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Category:   OS (Microsoft)  >   Microsoft Crypto API Vendors:   Microsoft
(Microsoft Issues Windows 2000 Patch) Microsoft Internet Explorer SSL Implementation Flaw in Following Certificate Chains Allows Remote Users to Conduct Man-in-the-Middle Attacks to Obtain Unencrypted Data from the Browser
SecurityTracker Alert ID:  1005211
SecurityTracker URL:  http://securitytracker.com/id/1005211
CVE Reference:   CVE-2002-0862   (Links to External Site)
Date:  Sep 11 2002
Impact:   Disclosure of user information, User access via network
Fix Available:  Yes  Vendor Confirmed:  Yes  
Version(s): 98, 98SE, Me, NT 4.0, NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition, 2000, XP
Description:   A vulnerability was reported in Microsoft Internet Explorer's secure sockets layer (SSL) protocol implementation. A remote user with access to a target user's encrypted data stream could conduct a man-in-the-middle attack to obtain the unencrypted data. A remote user may also be able to take control of the target user's system.

The vulnerability reportedly exists in the way in which Internet Explorer (IE) follows certificate chains. A browser should verify that the CN field of the certificate matches the server's domain, that it is signed by the intermediate certificate authority (CA), and that the intermediate CA's certificate is signed by a known CA. According to the report, the browser should also check that all intermediate certificates have valid CA Basic Constraints.

It is reported that IE does not check the Basic Constraints. As a result, a server with a valid certificate (signed by a valid CA) for any domain can apparently generate a valid CA-signed certificate for any other domain (from the perspective of the IE browser, that is).

To exploit this, the remote user must generate a valid certificate for a domain within the user's administrative control and obtain a valid signature from a known CA (e.g., VeriSign). Then, the remote user can generate a certificate for an arbitrary domain and sign it with their own CA.

Because IE does not check the Basic Constraints on the certificate for the arbitrary domain, IE will reportedly accept this certificate chain as valid for the arbitrary domain.

A remote user can thus spoof any domain using a man-in-the-middle attack.

It is reported that there will be no browser warnings presented to the target user. However, if the target user chooses to view the certificate of the intended web site, the target user will see the attacker's certificate in the chain.

It is also reported that IE 6 may not follow the chain in certain cases, depending on what content the valid CA places in the Basic Constraint field.

[Editor's note: In November 2002, Microsoft reported that there is a closely related variant (CVE: CVE-2002-1183) to this vulnerability relating to certificate validation. However, the new vulnerability may allow a remote user to gain control over the target user's system. Only Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows NT 4.0, Terminal Server Edition are affected by this new variant, the vendor reported. The vendor did not provide details of this new variant.]

Impact:   A remote user with the ability to conduct a man-in-the middle attack can spoof any domain and obtain the target user's unencrypted data.

A remote user may also be able to take control of the target user's system.

Solution:   Microsoft has released a patch for several operating systems and plans to release patches for others shortly.

For Microsoft Windows 98:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows98/downloads/contents/WUCritical/q328145/default.asp

For Windows 98 Second Edition:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows98/downloads/contents/WUCritical/q328145/default.asp

For Windows Me:

http://download.microsoft.com/download/WINME/PATCH/25386/WINME/EN-US/328145USAM.EXE

Windows NT 4.0:

http://www.microsoft.com/ntserver/nts/downloads/critical/q328145/default.asp

For Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition:

http://www.microsoft.com/ntserver/terminalserver/downloads/critical/q328145/default.asp

For Windows 2000:

http://www.microsoft.com/Downloads/Release.asp?ReleaseID=42431

For Windows XP and Windows XP 64 bit Edition:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/q328145.asp

For Microsoft Office v.X for Mac:

To be released shortly

For Microsoft Office 2001 for Mac:

To be released shortly

For Microsoft Office 98 for the Macintosh:

To be released shortly

For Microsoft Internet Explorer for Mac (for OS 8.1 to 9.x):

To be released shortly

For Microsoft Internet Explorer for Mac (for OS X):

To be released shortly

For Microsoft Outlook Express 5.0.5 for Mac:

To be released shortly

Microsoft notes that the patch for Windows 98 can be installed on Windows 98 Gold. The patch for Windows 98 SE can be installed on Windows 98 SE Gold. The patch for Windows Millennium can be installed on systems running Windows Millennium Gold. The patch for Windows NT 4.0 can be installed on systems running Windows NT 4.0 SP6a. The patch for Windows NT 4.0, Terminal Server Edition, can be installed on systems running Windows NT 4.0, Terminal Server Edition SP6. The patch for Windows 2000 can be installed on Windows 2000 SP2 or SP3. The patch for Windows XP can be installed on systems running Windows XP Gold and the pending Windows XP SP1.

