Either someone is doing some serious academic work in researching password strengths, or someone is building a really great hashed password dictionary. The Steam community forum compromise, in which attackers gained access to a database containing usernames, encrypted passwords, and e-mail addresses, is just the latest in a series of compromises targeting a subset of the online community: gamers.
It’s difficult to say whether these attacks are increasing in frequency or whether media reporting and voluntary disclosure has created the illusion of a growing trend. In either case, our activities are continually moving online, often protected only by a username and password, instead of staying safe and warm in hard disks on our home desktop computers. The attack surface is increasing as more web services require more usernames and passwords and the opportunity for password reuse increases.
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Tags: authentication, security, strong passwords
A transition in cryptographic technologies is underway. New algorithms for encryption, authentication, digital signatures, and key exchange are needed to meet escalating security and performance requirements. Many of the algorithms that are in extensive use today cannot scale well to meet these needs. RSA signatures and DH key exchange are increasingly inefficient as security levels rise, and CBC encryption performs poorly at high data rates. An encryption system such as an IPsec Virtual Private Network uses many different component algorithms, and the level of security that it provides is limited by the lowest security level of each of those components. What we need is a complete algorithm suite in which each component provides a consistently high level of security and can scale well to high throughput and high numbers of connections. The next generation of encryption technologies meets this need by using Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) to replace RSA and DH, and using Galois/Counter Mode (GCM) of the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) block cipher for high-speed authenticated encryption. More on these algorithms below, but first, some good news: the new ISR Integrated Services Module brings these next-generation encryption (NGE) technologies to IPsec Virtual Private Networks, providing a security level of 128 bits or more. These technologies are future proof: the use of NGE enables a system to meet the security requirements of the next decade, and to interoperate with future products that leverage NGE to meet scalability requirements. NGE is based on IETF standards, and meets the government requirements for cryptography stipulated in FIPS-140.
NGE uses new crypto algorithms because they will scale better going forward. This is analogous to the way that jets replaced propeller planes; incremental improvements in propeller-driven aircraft are always possible, but it was necessary to adopt turbojets to achieve significant advances in speed and efficiency.
Tags: authentication, cryptography, encryption, suite b
Today marked an exciting milestone in the continuing convergence of Wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) and cellular technologies as the Wireless Broadband Association (WBA) and the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) co-announced that the industry’s first HotSpot 2.0 (HS 2.0) trials are scheduled for later this summer and the HS2.0 certification test beds will be available in mid 2012. HS 2.0 is an industry initiative to develop standards-based interoperable Wi-Fi authentication and handoff. In a nutshell, this enables a seamless handoff between cellular and Wi-Fi networks that allows mobile handset users to roam between the two networks without the need for additional authentication — much as you experience roaming between cellular networks while using your cell phone.
Industry organizations and standards bodies working on the HS 2.0 initiative include the WFA, focused on interoperability; the WBA, the industry group organizing the field trials; and the Global System for Mobile Communications Alliance (GSMA) that ensures the HotSpot 2.0 spec is aligned with the 3GPP framework.
Cisco is a strong supporter of the HS 2.0 initiative and is participating in the upcoming trials with its SP Wi-Fi Carrier Solution. I will continue to provide updates as we move forward with this timely and critical initiative. In the meantime, take a look at this white paper, “The Future of Hotspots: Making Wi-Fi as Secure and Easy to Use as Cellular,” which explains the technology behind HotSpot 2.0.
Tags: authentication, cellular, Cisco Wi-Fi Carrier Solution, Cisco WLAN, GSMA, HotSpot 2.0, HS2.0, seamless roaming, security, WBA, WFA, wi-fi