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Posts Tagged ‘openssl’

Did You Know? S/MIME is like SSL for Email Encryption

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

S/MIME is a popular technology for end-to-end email encryption and is analogous to PGP in the way that it works.  It is commonly available in most modern email programs and in many server-side email and WebMail encryption services like LuxSci SecureLine.

Folks are used to thinking about Internet security and encryption in terms of web site security. E.g. the “https://” that secures our everyday life working in our web browsers is the signal that SSL/TLS is being used to encrypt traffic between ourselves and the web server.  People are even becoming used to the fact that TLS (with SMTP) is also commonly used to secure the transport of email messages from server-to-server.

These are all good things!

S/MIME (like PGP) is different — it encrypts the email message before it is sent and the message stays encrypted until the recipient opens it.  It “doesn’t matter” how this message is transported to the recipient … its secure the whole way.[1]  But did you know that S/MIME is really just an application of the same SSL/TLS technology that secures your traffic to securing your messages?

[1] S/MIME (and PGP) do not secure your message headers (e.g. the subject, recipients, etc.), it only secures the message body and attachments.  So, the added security of SMTP over TLS does serve to protect those things that S/MIME does not protect.

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Is SSL/TLS Really Broken by the BEAST attack? What is the Real Story? What Should I Do?

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Update – January, 2015.  SSL v3 should be turned off.  RC4 is now weak and should not be used anymore, even as a work around to the BEAST attack.  LuxSci recommends to use TLS v1.1+ and NIST-recommended ciphers.  The BEAST is not really considered a significant vector (even with TLS v1.0) compared to other things, anymore.

Update – April, 2012. openssl v1.0.1 is out and it supports TLS v1.1 and v1.2 which help mitigate this attack.  All web sites hosted by LuxSci now use this updated software and are safe from BEAST.  LuxSci recommends using a web host which supports TLS v1.1 and v1.2 for secure web connections.

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SSL v3 and TLS v1 are subject to a serious exploit, according to a recently published attack mechanism (called BEAST).  This sounds foundation-shattering and kind of scary. When people see this, as when we did, the first panicky questions that arise are:

  • What is really affected?
  • How serious is it?
  • What can I do to protect myself?
  • How does the BEAST attack actually work?

After researching this issue, we have digested what we have found and produced this article to answer all of these questions for you.

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