‘EFAIL’ Is Why We Can’t Have Golden Keys

5th June, 2018 By Adam Shostack

 

A deep dive into the issues surrounding an HTML email attack.

 

There’s a newly announced set of issues labeled the “EFAIL encryption flaw” that reduces the security of PGP and S/MIME emails. Some of the issues are about HTML email parsing, others are about the use of CBC encryption. All show how hard it is to engineer secure systems, especially when those systems are composed of many components that had disparate design goals.

 

According to the announcement from the EFAIL website:

 

In a nutshell, EFAIL abuses active content of HTML emails, for example externally loaded images or styles, to exfiltrate plaintext through requested URLs.

 

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