Microsoft plans to include this fix in Windows 2000 SP4 and Windows XP SP2.

Microsoft has issued Knowledge Base article Q328145 regarding this issue, available on the Microsoft Online Support web site:

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;Q328145
http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=fh;en-us;kbhowto

Vendor URL:  www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-050.asp (Links to External Site)
Cause:   State error
Underlying OS:  Windows (Any)

Message History:   This archive entry is a follow-up to the message listed below.
Aug 6 2002 Microsoft Internet Explorer SSL Implementation Flaw in Following Certificate Chains Allows Remote Users to Conduct Man-in-the-Middle Attacks to Obtain Unencrypted Data from the Browser



 Source Message Contents

Subject:  Microsoft Security Bulletin MS02-050: Certificate Validation Flaw Could Enable Identity Spoofing (Q328145) (V3.0)


-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----

- ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Title:      Certificate Validation Flaw Could Enable Identity 
            Spoofing (Q328145)
Released:   September 04, 2002
Revised:    September 09, 2002 (version 3.0)
Software:   Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office for Mac, Microsoft
            Internet Explorer for Mac, or Microsoft Outlook Express
            for Mac.
Impact:     Identity spoofing.
Max Risk:   Critical  

Bulletin:   MS02-050

Microsoft encourages customers to review the Security Bulletin at: 
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-050.asp .
- ----------------------------------------------------------------------

Reason for Revision:
====================
Normally, Microsoft releases the patches for all affected products
simultaneously, in order to provide a complete solution. However, 
exploit code for this issue has already been posted, and we are
therefore releasing the patches as they become available, in order
to allow customers to begin protecting their systems as quickly as
possible.

The bulletin has been updated to include patch availability for
Windows 2000.

Patches are now available for:
 - Windows 98
 - Windows 98 Second Edition
 - Windows Me
 - Windows NT 4.0
 - Windows NT 4.0, Terminal Server Edition
 - Windows 2000
 - Windows XP
 - Windows XP 64 bit Edition

Patches will be available shortly for:
 - Microsoft Office v.X for Mac
 - Microsoft Office 2001 for Mac
 - Microsoft Office 98 for the Macintosh
 - Microsoft Internet Explorer for Mac (for OS 8.1 to 9.x)
 - Microsoft Internet Explorer for Mac (for OS X)
 - Microsoft Outlook Express 5.0.5 for Mac

Customers should also review the caveats section of the bulletin 
which discusses a warning message that may be displayed after 
installing the patch.  Updated patches are under development to
eliminate this side effect.

Issue:
======
The IETF Profile of the X.509 certificate standard defines several
optional fields that can be included in a digital certificate. One
of these is the Basic Constraints field, which indicates the
maximum allowable length of the certificate's chain and whether the
certificate is a Certificate Authority or an end-entity certificate.
However, the APIs within CryptoAPI that construct and validate
certificate chains (CertGetCertificateChain(), 
CertVerifyCertificateChainPolicy(), and WinVerifyTrust()) do not
check the Basic Constraints field. The same flaw, unrelated to
CryptoAPI, is also present in several Microsoft products for
Macintosh. 

The vulnerability could enable an attacker who had a valid
end-entity certificate to issue a subordinate certificate that,
although bogus, would nevertheless pass validation. Because
CryptoAPI is used by a wide range of applications, this could
enable a variety of identity spoofing attacks. These are
discussed in detail in the bulletin FAQ, but could include: 

 - Setting up a web site that poses as a different web site, and
   "proving" its identity by establishing an SSL session as the
   legitimate web site. 

 - Sending emails signed using a digital certificate that
   purportedly belongs to a different user. 

