Was NSA behind Back Door in Juniper Software? | Wired

OpenSSL will issue an emergency patch on Thursday following discovery of a critical security flaw.
OpenSSL will issue an emergency patch on Thursday following discovery of a critical security flaw.

In-brief: a report at Wired suggests that U.S. intelligence agencies may have had a hand in placing a back door in Juniper’s ScreenOS, the operating system run by a number of the company’s security products. 

Kim Zetter over at Wired has moved the story about a back door in Juniper Networks ScreenOS operating system forward today with an article that presents details of research that suggests that U.S. intelligence agencies may have had a hand in placing the secret back door in Juniper’s products.

From the article:

Security researchers believe they have finally solved the mystery around how a sophisticated backdoor embedded in Juniper firewalls works.

The researchers’ findings suggest that the NSA may be responsible for that backdoor, at least indirectly. Even if the NSA did not plant the backdoor in the company’s source code, the spy agency may in fact be indirectly responsible for it by having created weaknesses the attackers exploited.

Evidence uncovered by Ralf-Philipp Weinmann, founder and CEO of Comsecuris, a security consultancy in Germany, suggests that the Juniper culprits repurposed an encryption backdoor previously believed to have been engineered by the NSA, and tweaked it to use for their own spying purposes. Weinmann reported his findings in an extensive post published late Monday.

According to Weinmann’s research, whomever placed the back door in the ScreenOS software did so by exploiting weaknesses the NSA allegedly placed in a government-approved encryption algorithm known as Dual_EC. That’s a pseudo-random number generator that Juniper uses to encrypt traffic passing through the VPN in its NetScreen firewalls.

The attackers also took advantage of a mistake Juniper apparently made in configuring the VPN encryption scheme in its NetScreen devices, according to Weinmann and other cryptographers who examined the issue. This made it possible for the culprits to pull off their attack, Zetter reports.

Read the full article here: Researchers Solve Juniper Backdoor Mystery; Signs Point to NSA. You can read Weinmann’s technical analysis of the back door here

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