Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Encryption Security IT

Comodo Says Two More RAs Compromised 144

Trailrunner7 writes "Officials at Comodo have acknowledged that an additional two registration authorities affiliated with the company have been compromised in the wake of the high-profile attack on the company that was disclosed last week. Addressing a list of concerns about Comodo's practices raised by customers and browser vendors in the wake of the attack, Alden said that the company is now in the process of rolling out a new two-factor authentication system for its RAs. Comodo also is installing other security measures as a result of the attack."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Comodo Says Two More RAs Compromised

Comments Filter:
  • Simple solution. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Timmmm ( 636430 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @09:42AM (#35665972)

    Store the certificates in DNS, and access them with DNSSEC. []

    • Right. Because nobody has ever hijacked a domain.

      • by Co0Ps ( 1539395 )
        Um. You realize that "hijacking a domain" is virtually impossible with DNSSEC right?
        • by Fastolfe ( 1470 )

          Spoofing a domain is effectively impossible, but hijacking it is not. If you can convince the registrar that you are the owner of the domain, you can change the DNS servers *and* the domain's DS records.

          • by jhoegl ( 638955 )
            I believe that is what DNSSEC is supposed to solve.
            • No, It's supposed to sign the DS, A, MX, etc. records so that a third party or malicious service provider can't point users to other servers.
            • by Fastolfe ( 1470 )

              You are mistaken. DNSSEC relies on each level of the DNS hierarchy vouching for the keys used to sign records in the child zone. The root zone signs keys for com, and com signs records for, including the keys used by to sign If the keeper of com believes the domain has rightfully changed hands (or maybe an attacker figures out your password), new DNSSEC keys can be provided and the com zone will dutifully sign them, effectively transferring DNSSEC-provable ownersh

    • by Co0Ps ( 1539395 )

      Very, very, very interesting... and brilliant. This solves four major problems:

      • Trusting CA's getting hacked
      • Trusting CA's in china
      • Having to pay for expensive certificates instead of signing them ourselves

      With this solution you only have to trust your TLD authority and the root DNS certificate.

      Lets hope this gets standardized and that DNSSEC get's rolled out for all TLD's as quick as possible.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I wish. Verisign and others make too much money for that to ever happen.

        • by Lennie ( 16154 )

          They are already doing DNSSEC-services. Would it matter to them what services they sell to people ?

        • Just to correct that, Verisign sold off their CA operations to Symantec. They don't issue certs any more.

          They just control the gTLDs.

      • by Lennie ( 16154 )

        It will take years for this to be rolled out.

        Have a look at this recent post by me: []

      • by Fastolfe ( 1470 )

        Except you can't meaningfully have real-world identity validation without trusted third parties. The guy owning can generate a cert for his web server that says "eBay", but you can't trust such an assertion if the only trust you have is the DNS hierarchy.

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          True enough for the most part. However, it can be an actually trusted 3rd party rather than one of dozens of companies I've never heard of in countries whose governments I don't trust.

          If my friend buys something from someone and gives me rave reviews, if he also gives me their cert fingerprint with the link, I can KNOW for a fact that I am dealing with the same entity that my friend recommended. At that point, I don't know if his name is Joe Smith or Blusdfua Ykjfuiwqhfp for certain, but I don't care becaus

          • by Fastolfe ( 1470 )

            True enough for the most part. However, it can be an actually trusted 3rd party rather than one of dozens of companies I've never heard of in countries whose governments I don't trust.

            Yes, but you're still only applying that to the second-level domain. If I were to register, and the .com registry says my real-world identity is "Scammer", that's great. But we're delegating trust, couldn't I just create a "" and say that its real-world identity is "eBay"? You'd have to create a whole new system that establishes the top-level domains and which levels are authorized to make assertions about real-world identity. If I w

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              couldn't I just create a "" and say that its real-world identity is "eBay"?couldn't I just create a "" and say that its real-world identity is "eBay"?

              Sure, but if you then scam my friend, instead of recommending the URL with the fingerprint of your cert, he will tell me this is a scam. You might fool Comodo, but you will not get a friend of mine to recommend your URL and fingerprint as a good place.

              Sure, that makes a lot of sense. But is it practical to expect your customers to manually inspect cert fingerprints? People click through cert warnings ("I don't care, just show me the damn page") all the time without realizing the implications. I think this would be a step backward.

              Those people cannot be helped. You could get them right now with a fake banking site and a self signed cert. As you say, they'll just click right through the warning. They will click through any warning on any trust system.

              This doesn't have to replace the curr

      • On the "having to pay" thing, there is at least one CA with a signing cert trusted by the majority of current browsers who use that signing cert to sign free server certificates.

