Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Critical flaw found in email encryption tools

PSA PGP and S  MIME are broken and leaking encrypted emails – stop using them right now Uninstall PGP: EFF warns of exploit that may reveal plaintext of encrypted emails
Delores Daniels | 15 May, 2018, 16:20

"There are now no reliable fixes for the vulnerability", he added.

The vulnerabilities dubbed EFAIL are harmful as they can reveal the contents of messages in plain text, even for the messages from the past.

The EFAIL vulnerabilities, which now have no software patch, "might reveal the plaintext of encrypted emails, including encrypted emails sent in the past", according to researchers.

Ultimately, if you don't use PGP or S/MIME for email encryption, then there's nothing to worry about. Hacker House cofounder and Brit infosec pro Matthew Hickey told The Register while we're unlikely to see widespread abuse of EFAIL, the potential for targeted attacks against journalists, corporations, activists, and academics makes it worth taking seriously. That the vulnerability also affects S/MIME, however, may be more significant because S/MIME is much more widely deployed by businesses to secure their email communications.

According to the security researchers, emails encrypted by these plugins, and any other plugins that use the "PGP" or "S/MIME" encryption standards can be easily decrypted. When you receive the altered message, your mail client (Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, etc) decrypts the message and load any media element through the altered element, then malicious actor is then able to get a plaintext version of your message.

The attacker changes an encrypted email in a particular way and sends this changed encrypted email to the victim.

In order to execute an attack, the attacker needs to have access to your PGP or S/MIME encrypted emails and attack could be aimed to specifically target certain users. Unfortunately, guarding messages from an attacker with full access to your data is one of the primary use cases for both encryption formats.

Researchers have discovered a vulnerability in the OpenPGP and S/MIME protocols that allows for the exfiltration of plaintext messages. He later created OpenPGP, an open source approach that is based on PGP and available via free software such as GPG, short for GNU Privacy Guard.

Sebastian Schinzel, one of the researchers, promised in a Tweet to provide more details of the vulnerabilities on May 15.

Essentially, an attacker sends three parts - a partial HTML img tag declaration, a string of encrypted text, followed by the closing HTML for the image tag.

In fact, users are being advised to stop using and disable the encryption tools immediately in their email client if they use them for sensitive communications.

YOUR EMAILS could be vulnerable to interception following a discovery of a major flaw in PGP/S-MIME encryption, far and away the most popular was of protecting emails.

Some experts, however, questioned the EFF's recommendation.

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