SECURITY FIRM RSA has warned users of encryption software to avoid a community developed part of it that has more than a whiff of US National Security Agency (NSA) meddling about it.
The firm said that customers that have adopted its BSAFE toolkit and Data Protection Manager security software should back away from Dual EC_DRBG, or Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generation component.
The RSA warning follows similar advice from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). "Recent community commentary has called into question the trustworthiness of these default elliptic curve points," said NIST in a monthly alert (PDF).
"NIST works to publish the strongest cryptographic standards possible, and uses a transparent, public process to rigorously vet its standards and guidelines. If vulnerabilities are found, NIST works with the cryptographic community to address them as quickly as possible. NIST strongly recommends that, pending the resolution of the security concerns and the re-issuance of SP 800-90A, the Dual_EC_DRBG... no longer be used."
RSA concurred with this and said that it recommended that customers take an alternate route to encryption. The concern is that the NSA might have weakened the elliptic curve specification used in order to more easily break encryption employing it.
"RSA determined it appropriate to issue an advisory to all our RSA BSAFE and RSA Data Protection Manager customers recommending they choose one of the different cryptographic Pseudo-Random Number Generators (PRNG) built into the RSA BSAFE toolkit," it said in a note.
"We are now working with customers to ensure they are using the strongest and safest cryptographic methods possible. RSA always acts in the best interest of its customers and under no circumstances does RSA design or enable any backdoors in our products. Decisions about the features and functionality of RSA products are our own." µ
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