        See [] for details. Unfortunately under XP the certificate updates are not sent out marked as important so many people won't have them installed on that OS (and perhaps Vista too?) but this only affects IE users. So if you feel safe letting some XP+IE users get certificate warning messa
  • I have deleted all the CA from Comodo. I think it must be the end of his certification authority bussines. I want more responsible of that: -Ernest Young give them the WebTrust certification. Or the auditor or the certification is useless...
    • Didn't quite follow your third sentence there, but yeah, I'm de-listing Comodo and all Comodo-authorized CAs from my trusted list. We may not have perfect certificate revocation solutions, but that'll have to do for now.

    • Hell I'm removing all CA's from the browser as I don't trust any of them. Yes it creates a bit of an issue with some websites but all I have to do is add an exception for that site instead of blindly trusting the damn certificate.

      What annoys me no end in Firefox is the fact that there is no simple way to disable all certs below a CA w/o having to disable each and everyone of them. This makes no sense. If I don't trust the Root CA then why in hell should I trust any of their subsidary CA's to be any better a

      • Hell I'm removing all CA's from the browser as I don't trust any of them. Yes it creates a bit of an issue with some websites but all I have to do is add an exception for that site instead of blindly trusting the damn certificate.

        LOL. How do you verify them? Look up their phone numbers in the physical yellow pages, convince the phone monkeys that you need to talk to their CIO to have him read the cert to you letter by letter? ...for every https page every X years?

      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        Ok but if you add that exception are you not blindly trusting the remote server is who it says it is? I guess you'll know if the cert changes but then what? Do you have someone at Amazon you can call ask why the cert changed before it expired or if it has really changed? Its not as if there are not plenty of totally legitimate reasons the certificate could change.

        I am not saying you are wrong, I am just saying not trusting ANY CAs is not a practical option for most people.

        Possibly you only use a small

  • by Haedrian ( 1676506 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @09:43AM (#35665998)

    I mean, few systems can avoid being compromised by a person with "experience of 1,000 hackers" []

    • The world is truly lucky that the man with the experience of 1,000 hackers has not yet discovered steroids...
    • If you liked the "with the force of 1000 suns" meme, you'll love "with the experience of 1000 hackers!"*

      *Be sure to stay behind 7 proxies when hacking, and exercise caution so you don't accidentally the whole thing.

      • Make sure to do it over starbucks wifi from the safety of your bicycle and old man mask on. while you're at it, make sure to buy the laptop from craigslist and pick it up with old man mask still on. never connect it to any other network than starbucks. bounce through at least 30 proxies including those located in russia and africa. then brag about it on facebook and go to jail.

    • by jd ( 1658 )

      I dunno. If all thousand were skript kiddies, it should be easy.

  • Fuck... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @09:49AM (#35666056) Journal
    So is "rolling out a new two factor authentication system" code for "our last two-factor authentication system consisted of 'something you know', your username, and 'something you know, your password; because, despite the fact that we are a fucking CA we just can't be bothered"?

    Other than inertia, is there any reason to give these guys a second chance, rather than just drop them from the default trusted CAs list and let the company sell itself for scrap? Generating SSL certs is technologically trivial, anybody can do it at home with commonly available free software. Essentially, the only purpose of a CA is to be competent and trustworthy about who they generate certs for. CAs aren't really software or technology companies, they are much closer to the position of escrow services or trust companies. Generating certs is just the minor 'paperwork'. Generating only the right certs for only the right people is the job. If they can't do that, they are worse than useless.
    • Other than inertia, is there any reason to give these guys a second chance

      You mean, a third chance []?

      Yes, they are too big to fail []. Hey, it worked for the banks...

      Maybe CaCert [] only needs to get 120.000 subscribers on board, and they shouldn't have to bother with that pesky audit either?

      • by BAKup ( 40339 )

        I would have liked to seen your second link, but it appears that EFF uses Comodo for their SSL cert.

        EFF, I'd think about suing Comodo for your money back on the Cert, and get one from another company.

        • Sorry for that unintended piece of irony... when I copy-pasted that link, I had not yet removed the Comodo CA Certs from my browser...

          here is a plaintext link [].

          ... but I guess this explains why EFF thinks Comodo is "too big too fail", hehe...

          • by BAKup ( 40339 )

            I thought it was funny as hell. I did remove the s to read the EFF article. I have to agree, they seem to have a vested interest in keeping Comodo alive.

    • by trifish ( 826353 )

      is there any reason to give these guys a second chance

      Actually, a third chance. They had a similar problem a couple of years ago [].

      (That's why I've had their certs blacklisted since then. Once a CA loses trust, it can't be restored. And it shouldn't.)

