[ISN] Weak crypto casts shadow over ecommerce

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Fri Apr 05 2002 - 00:36:04 PST

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    By John Leyden
    Posted: 04/04/2002 at 15:19 GMT
    US export restrictions and local legislation on cryptography still
    casts a shadow over the security of ecommerce site even years after
    regulations to permit the use of strong encryption.
    That's according to a survey of SSL servers by Netcraft, carried out
    last month, which discovered 18 per cent of supposedly secure servers
    use potentially vulnerable key lengths.
    In most European countries more than 25 per cent are still using short
    keys, and in France, which had laws restricting the use of
    cryptography until relatively recently, over 40 per cent of sites are
    using short keys. This compares to under 16 per cent of secure servers
    in North America which use weak encryption.
    Since January 2000, the US has allowed companies to export any
    encryption product to commercial firms, individuals and other
    non-government end-users without a license. These regulations include
    exports to all countries bar exports to Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North
    Korea, Sudan, and Syria, which the US classifies as "terrorist
    supporting states".
    Netcraft reckons export grade cryptography remains quite common
    outside North America partly because the relative weakness of the
    server's choice of cryptography is not obvious to sys admins, so there
    is so little pressure to make the change.
    If browser developers include an indication of key length - rather
    than the present lock symbol displayed on all SSL sessions - this may
    prompt the necessary upgrades, Netcraft suggests. Admins could act
    before then, of course, but given how slowly people applied patches to
    upgrade well known flaws to Microsoft's IIS Web server software
    perhaps an additional incentive is needed.
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