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In-depth crypto attacks: "It always takes two bugs"

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Abstract: Real-world cryptographic systems rarely meet academic expectations, with most systems’ being shown “insecure” at some point. At the same time, our IT-driven world has not yet fallen apart, suggesting that many protection mechanisms are “secure enough” for how they are employed.

This talk argues that hacks with real-world implications are mostly the result of being able to break security assumptions on multiple design layers. Protection designs that focus on a single security function and neglect complimentary layers are hence more prone to compromise.

We look at three widely deployed protection systems from the cell phone, automotive, and smart-card domains and show how technology abuse arises from the combination of best-practice deviations on multiple design layers.

Bio: Karsten Nohl is a cryptographer and security researcher with a degree in Computer Engineering from UVa. Karsten likes to test security assumptions in proprietary systems and typically breaks them.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Security Seminar series.

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