    • Maybe they're in a district where "can't be arsed" is a federally-recognized handicap?
    • This isn't just a CA problem. Failure to use proper authentication is everywhere. Here's the rule of thumb you need to know regarding authentication:

      If the system or data is at all important, it should be virtually impossible to access it without real two-factor authentication. A CA is important. Financial systems are important. The Administrative interfaces to your company's core systems are important.

      Comodo should have required this of its customers, but more importantly, YOUR company should be requiring

      • Yup. Users hate it; but that just gives my pitying stare some extra practice.
      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        If the system or data is at all important, it should be virtually impossible to access it without real two-factor authentication. A CA is important. Financial systems are important. The Administrative interfaces to your company's core systems are important.

        Ah, but two-factor is also expensive.

        That's why banks and other financial institutions have rolled out two factor abortions that are really just more passwords.

        Wish it was Two-Factor [] shows how pretty much most North American banks have things set up. It's

        • by Conare ( 442798 )
          There are some pretty inexpensive ways to do this (grid cards) so like the article you linked, I don't buy cost as an excuse. Of course I did take a photo of my buddy's grid card once as a joke, but at least it isn't personal data I could harvest from his facebook page which most of those bank questions are. If people are willing to carry a "bonus" card for every flipping retail establishment in existence, they should be willing to carry a card to keep their money secure. And I can't believe that the added
  • by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @09:58AM (#35666142) Homepage

    Let's just hope they're not rolling out RSA Tokens [] :)

    • I can't wait till they roll out JRR Tolkien

      • I'd rather they didn't. Our server room smells bad enough with live bodies in there.
      • by jd ( 1658 )

        That would be nine factor via eight species authentication. Should be quite effective.

    • I wouldn't trust them to quickly roll out a RSA product. With the speed, they are going to leave some holes open, and with the back-end source code probably out in the wild, it may just make the problem worse. (The source code is only going to hurt shoddy implementations of the RSA Server. People do shoddy work under time pressure).

  • Removed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lincolnshire Poacher ( 1205798 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @10:02AM (#35666186)

    I have now removed Comodo as a trusted CA on my systems, and have advised colleagues of the three known occasions on which they have failed to act as a responsible CA. The game is up.

    The Mozilla inclusion policy [] for maintaining CAs in the default list states that:

    We reserve the right to not include a particular CA certificate in our software products. This includes (but is not limited to) cases where we believe that including a CA certificate (or setting its "trust bits" in a particular way) would cause undue risks to users' security...

    I hope that Mozilla now review the inclusion of Comodo's cert.

    • How about telling us mortals how to do that?

      • by Spad ( 470073 )

        Well in Firefox/Seamonkey go into the security settings, Manage Certificates, Trusted Authorities and delete everything under Comodo. For IE you need to open the Windows certificate management via MMC and then do the same thing.

        • Re:Removed (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @12:03PM (#35667626)

          delete everything under Comodo

          And the next time Firefox is updated (which happens frequently) the Comodo certificates will be back.

          For each Comodo certificate you need to click on Edit and clear all the check boxes so the certificate won't be used for anything. This change survives updates. As I pointed out in a comment the other day (for which I received many flames) this user interface is completely inadequate for managing the hundreds of certificates that ship with Firefox.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 )
        Mere mortals have no place tampering with CA listings, especially when they are not far-sighted enough to tell us which OS they require instructions for without us asking.

      • In Firefox, Preferences > Advanced > Encryption > View certificates. Go to the "authority" tab, click on the Comodo servers, click "delete or distrust."
      • How about telling us mortals how to do that?

        Mortal Mac users: Open Keychain Access, click on "System Roots", type "Comodo" in the search box, Click to unlock the "System Roots" keychain, then delete the "Comodo Certificate Authority" certificate. You'll probably have to enter your login password at some point.

        • Re:Removed (Score:4, Informative)

          by IgnoramusMaximus ( 692000 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @10:28AM (#35666462)
          You can't do that. Only user installed certs can be deleted. You have to use "Get Info" on the Comodo cert, expand the "Trust" section and set the drop-down to "Do not trust". The icon for the cert will get a red "x" indicating its untrusted.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Mortal Kombat users: Left, left, up, right, open keychain access, right, right, right, down, Comodo, up, down, left, right and "Finish him"...

      • by Eevee ( 535658 )
        Here is Comodo's [] advice for removing certs from Firefox. The only difference is you would pick the Authorities tab.
      • You may not have to do anything if you are on Windows 7. I had to do this manually for firefox. But after getting an OS update yesterday now when I go into IE I don't see Comodo listed as trusted, and I do see several listings under "untrusted publishers" for,, and a couple that were issued to MS and another for all listed as "untrusted".

        and for the mortals out there I checked this by going to Tools-->Internet Options-->Content-->Certificates--
        • by heypete ( 60671 )

          Microsoft released an advisory [] about this subject, which also included an update [] to blacklist those Comodo certs (the blacklisted code-signing certs from Microsoft are from a separate incident [] from 2001). It rolled out over Windows Update as a critical update several days ago.

