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SSL And TLS Attacks | Weak Ciphers
Both SSL and TLS protocols works on the basis of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and commonly includes key exchange algorithm to handle security. Apart from just CA authority the strength of SSL cipher depends on length of key, encryption algorithm used to encipher data and Message Authentication Code (also known as SSL MAC). In this post we will have our look on how key length could effect on cipher strength. So depending on the length of initial key generated for data exchange during SSL and TLS communication, ciphers can be divided into following categories.
Null Security Ciphers:
As name suggests these ciphers do not provide any security since there's no encryption.
Weak Security Ciphers:
All ciphers with key length less than 128 bits fall under this category. Ciphers using Diffie Hellman algorithm for key exchange are also considered as weak security ciphers since they are vulnerable to man-in-the-middle-attack.
Strong Security Ciphers:
Ciphers with key length more than 128 bits and less than 256 bits are considered as strong security ciphers.
Super Strong Ciphers:
Keys in this ciphers use 256 bit keys with AES encryption. These are considered as highly secured and used by high octane organizations and research institutes.
As discussed in our previous post ciphers are actually decided with the help of Cipher suites defined to encipher data. At present there are more than 30 different cipher suites used to encipher data out of which only following are considered as secure.
Rest all are classified under weak cipher suites. Each and every initial after hyphen represents an encryption algorithm for cipher suite.
Dangers Posed By Weak Ciphers:
The attacker can interrupt communication between client and server and downgrade connection to use HTTP instead of HTTPS. This can be done by ARP poisoning and using SSL strip by Moxie Marlin Spike.
The attacker can use hardware protocol analyzer to capture packets directly from wire and then decipher them.
If attacker is well knowledged with application and its working, he can actually code another program to change meaning of messages transferred during communication.
Tools That Can Be Used To Detect Weak Ciphers:
Foundstone SSL Digger and THC SSL Check are two awesome tools that can be used to check SSL cipher strengths. Both are easy install and go tools. Just input site name and they'll analyze site for weak SSL ciphers.
Countermeasures Against Weak SSL Cipher Attacks:
The best way to counter weal SSL Cipher attacks is to disable them. Check your server's how to or help pages to disable weak ciphers.