Cracking SSL Encryption is Beyond Human Capacity – DigiCert
Cracking SSL Encryption is Beyond Human Capacity
SSL Certificate encryption is strong, really strong. But just how strong is the encryption used in your DigiCert SSL Certificate?
SSL encryption is based on exchanging a set of totally unique keys that will be used by two entities to share secure information. In order to crack SSL encryption, you would need to guess the key being used and then use that key to reveal the coded information being shared.
Is it Really Possible to Crack SSL
Even assuming that you had the spare computing power to test the possible combinations needed to crack SSL encryption, the short answer is no.
Today’s 256-bit encryption from an SSL Certificate is so secure that cracking it is totally out of reach of Mankind.
Even if you were using a fictional, Star Trek Galaxy-class isolinear computing system processing in kiloquads with a holographic storage format using nanoprocessors and quaditronic optical subprocessors linked together in an optical data network in a multi-massively multi-processing system, the energy costs of running such a system today would make cracking SSL encryption impossible.
In all seriousness, with today’s computing capacity you would need 1. 84 ∗ 1055 linked machines in order to do it.
The bottom line: encryption works.
How Much Would it Cost to Crack 256-bit Encryption?
The StackExchange community took the challenge of figuring out how much it would cost to try and crack today’s 256-bit SSL encryption in a year.
We’ll assume that your average server uses 3741 kWh per year in electricity. The average cost of electricity in the US is roughly $0. 12 per kWh ($0. 08 / kWh for us here in Utah). Given the computing power available today and the massive number of computers needed for 256-bit key lengths, the costs quickly add up.
The Cost of Cracking 256-bit Encryption is Astronomical
Energy consumption from the number of machines needed would total $8 octodecillion dollars (that’s 1 followed by 57 zeros). And that’s just the energy costs of running the machines.
We haven’t even added the costs of the machines themselves or housing all of that equipment. Putting it in global terms, the energy costs alone equal roughly 1044 (one quattuordecillion—1 followed by 45 zeros) times the GDP of the world.
SSL Encryption Is the Backbone of Internet Security
DigiCert continues to encourage administrators to make SSL encryption a top priority across their internal enterprise network. Unable to attack SSL, hackers and cyber criminals are turning instead to finding security gaps in the technology used in enterprises. The most common server vulnerabilities like Heartbleed, BEAST, BREACH, and weak ciphers allow them to bypass the strength of an SSL Certificate.
To improve online trust, organizations should always follow best practice recommendations from security industry groups such as the CA Security Council, Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and the CA/Browser Forum.
Security initiatives like Always-On SSL (AOSSL) and Certificate Transparency (CT), combined with a robust SSL management system, ensures secure communications.
Secure SSL Management in the Cloud
SSL Certificate Lifecycle Management services like Certificate Inspector allow administrators to identify all certificates used in their environment along with the security configuration on servers and devices across their network.
Powerful certificate scanning features and automated SSL deployment capabilities from services like Certificate Inspector simplify managing secure communications.
SSL done right is more than just providing a certificate. DigiCert is helping build, manage, and maintain secure SSL/TLS connections in order to keep your critical information in safe hands.
3 Surprising Uses of PKI in Big Companies and How to Ensure They Are all Secure
Raccoon Attack: Researchers Find A Vulnerability in TLS 1.2
Bad news: there’s a vulnerability in TLS 1. 2. Good news: researchers say it’s “very hard to exploit” and major vendors have already released security patches for it.
A team of researchers has documented a vulnerability in TLS 1. 2 (and earlier versions) that could allow a man-in-the-middle attacker to acquire a shared session key and decrypt SSL/TLS traffic.
The vulnerability only applies in very specific circumstances and is difficult to execute, but software vendors have released patches to block potential attackers from taking advantage of this loophole.
(In case you’re wondering: No you don’t have to re-issue any certificates! )
What is the Raccoon Attack? How does it work? What should site owners do?
Let’s hash it out.
What is the Raccoon Attack?
The Raccoon attack is a newly discovered vulnerability in TLS 1. 2 and earlier versions. It allows hackers (in certain situations) to determine a shared session key and use that to decrypt TLS communications between the server and client.
