Re: [TLS] consensus on backwards compatibility changes (Martin Rex) Wed, 28 January 2015 20:42 UTC

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To: Florian Weimer <>
Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:42:36 +0100
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Subject: Re: [TLS] consensus on backwards compatibility changes
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Florian Weimer wrote:
> Dave Garrett wrote:
>> With regard to this topic, please see the previous discussion on list.
>> (the "drop obsolete SSL 2 backwards compatibility" thread)
>> Implementers have specifically pushed back against dropping all
>> SSL 2 stuff, in particular because they think it is valid to still
>> negotiate TLS 1.2 using an SSL version 2.0 client hello.
> But if you do this, the handshake uses SHA-1 only, per section

rfc5246 section
I think you are misreading the TLSv1.2 specification.

The use of SHA-256 for the TLSv1.2 PRF and for the handshake message
hash that goes into the the Finished handshake message depends only
on the chosen cipher suite and the protocol (v1.2), and is independent
from whether the client sent a signature algoritm extension and what
algorithms were listed in that extension.

There are several serious design flaws (resulting in serious weaknesses)
in the TLSv1.2 signature algorithm extension, however.  TLSv1.2 is the
only TLS protocol version where (rsa,md5) is a valid signature algorithm
for creating "digitally-signed" PDUs (ServerKeyExchange and
CertificateVerify), and that was a terribly stupid decision.
Even (rsa,sha1) is significantly weaker than what every prior TLS
protocol version, including SSLv3 had been using (rsa,sha1+md5).

Since the TLSv1.2 signature algorithm extension semantics have been so
terribly misspecified, it will take quite a while before TLSv1.2 clients
can safely remove (rsa,sha1) from ClientHello (unless they continue
doing reconnect fallbacks after handshake failures, aka downgrade dances).

I would not have imagined something as broken as the TLSv1.2 signature
algorithms extension would (a) get proposed and (b) get standardized,
but it happened, as you can see in rfc5246.  When I noticed the
brokenness when reading rfc5246, I hoped that implementors would
recognize the obvious security problem and refuse to implement it.
Well, some hearts don't miss a single bleed.