Items from security-related news (E59.Mar-2004)

FreeS/WAN Concludes

59, March 15, 2004,

Dear FreeS/WAN community,

After more than five years of active development, the FreeS/WAN project will be coming to an end.

The initial goal of the project was ambitious -- to secure the Internet using opportunisitically negotiated encryption, invisible and convenient to the user. (for more, see A secondary goal was to challenge then-current US export regulations, which prohibited the export of strong cryptography (such as triple DES encryption) of US origin or authorship.

Since the project's inception, there has been limited success on the political front. After the watershed Bernstein case (see the Bernstein case) US export regulations were relaxed. Since then, many US companies have exported strong cryptography, without seeming restriction other than having to notify the Bureau of Export Administration for tracking purposes.

This comfortable situation has perhaps created a false sense of security. The catch? Export regulations are not laws. The US government still reserves the right to change its export regulations on short notice, and there is no facility to challenge them directly in a court of law. This leaves the US crypto community and US Linux distributions in a position which seems safe, but is not legally protected -- where the US government might at any time *retroactively* regulate previously released code, by prohibiting its future export. This is why FreeS/WAN has always been developed outside the US (in Canada and in Greece), and why it has never (to the best of our knowledge) accepted US patches.

If FreeS/WAN has neither secured the Internet, nor secured the right of US citizens to export software that could do so, it has still had positive benefit.

With version 1.x, the FreeS/WAN team created a mature, well-tested IPsec VPN (Virtual Private Network) product for Linux. The Linux community has relied on it for some time, and it (or a patched variant) has shipped with several Linux distributions.

With version 2.x, FreeS/WAN development efforts focussed on increasing the usability of Opportunistic Encryption (OE), IPSec encryption without prearrangement. Configuration was simplified, FreeS/WAN's cryptographic offerings were streamlined, and the team promoted OE through talks and outreach.

However, nine months after the release of FreeS/WAN 2.00, OE has not caught on as we'd hoped. The Linux user community demands feature-rich VPNs for corporate clients, and while folks genuinely enjoy FreeS/WAN and its derivatives, the ways they use FreeS/WAN don't seem to be getting us any closer to the project's goal: widespread deployment of OE. For its part, OE requires more testing and community feedback before it is ready to be used without second thought. The project's funders have therefore chosen to withdraw their funding.

Anywhere you stop, a little of the road ahead is visible. FreeS/WAN 2.x might have developed further, for example to include ipv6 support.

Before the project stops, the team plans to do at least one more release. Release 2.06 will see FreeS/WAN making a late step toward its goal of being a simple, secure OE product with the removal of Transport Mode. This in keeping with one of Neils Fergusson's and Bruce Schneier's security recommendations, in _A Cryptographic Evaluation of IPsec_ ( 2.06 will also feature KLIPS). 2.06 will also feature KLIPS (FreeS/WAN's Kernel Layer IPsec machinery) changes to faciliate use with the 2.6 kernel series.

After Release 2.06, FreeS/WAN code will continue to be available for public use and tinkering. Our website will stay up, and our mailing lists at will continue to provide a forum for users to support one another. We expect that FreeS/WAN and its derivatives will be widely deployed for some time to come.

It is our hope that the public will one day be ready for, and demand, transparent, opportunistic encryption. Perhaps then some adventurous folks pick up FreeS/WAN 2.x and continue its development, making the project's original goal a reality.

Many thanks to the wonderful folks who've been part of the community over the last few years. Thanks to the developers who've created patches and written HOWTOs. Thanks to the volunteers who've donated Web space and time as system administrators. Thanks to the distributors who've puzzled out the fine points of integrating our software with others'. Finally, thanks to the users who've tested our software, shared interoperation success stories, and given others a helping hand. We couldn't have done it without you.

Best Regards,

Claudia Schmeing
for the Linux FreeS/WAN Project

E59, March 15, 2004,

A new version of Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 180-2, Secure Hash Standard (SHS), is available at This version contains a change notice that specifies SHA-224 and discusses truncation of the hash function output in order to provide interoperability.

