Category: "Security Engineering"

About the Security Engineering category

  22:47, by Hagai Bar-El   , 49 words
Categories: Security Engineering

The Security Engineering category contains articles that discuss analysis of requirements and solutions that are of interest to the security engineer. As opposed to the IT Security category, the articles of this category address not the secure deployment of systems, but the secure design of systems -- software and hardware.

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  2014-10-11

Snapchat leak -- who is to blame?

  10:52, by Hagai Bar-El   , 242 words
Categories: IT Security, Security Engineering

Snapchat is in the headlines again for allegedly leaking out nude photos of users. They strictly deny that there was any breach of their servers, and blame third party applications for leaking this data. This might be the case, but it is not enough to take them off the hook, especially given that their product is mostly about confidence. There are more and better instant-messaging apps out there, and whoever uses Snapchat uses it exactly so such events do not happen, whatever the excuse is.

I have no idea what exactly happened, if at all, but if a third party app got to access Snapchat data, then this Snapchat data was either

  • obtained by the third-party app on the user device, or
  • obtained by the third party app by impersonating the legitimate Snapchat app against the Snapchat server.

On a typical (i.e., un-rooted) Android or iOS device, apps can store their data so it is not readily available to other, unauthorized, apps; it would have been careless to leave such photos behind for the asking. On the other hand, Snapchat were accused several months ago for improperly authenticating their clients by the server, allowing easy impersonation of Snapchat client apps. I was quoted in USA Today yesterday addressing the need to properly authenticate clients.

Lastly I will add that there is also the possibility that no breach has ever occurred, and that the entire image dump is a hoax. Time will tell.

  2014-04-03

Bitcoin does not provide anonymity

  22:22, by Hagai Bar-El   , 762 words
Categories: Security Engineering, Security Policies, Security, Counter-media

When people discuss Bitcoin, one of its properties that is often considered is its presumable anonymity. In this respect, it is often compared to cash. However, it shall be recognized and understood that Bitcoin is not as anonymous as cash; far from it, actually. Its anonymity relies on the concept of pseudonyms, which delivers some (unjustified) sense of anonymity, but very weak anonymity in practice.

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My new patent on secure key provisioning

  12:02, by Hagai Bar-El   , 151 words
Categories: Personal News, Security Engineering

I recently got a US patent application granted by the Patent and Trademark Office. The patent bears the title "Methods Circuits Devices and Systems for Provisioning of Cryptographic Data to One or More Electronic Devices".

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  2014-01-29

SnapChat and client authentication

  21:37, by Hagai Bar-El   , 25 words
Categories: Security Engineering

A post I have written about the SnapChat hack, and what it can teach us on the need for secure execution and secure client authentication.

  2013-09-15

How risky to privacy is Apple's fingerprint reader?

  22:11, by Hagai Bar-El   , 964 words
Categories: IT Security, Security Engineering

Congratulations to Apple for featuring a fingerprint reader as part of its new iPhone. It was reported by The Wall Street Journal here, in the blog of Bruce Schneier here, by Time Tech here, and in dozens of other places. Very much expectedly, this revelation spurred anxiety among the conspiracy theorists out there. The two common concerns that were raised are:

  • Apple will have a database of all our fingerprints.
  • What if someone breaks into the device and gets at our fingerprint?

(There is another line of concern, related to the fifth amendment and how its protection may be foiled by authenticating using biometrics alone, but this is a legal concern which is off topic.)

While a bit of paranoid thinking is always helpful, security engineering requires more than crying out each time a mega-corporate launches a new technology that involves private data. Assets and threats need to be determined, and then we can decide whether or not the risk is worth the benefits.

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  2013-02-05

My new patent on a secure execution environment

  23:32, by Hagai Bar-El   , 119 words
Categories: Personal News, Security Engineering

I recently got a US patent application granted by the Patent and Trademark Office. The patent bears the title "Device, System, and Method of Securely Executing Applications".

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  2011-07-30

Handling the Security Aspect of Smart Grid Product Purchasing

  23:33, by Hagai Bar-El   , 1581 words
Categories: Security Engineering, Cyber Security

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.

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