          This shouldn't really be necessary, as the certs were also revoked by Comodo, and are available through their CRLs (which aren't queried by default) or by OCSP (which is). Nevertheless, the browser vendors (Microsoft in this case) are

    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      I have some doubts Mozilla will drop Comodo, I think Comodo is 'to big to fail'.

      My guess is they issue 1000s of certs a day, most of them are valid for a year. Those would all stop to work.

  • I used to get my SSL certs through Verisign or Thawte, who were quite expensive and required a truckload of paperwork to prove your identity to them when being issued a SSL certificate. This was years ago, so they may be more lax these days for all I know. I jumped to Comodo several years back because they were cheaper and had a lot less paperwork hassle. Generally I could get SSL certs more quickly through them than I could through Verisign or Thawte. I then managed enough SSL certs to get in to OpenSRS
    • by Lennie ( 16154 )

      At the end of the day, most certificates can just be considered 'domain validated'. The 'green-bar'-certificates ('Extended Validation') ones are what used to be the what they did. Maybe they even do more with EV, but all the others are just 'domain validated'. Let's not kid ourselfs.

      What does that mean ? You upload a certificate request on the site it downloads the whois-information does some automated checking from the addresses in the whois you choose which one to mail it to (or one of these: admin@domai

      • by jd ( 1658 )

        There were typically three grades of certificate in the Old Days - personal certificates (which is what you're describing), level 2 (where there were basic background checks) and level 3 (where they made the NSA's Top Secret clearance look trivial).

        These days, I'd extend the range but I'd say there should be an absolute minimum level for certain types of activity and that this should be enforceable in some way. (We know damn well that if it was voluntary, every bank and retailer would still go for the perso

  • Well, apparently Comodo systems are so secure that they are hacker proof [].
  • Meaningless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ugen ( 93902 ) on Wednesday March 30, 2011 @10:33AM (#35666536)

    The system of "certificate authority" on which SSL security ostensibly relies, has deteriorate to an essentially meaningless state.

    This system is based primarily on trust. Trust requires at least a basic level of knowledge or understanding (this is a crucial difference between "trust" and "faith" :) ).

    If you have not taken a look at your browser's "trusted certificate authority list" - now may be the time. I am a Firefox user, and I know that the list in Firefox contains numerous organizations with trustworthy names like "QuoVadis Limited", "TÜRKTRUST Elektronik Sertifika Hizmet Salaycs" and "XRamp Global Certification Authority". Do you know any of these companies? Do you personally have any reason to trust in their judgment, honesty or integrity?

    For each company Firefox web site holds a document by some accounting firm (like the KPMG which has proven itself untrustworthy and unreliable even in matters of finance where they presumably have a clue) that purports to audit intentions and pracitces of said company wrt. issuance of said certificates. To put it simply that's worth as much as their audit of Lehman Brothers.

    Bottom line - your browser essentially allows a random selection of highest bidders or politically connected entities to define what web sites are, in turn, to be trusted. It's pointless and there is little reason to believe that anything that say, sign or claim has any value whatsoever beyond the level of background noise.

    Treat SSL the way you treat SSH - save specific certificates for sites, and watch for unexpected changes. Regardless of what the certificate or the "green location bar" say, don't trust them further than you can throw them.

    • by airjrdn ( 681898 )
      Mod parent up. This isn't my area of expertise, but I did raise an eyebrow when I saw the "TÜRKTRUST" entry. I was glad to see someone else question it.
    • by luizd ( 716122 )
      That's the point! Just forget about omnipotent CAs. SSL certificates should be something like PGP. The trustness of it will be the result of a web of trust WOT. This would be very cool to see big companies doing campaign: sign my cert and get a discount/bonus/etc!
  • They are hopeless and should be dropped from the trust lists in browsers. Watching them go out of business will be a useful remainder to the remaining ones that they should work a little not just take the money.

  • I looked in my certificate bag in FF, and I got all kinds of Comodos there. What does that mean exactly to me, my personal data, and my small biz? thx!!!
  • Hope it's the RAs from my freshman and junior years in college. Those guys were both dicks.
  • However much you decide to trust the CAs your browser comes with, you can add some checks to the SSL validation process.

    1. Check that others are seeing the same cert that you are.
    2. Check that the cert for a site has been consistently what you're getting now.

    Tools for this: Perspectives [] and Certificate Patrol [].

    Example details from Perspectives check of an HTTPS site []
    Brief blog entry on Certificate Patrol []

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.