What's that? SSH can still use RC4? Not for much longer, promise

IETF hackathoners point the 'die-die-die' gun at another buggy cipher


A hackathon next week will see 'net developers get to work consigning more insecure cryptography to the /dev/null of history.

The Internet Engineering Task Force's 103rd meeting kicks off in Thailand with the customary hackathon starting on 3 November, and one of the agenda items is getting the RC4 cipher out of SSH (secure shell).

It's so very easy on paper. All you need is a brief Internet-Draft, which changes the word "optional" to "MUST NOT" – that's the table change in RFC 4253, section 6.3, which states 128-bit RC4 ("arcfour" in the text) is no longer supported.

In deployed SSH software, it's a bit more than the stroke of a pen.

Getting ready for the sleepless nights, if not the travel, is a group called Cyberstorm.mu from Mauritius (whose work we've discussed here before), and this time round they'll be working on the SSH RC4 deprecation.

Logan Velvindron, who co-authored the "curdle RC4 die-die-die" Draft, told El Reg he expects removing RC4 from core SSH libraries to be straightforward. It's out in the wild, where there will be public-facing servers expecting RC4 ciphers, that the regression will bump into problems.

One challenge is that nobody really knows what's "out there", he said, so the Cyberstorm group has set about gathering data. "We are working on a study of the world-wide usage rate for RC4 on public facing SSH servers to get some concrete data," he said.

Cyberstorm.mu, which Velvindron said will be the largest group of remote participants in the hackathon, will also be leading groups adding GnuTLS 1.3 support in various applications, and expanding features to a Drupal HTTP 451 error module (the error signals that a page is blocked for legal reasons like censorship; Velvindron's colleague Veegish Ramdani from the University of Mauritius wrote the original module).

The IETF meeting that follows the hackathon has quite a workload ahead of it.

The QUIC working group hopes to finalise its base specifications, so that the proposals can reach "Last Call" status early in 2019 (signalling that community review is nearly done, and the nine QUIC drafts will start getting RFC standard status).

As IETF chair Alissa Cooper wrote, there will also be lots of action in various routing areas. The Deterministic Networking and IEEE 802 Time-Sensitive Networking groups will hold a joint workshop, along with network management (YANG and the like), and plenty more for El Reg to watch for interesting developments. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • DuckDuckGo tries to explain why its browsers won't block some Microsoft web trackers
    Meanwhile, Tails 5.0 users told to stop what they're doing over Firefox flaw

    DuckDuckGo promises privacy to users of its Android, iOS browsers, and macOS browsers – yet it allows certain data to flow from third-party websites to Microsoft-owned services.

    Security researcher Zach Edwards recently conducted an audit of DuckDuckGo's mobile browsers and found that, contrary to expectations, they do not block Meta's Workplace domain, for example, from sending information to Microsoft's Bing and LinkedIn domains.

    Specifically, DuckDuckGo's software didn't stop Microsoft's trackers on the Workplace page from blabbing information about the user to Bing and LinkedIn for tailored advertising purposes. Other trackers, such as Google's, are blocked.

    Continue reading
  • Despite 'key' partnership with AWS, Meta taps up Microsoft Azure for AI work
    Someone got Zuck'd

    Meta’s AI business unit set up shop in Microsoft Azure this week and announced a strategic partnership it says will advance PyTorch development on the public cloud.

    The deal [PDF] will see Mark Zuckerberg’s umbrella company deploy machine-learning workloads on thousands of Nvidia GPUs running in Azure. While a win for Microsoft, the partnership calls in to question just how strong Meta’s commitment to Amazon Web Services (AWS) really is.

    Back in those long-gone days of December, Meta named AWS as its “key long-term strategic cloud provider." As part of that, Meta promised that if it bought any companies that used AWS, it would continue to support their use of Amazon's cloud, rather than force them off into its own private datacenters. The pact also included a vow to expand Meta’s consumption of Amazon’s cloud-based compute, storage, database, and security services.

    Continue reading
  • Atos pushes out HPC cloud services based on Nimbix tech
    Moore's Law got you down? Throw everything at the problem! Quantum, AI, cloud...

    IT services biz Atos has introduced a suite of cloud-based high-performance computing (HPC) services, based around technology gained from its purchase of cloud provider Nimbix last year.

    The Nimbix Supercomputing Suite is described by Atos as a set of flexible and secure HPC solutions available as a service. It includes access to HPC, AI, and quantum computing resources, according to the services company.

    In addition to the existing Nimbix HPC products, the updated portfolio includes a new federated supercomputing-as-a-service platform and a dedicated bare-metal service based on Atos BullSequana supercomputer hardware.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022