The attack doesn’t allow a hacker to obtain the private key, so they’d have to perform the attack individually on each connection they want to eavesdrop on.
In order to execute the Raccoon Attack, a hacker needs several conditions in place:
Successfully setup a man-in-the-middle attack to intercept communicationsConnection must use TLS 1. 2 or previous (but we’ve all disabled SSL 3. 0, TLS 1. 0, and TLS 1. 1 already…right? )Connection must use Diffie-Hellman key exchangeServer must re-use Diffie-Hellman public keysThe attacker needs to be near the target server in order to run precise timing measurements
If you’d like to learn more about how the attack is executed, the researchers have setup a very informative website at with technical details and FAQs.
As far as we know, this attack has not been used in the real world. Researchers say that due to the multiple conditions that have to be in place for this attack to work, “a real-world attacker will probably use other attack vectors that are simpler and more reliable than this attack”.
What Should Site Admins Do?
Raccoon is a possible but rather unlikely attack, and it targets configurations that were already considered bad practice and were being disabled by browsers. In the words of the researchers who found it:
“Raccoon is a complex timing attack and it is very hard to exploit. It requires a lot of stars to align to decrypt a real-world TLS session. ”
Raccoon might not be a very likely real-world attack, but it’s still a proven vulnerability, so site admins would be wise to check their servers and plug this potential security hole if necessary.
Test Your Server
As a first step, you can do a quick test to see if your server software/configuration might be vulnerable to Raccoon.
1) Go to SSL Labs, run a test for your domain, and look for this setting:
2) If that parameter says “Yes” then your server may be vulnerable.
Patching Your Server
If your server is vulnerable to this attack, you will likely be able to solve the issue by simply patching or upgrading the relevant software package:
F5 has released a list of versions affected by Raccoon and details on how to patch each SSL 1. 1. 1 is not vulnerable to Raccoon. Older versions may need to has released security patches for impacted software versions.
Researchers indicate that BearSSL, BoringSSL, Botan, Mbed TLS and s2n are not vulnerable to Raccoon.
Does this Affect My SSL Certificate?
No, this should not affect any SSL certificates—it’s an issue with server/client configuration, not the digital certificate. We don’t anticipate any SSL/TLS certificates will need to be revoked or re-issued.
Let’s Move to TLS 1. 3
This vulnerability is another great reminder to move towards TLS 1. 3—which is generally more secure and efficient than TLS 1. 2.
“The complexity of this attack makes it unlikely to be used in practice; however, to be safe, organizations are encouraged to adopt TLS 1. 3 and begin deprecating older versions of the protocol. ”Dean Coclin, CISSP, DigiCert
For more details on why TLS 1. 3 is better, faster, and more secure, see our previous post: TLS 1. 3: Everything you need to know.
What’s in A Name?
POODLE, GOLDENDOODLE, and now RACCOON. (All animal names that include “oo”. I wonder what’s next…Baboon? Kangaroo? Coonhound? )
If you’re curious where this name came from, it was chosen by the team of researchers that discovered the vulnerability: Robert Merget, Marcus Brinkmann, Nimrod Aviram, Juraj Somorovsky, Johannes Mittmann, and Jörg Schwenk. Unlike many other TLS vulnerability names, Raccoon isn’t an abbreviation or acronym for a longer title. In this case, it’s just a name the researchers liked: “Raccoons are just cute animals, and it is well past time that an attack will be named after them. ”
Plus, it turns out that raccoons are pretty good at getting into things that are supposed to be locked and secure, so the name seems pretty fitting to us:
How the NSA, and your boss, can intercept and break SSL | ZDNet
National Security Agency (NSA) really “wiretapping” the Internet? Accused accomplices
Microsoft and Google deny that they have any part in it
core evidence isn’t holding up that well under closer examination.
Some, however, doubt that the NSA could actually intercept and break Secure-Socket Layer (SSL) protected Internet communications.
Ah, actually the NSA can.
And, you can too and it doesn’t require “Mission Impossible” commandos, hackers or supercomputers. All you need is a credit-card number.
