018/05/some-notes-on-efail.html

“New Vulnerabilities in Many PGP and S/MIME Enabled Email Clients”
Matthew Green, Twitter, May 14, 2018
https://mobile.twitter.com/matthew_d_green/status/995989254143606789

#Pretty-Good-Privacy #privacy #communications-security

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John David Stone (havgl@unity.homelinux.net)

created June 1, 2014 · last revised December 10, 2018