Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MAC-then-encrypt - also harmful, also hard to do in Solaris

Hello again!

Kenny Paterson's once again turning the theoretical into practical. This time he's pointed out that if one configures IPsec to MAC-then-encrypt (do packet authentication first, THEN encrypt the packet), one is open to cryptographic attack. Here's a citation for his ACM CCS paper.

The good news is that we cannot configure the IPsec SPD to perform MAC-then-encrypt at all. One could configure transport mode to just MAC, then have the packet transit a tunnel that just encrypts, but then you'll see warnings about the encryption-only tunnel configuration. This has been true for a LONG time (starting with S9, maybe even S8).

So basically, we don't make it easy for you to shoot yourself in the foot this way. You really have to try, and as I pointed out earlier, the encryption-only part will warn you.