There are many ways to attack SSL, but you don’t need fake SSL certificates, a rogue Certification Authority (CA), or variations on security expert
Moxie Marlinspike’s man-in-the-middle SSL attacks. Why go to all that trouble when you can just buy a SSL interception proxy, such as Blue Coat Systems’ ProxySG or their recently acquired Netronome SSL appliance to do the job for you?
Blue Coat, the biggest name in the SSL interception business, is far from the only one offering SSL interception and breaking in a box. Until recently, for example, Microsoft would sell you a program, Forefront Threat Management Gateway 2010, which could do the job for you as well.
There’s nothing new about these services. Packer Forensics was advertising appliances that could do this in 2010. The company is still in business and, while they’re keeping a low profile, they appear to be offering the same kind of devices with the same services.
Here’s how they work. First, if you know networking, this, at a high-level, is how you assume SSL is working for you:
How SSL normally works (Credit: Dell SecureWorks)
The client asks for a secure-connection and the server says sure and we’re off to handshaking our way to a secure connection. The client, typically a Web-browser but it can also be an e-mail, cloud-storage or some other kind of network service client, replies with what kind of SSL it can handle and the client and server compare notes on identity certificates and cryptographic keys until they come to an agreement that they can set up a secure transport layer. At this point, most of you assume that you have a secure end-to-end connection.
Maybe. Maybe not.
With an SSL interception proxy program or device in place, here’s what really happens:
With an SSL proxy acting as a man-in-the-middle, this is how your “secure” traffic can be read by others. (Credit: Dell SecureWorks)
The SSL proxy intercepts traffic between your computer and the Internet. When you surf to a “secure” site, it, and not your browser, get the real Web server certificate and handles setting up a perfectly good SSL connection between it and the Web server. The proxy then sends you a digital certificate, which looks like the Web server’s certificate, and sets up a “secure” connection between your browser and the proxy.
If your company has set up the proxy correctly you won’t know anything is off because they’ll have arranged to have the proxy’s internal SSL certificate registered on your machine as a valid certificate. If not, you’ll receive a pop-up error message, which, if you click on to continue, will accept the “fake” digital certificate. In either case, you get a secure connection to the proxy, it gets a secure connection to the outside site — and everything sent over the proxy can be read in plain text. Whoops.
Now if your company can do this at your business’ firewall couldn’t the NSA do something like this at a tier-one ISP? At a major company’s Web hosting facility? I don’t see why not. After all the NSA set up Room 641A at what was then AT&T’s 611 Folsom St. building in the mid-2000s for surveillance.
Is the NSA reading your e-mail and looking over your shoulder when you visit I doubt it. With techniques like traffic and metadata analysis, they don’t need to bother with that level of detail for the vast majority of people. Technically speaking could they do it? Yes. Easily and just by modifying commercial off-the shelf (COTS) hardware and software.
The real story in the NSA scandal is the collapse of journalism
PRISM: Here’s how the NSA wiretapped the Internet
NSA: All up in your privacy junk since 1952
Privacy is dead: So what if you friended the NSA?
FBI, NSA said to be secretly mining data from nine U. S. tech giants
Inventor: SSL not to blame for security woes
Frequently Asked Questions about ssl crack
Can SSL be cracked?
Is it Really Possible to Crack SSL. Even assuming that you had the spare computing power to test the possible combinations needed to crack SSL encryption, the short answer is no. Today’s 256-bit encryption from an SSL Certificate is so secure that cracking it is totally out of reach of Mankind.Aug 21, 2014
Has TLS 1.2 been cracked?
Good news: researchers say it’s “very hard to exploit” and major vendors have already released security patches for it. A team of researchers has documented a vulnerability in TLS 1.2 (and earlier versions) that could allow a man-in-the-middle attacker to acquire a shared session key and decrypt SSL/TLS traffic.Sep 10, 2020
Can NSA crack SSL?
Some, however, doubt that the NSA could actually intercept and break Secure-Socket Layer (SSL) protected Internet communications. Ah, actually the NSA can. And, you can too and it doesn’t require “Mission Impossible” commandos, hackers or supercomputers. All you need is a credit-card number.Jun 8, 2013