NIST is planning a workshop on Random Number Generation to be held from July 19-22, 2004. During this workshop, a draft standard that is being developed as ANSI X9.82 will be presented and discussed. This draft standard consists of three parts. Part 1 contains an overview and basic principles of random number generation. Part 2 discusses non-deterministic random bit generators. Part 3 discusses deterministic random bit generators (also known as pseudorandom number generators). A draft of the standard will be made available on the RNG web page ( a few weeks prior to the workshop. The currently reserved room has a maximum capacity of 75, so attendance will be limited. More information will be available in the future on the RNG web page. For further information, contact Elaine Barker (301-975-2911; or John Kelsey (301-975-5101;

Elaine Barker
National Institute of Standards and Technology
100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8930
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8930

Phone: 301-975-2911
Fax: 301-948-1233

E59, March 15, 2004,

US-CERT is releasing security alerts and tips, rather than the former CERT advisories. See for more information.

CyLab, the Carnegie Mellon CyberSecurity Lab, was established last year at CMU, as a multi-disciplinary research lab in cooperation with faculty, research staff, and students from the Software Engineering Institute/CERT Coordination Center, the School of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Department of Statistics, Engineering and Public Policy, and the Heinz School of Business.

The Carnegie Mellon CyLab web site can be found at  

E59, March 15, 2004  

From Gene Spafford

March 22-26 has officially been declared "Indiana Information Security Week" by the Governor and House of Indiana. This is to recognize the various security events being held at CERIAS that week, including our annual security symposium.

The public is invited to register to attend the symposium: Portions of the symposium, including some of the presentations, will be broadcast on the Access Grid. These events will be noted (soon) on the schedule posted online.

E59, March 15, 2004,

Contributed by Richard Schroeppel

From: Skroch, Michael
Sent: 1/14/2004 7:21 AM
Subject: Article: Critical flaws found in VoIP products using H.323 protocol,10801,89041,00.html

Story by Jaikumar Vijayan
JANUARY 13, 2004

Several critical vulnerabilities have been discovered in voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and videoconferencing products based on the H.323 protocol that's used in IP telephony applications to exchange audio and video communications.

VoIP products from several vendors, including Microsoft Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and Nortel Networks Ltd., are affected by the flaws, with risks including denial-of-service attacks and remote system compromise, according to an advisory from Atlanta-based Internet Security Systems Inc. (ISS).

The flaws were discovered by the U.K.'s National Infrastructure Security Coordination Centre using a test suite designed by the Finland-based Oulu University Secure Programming Group (OUSPG). The OUSPG test suite was designed to identity flaws in the H.323 protocol.

A similar test suite developed by the OUSPG led to the discovery in 2002 of several implementation specific flaws in the Simple Network Management Protocol.

According to Neel Mehta, a security researcher at ISS's X-Force group, the vulnerabilities are the result of coding errors in the H.323 implementations from each of the vendors.

The vulnerabilities in Cisco's Internetworking Operating System (IOS) software caused the biggest concern because of the widespread use of the operating system on Internet routers, Mehta said.

According to a Cisco advisory, all of its products running IOS and supporting H.323 packet processing are affected. "This may include the Network Address Translation (NAT) components of Cisco devices, and security features in Cisco devices such as Content-Based Access Control," according to an ISS advisory.

Several other Cisco products that don't run IOS are also affected, including Cisco CallManager Versions 3.0 through 3.3, Cisco BTS 10200 Softswitch and the Cisco 7905 IP Phone H.323 Software Version 1.00, according to a statement from the company.

"The vulnerabilities discovered in the affected products can be easily and repeatedly demonstrated with the use of the [test suite]" the Cisco advisory said. It goes on to add that exploitation of the flaws could result in denial-of-service attacks, system crashes and performance degradation. Cisco in its statement announced several fixes and work-around for the vulnerabilities.

In a similar advisory, Microsoft warned users of a critical vulnerability in the H.323 filter for its Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000. Successful exploitation of the flaw could allow attackers to take complete control of a compromised system, said the Microsoft advisory.

In advising users to patch affected software immediately, Microsoft also announced work-arounds that can block attacks. One of them is to disable H.323 filters, thereby blocking H.323 traffic.

An advisory posted by the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh listed more than 60 vendors whose products could be affected by H.323 flaws.

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