Yubikey is the first one-time password generator I saw that can also emit a static password. When you press the button, a constant pre-defined string is entered, just as if it was typed on the keyboard. Is it more secure than typing the password on the keyboard? Not at all (unless shoulder-surfing is an issue.) So how does it differ from entering a long key yourself? It does not. And still, local encryption is a valid use-case just for such a function.
A few days ago I got a Yubikey. While exploring use-cases for it, it occurred to me that there is a strong case for a mode of operation which is seldom (never?) used by IT departments: using the token while also supporting static passwords for the same services. It is not suitable for everyone, but it is suitable for the security-aware users. I will now introduce Yubikey in a few words, and then explain the purpose of adding support for one-time password to services that already support static passwords, without eliminating the latter.
Smart Grid security is one of the new emerging fields of security. Everybody knows that the new generation of electricity grids requires a new level of security against cyber-wars, cyber-terrorism, and all the rest. Yet, for the purchaser of Smart Grid solutions, it is not always obvious where to start and that to require. The topic is wide, complex, and not very well documented. I do not intend to write a compendium here, but I will share my perspective on how an integrator, or purchaser, may prefer to approach the problem of evaluating Smart Grid solutions from the security perspective.
A few days ago I was presented with an interesting question: What is the difference between Content Protection and Cyber Security? These domains of Information Security are so different and unrelated, that the difference in their definition is more or less the entire definition of both. This question, however, was asked in the context of the factors that make each of these problems hard to solve. Both problems are hard ones, and seem to require more than the state of the art in security can provide; yet they are hard problems for completely different reasons.
A few months ago, I wrote about the problem that emerges from having to rely on digital certificates that are issued by Certification Authorities of which we, the relying parties, are not the paying customers. As a result, we rely on the CA (Certification Authority) certification process, while there is no economic incentive for the CA to actually maintain a robust certification mechanism and to justify our trust.
Unexpectedly, this post, titled “The Inevitable Collapse of the Certificate Model”, quickly became the favorite post on my blog, pulling more views than all other individual posts.
One alternative that was suggested is by CAcert.org, a community based certification organization. Here are my thoughts on the ability of such a mechanism to solve the certification problem.