 - Spoofing certificate-based authentication systems to gain
   entry as a highly privileged user. 

 - Digitally signing malware using an Authenticode certificate
   that claims to have been issued to a company users might trust.

Mitigating Factors:
====================
Overall: 

 - The user could always manually check a certificate chain, and
   might notice in the case of a spoofed chain that there was an
   unfamiliar intermediate CA. 

 - Unless the attacker's digital certificate were issued by a CA
   in the user's trust list, the certificate would generate a 
   warning when validated. 

 - The attacker could only spoof certificates of the same type as
   the one he or she possessed. In the case where the attacker
   attempted an attack using a high-value certificate such as
   Authenticode certificates, this would necessitate obtaining
   a legitimate certificate of the same type - which could
   require the attacker to prove his or her identity or
   entitlement to the issuing CA. 

Web Site Spoofing: 

 - The vulnerability provides no way for the attacker to cause the
   user to visit the attacker's web site. The attacker would need
   to redirect the user to a site under the attacker's control
   using a method such as DNS poisoning. As discussed in the
   bulletin FAQ, this is extremely difficult to carry out in
   practice. 

 - The vulnerability could not be used to extract information from
   the user's computer. The vulnerability could only be used by an
   attacker as a means of convincing a user that he or she has
   reached a trusted site, in the hope of persuading the user to
   voluntarily provide sensitive data. 

Email Signing: 

 - The "from" address on the spoofed mail would need to match the
   one specified in the certificate, giving rise to either of two
   scenarios if a recipient replied to the mail. In the case where
   the "from" and "reply-to" fields matched, replies would be sent
   to victim of the attack rather than the attacker. In the case
   where the fields didn't match, replies would obviously be
   addressed to someone other than ostensible sender. Either case
   could be a tip-off that an attack was underway. 

Certificate-based Authentication: 

 - In most cases where certificates are used for user 
   authentication, additional information contained within the
   certificate is necessary to complete the authentication. The
   type and format of such data typically varies with every
   installation, and as a result significant insider information
   would likely be required for a successful attack. 

Authenticode Spoofing: 

 - To the best of Microsoft's knowledge, such an attack could not
   be carried out using any commercial CA's Authenticode
   certificates. These certificates contain policy information
   that causes the Basic Constraints field to be correctly
   evaluated, and none allow end-entity certificates to act as CAs. 

 - Even if an attack were successfully carried out using an
   Authenticode certificate that had been issued by a corporate
   PKI, it wouldn't be possible to avoid warning messages, as trust
   in Authenticode is brokered on a per-certificate, not per-name,
   basis.

Risk Rating:
============
Microsoft Windows platforms:
 - Internet systems: Critical
 - Intranet systems: Critical
 - Client systems: Critical

Microsoft programs for Mac:
 - Internet systems: None
 - Intranet systems: None
 - Client systems: Moderate

Patch Availability:
===================
- - Patches are available to fix this vulnerability for Windows 98,
  Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0, 
  Windows NT 4.0, Terminal Server Edition, Windows 2000,
  Windows XP, and Windows XP 64 bit Edition.  
  Patches for Windows 2000, Microsoft Office for Mac, Microsoft
  Internet Explorer for Mac, and Microsoft Outlook Express
  for Mac will be released shortly.
  Please read the Security Bulletin at
  http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/ms02-050.asp
  for information on obtaining this patch.
- ---------------------------------------------------------------------

THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THE MICROSOFT KNOWLEDGE BASE IS PROVIDED
"AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. MICROSOFT DISCLAIMS ALL 
WARRANTIES, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING THE WARRANTIES OF 
MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. IN NO EVENT 
SHALL MICROSOFT CORPORATION OR ITS SUPPLIERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY 
DAMAGES WHATSOEVER INCLUDING DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, 
CONSEQUENTIAL, LOSS OF BUSINESS PROFITS OR SPECIAL DAMAGES, EVEN 
IF MICROSOFT CORPORATION OR ITS SUPPLIERS HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE 
POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. SOME STATES DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION
OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY FOR CONSEQUENTIAL OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES 
SO THE FOREGOING LIMITATION MAY NOT APPLY.


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