Vulnerability in Crypt::CBC Perl module, versions <= 2.16

2006.02.25
Credit: Lincoln Stein
Risk: High
Local: No
Remote: Yes
CWE: CWE-Other


CVSS Base Score: 2.6/10
Impact Subscore: 2.9/10
Exploitability Subscore: 4.9/10
Exploit range: Remote
Attack complexity: High
Authentication: No required
Confidentiality impact: Partial
Integrity impact: None
Availability impact: None

Perl Module Security Advisory ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------- Title: Crypt::CBC ciphertext weakness when using certain block algorithms Severity: High Versions: All versions <= 2.16. Date: 23 February 2006 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------- Synopsis -------- The Perl Crypt::CBC module versions through 2.16 produce weak ciphertext when used with block encryption algorithms with blocksize > 8 bytes. Background ---------- Crypt::CBC implements the Cipher Block Chaining Mode (CBC) [1]. CBC allows block ciphers (which encrypt and decrypt chunks of data of a fixed block length) to act as though they are stream ciphers capable of encrypting and decrypting arbitrary length streams. It does this by randomly generating an initialization vector (IV) the same length as the cipher's block size. This IV is logically XORed with the first block of plaintext prior to encryption. The block is encrypted, and the result is used as the IV applied to the next block of plaintext. This process is repeated for each block of plaintext. In order for ciphertext encrypted by Crypt::CBC to be decrypted, the receiver must know both the key used to encrypt the data stream and the IV that was chosen. Because the IV is not secret, it can safely be appended to the encrypted message. The key, of course, is kept in a safe place and transmitted to the recipient by some secure means. Crypt::CBC can generate two types of headers for transmitting the IV. The older, deprecated, header type is known as the "RandomIV" header, and consists of the 8 byte string "RandomIV" followed by 8 bytes of IV data. This is the default header generated by Crypt::CBC versions through 2.16. The newer, recommended, type of header is known as the "Salted" header and consists of the 8 byte string "Salted__" followed by an 8 byte salt value. The salt value is used to rederive both the encryption key and the IV from a long passphrase provided by the user. The Salted header was introduced in version 2.13 and is compatible with the CBC header generated by OpenSSL [2]. Description ----------- The RandomIV style header assumes that the IV will be exactly 8 bytes in length. However, the IV must be the same length as the underlying cipher's block size, and so this assumption is not correct when using ciphers whose block size is greater than 8 bytes. Of the ciphers commonly available to Perl developers, only the Rijndael algorithm, which uses a 16 byte block size is the primary cipher affected by this issue. Rijndael is the cipher that underlies the AES encryption standard. Impact ------ Ciphertext encrypted with Crypt::CBC using the legacy RandomIV header and the Rijndael cipher is not secure. The latter 8 bytes of each block are chained using a constant effective IV of null, meaning that the ciphertext will be prone to differential cryptanalysis, particularly if the same key was used to generate multiple encrypted messages. Other >8-byte cipher algorithms will be similarly affected. The difficulty of breaking data encrypted using this flawed algorithm is unknown, but it should be assumed that all information encrypted in this way has been, or could someday be, compromised. Exploits -------- There are no active exploits known at this time. Workaround ---------- If using Crypt::CBC versions 2.16 and lower, pass the -salt=>1 option to Crypt::CBC->new(). This will generate and process IVs correctly for ciphers of all length. Resolution ---------- Upgrade to Crypt::CBC version 2.17 or higher. This module makes the Salted header the default behavior and refuses to encrypt or decrypt with non-8 byte block size ciphers when in legacy RandomIV mode. In order to decrypt ciphertext previously encrypted by pre-2.17 versions of the software with Rijndael and other >8-byte algorithms, Crypt::CBC provides an -insecure_legacy_decrypt option that will allow such ciphertext to be decrypted. The default is to refuse to decrypt such data. The most recent version of Crypt::CBC can be downloaded from the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN; http://www.cpan.org). Contact ------- For further information about this issue, please contact the author of Crypt::CBC, Lincoln Stein <lstein (at) cshl (dot) edu [email concealed]>. Acknowledgements ---------------- The author gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Ben Laurie<ben (at) algroup.co (dot) uk [email concealed]>, who correctly identified the issue and suggested the resolution. References ---------- [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Block_cipher_modes_of_operation [2] http://www.openssl.org/ -- Lincoln D. Stein Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 1 Bungtown Road Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724 FOR URGENT MESSAGES & SCHEDULING, PLEASE CONTACT MY ASSISTANT, SANDRA MICHELSEN, AT michelse (at) cshl (dot) edu [email concealed]


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