Security researchers discover critical flaw in PGP encryption that reveals plaintext

Security researchers discover critical flaw in PGP encryption that reveals plaintext

So, users guides for email clients Thunderbird, Apple Mail and Outlook.

The research paper details a method whereby the simple omission of not closing the URL with quotes can enable an attacker to get access to the decrypted email contents.

The attacker changes an encrypted email in a particular way and sends this changed encrypted email to the victim.

Attackers having access to encrypted emails can use these vulnerabilities to exfiltrate emails in plaintext by embedding invisible snippets of text in new emails and getting email plaintexts open in on an attacker-controlled server.

Prior to the leak, Schnizel stated that there were "no reliable fixes", and recommended that affected users disable breached encryption software.

Efail, as the vulnerability is called, potentially cracks OpenPGP and S/MIME, two widely used end-to-end encryption technologies in plaintext email. The security flaw allows potential hackers to use that element to expose the most popular email encryption standards, the researchers said. They also advised users to stop using the encryption tools S/MIME and OpenPGP. Numerous email clients also support S/MIME - Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions - for sending encrypted communications and digitally signing messages.

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A group of computer security researchers in Europe say they have discovered vulnerabilities that relate to two techniques used to encrypt emails and data: PGP and S/MIME.

Anyone who actively wants their email communication to be secure and private - and uses common email security plugins - should take notice.

PGP or Pretty Good Privacy was developed in 1991 by Phil Zimmermann.

EFF said in a blog post that users should uninstall PGP until the flaw is patched. "We use CBC/CFB gadgets to inject malicious plaintext snippets into encrypted emails that abuse existing and standard-conforming backchannels, for example, in HTML, CSS, or x509 functionality, to exfiltrate the full plaintext after decryption".

UPDATE 2: Because some researchers started disclosing details about the vulnerability ahead of schedule, the efail.de website is now live, along with the research paper, both containing more info on the EFAIL vulnerability. It was developed by RSA Data Security and is now built into most modern email software.

Nobody knows. But we do know that end-to-end encrypted emails aren't as secure as we thought they were, and that means we'll have to continue to be careful about how we communicate. They suggest there will be more on the story released tomorrow and they did suggest that all of these companies that use PGP have been previously warned of this situation.

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