Visible to the public Run-Time Attack Detection in Cryptographic APIs

TitleRun-Time Attack Detection in Cryptographic APIs
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsFocardi, R., Squarcina, M.
Conference Name2017 IEEE 30th Computer Security Foundations Symposium (CSF)
ISBN Number978-1-5386-3217-8
KeywordsAPIs, application program interfaces, compositionality, critical infrastructures, cryptographic API, cryptographic services, cryptography, financial infrastructures, key security, key-management attacks, Monitoring, PKCS\#11, proof-of-concept log analysis tool, Proposals, pubcrawl, resilience, Resiliency, run-time attack detection, security API, security of data, sensitive cryptographic keys, Standards, Tools, Wrapping

Cryptographic APIs are often vulnerable to attacks that compromise sensitive cryptographic keys. In the literature we find many proposals for preventing or mitigating such attacks but they typically require to modify the API or to configure it in a way that might break existing applications. This makes it hard to adopt such proposals, especially because security APIs are often used in highly sensitive settings, such as financial and critical infrastructures, where systems are rarely modified and legacy applications are very common. In this paper we take a different approach. We propose an effective method to monitor existing cryptographic systems in order to detect, and possibly prevent, the leakage of sensitive cryptographic keys. The method collects logs for various devices and cryptographic services and is able to detect, offline, any leakage of sensitive keys, under the assumption that a key fingerprint is provided for each sensitive key. We define key security formally and we prove that the method is sound, complete and efficient. We also show that without key fingerprinting completeness is lost, i.e., some attacks cannot be detected. We discuss possible practical implementations and we develop a proof-of-concept log analysis tool for PKCS\#11 that is able to detect, on a significant fragment of the API, all key-management attacks from the literature.

Citation Keyfocardi_run-time_2017