Tag Archives: crypto

Explain Cisco ETA to Me in a Way That Even My Neighbor Can Understand It

Cisco Encrypted Traffic Analytics (ETA) sounds just a little bit like magic the first time you hear about it. Cisco is basically proposing that when you turn on ETA, your network can (magically!) detect malicious traffic (ie, malware, trojans, ransomware, etc) inside encrypted flows. Further, Cisco proposes that ETA can differentiate legitimate encrypted traffic from malicious encrypted traffic.

Uhmm, how?

The immediate mental model that springs to mind is that of a web proxy that intercepts HTTP traffic. In order to intercept TLS-encrypted HTTPS traffic, there’s a complicated dance that has to happen around building a Certificate Authority, distributing the CA’s public certificate to every device that will connect through the proxy and then actually configuring the endpoints and/or network to push the HTTPS traffic to the proxy. This is often referred to as “man-in-the-middle” (MiTM) because the proxy actually breaks into the encrypted session between the client and the server. In the end, the proxy has access to the clear-text communication.

Is ETA using a similar method and breaking into the encrypted session?

In this article, I’m going to use an analogy to describe how ETA does what it does. Afterwards, you should feel more comfortable about how ETA works and not be worried about any magic taking place in your network. 🧙

Continue reading Explain Cisco ETA to Me in a Way That Even My Neighbor Can Understand It

Auto Renew Let’s Encrypt Certificates

I’m a big fan of Let’s Encrypt (free, widely trusted SSL certificates) but not a big fan of most of the client software available for requesting and renewing certificates. Unlike a typical certificate authority, Let’s Encrypt doesn’t have a webui for requesting/renewing certs; everything is driven via an automated process that is run between a Let’s Encrypt software client and the Let’s Encrypt web service.

Since the protocols that Let’s Encrypt uses are standards-based, there are many open source clients available. Being security conscious, I have a few concerns with most of the clients:

  • Complication. Many of the clients are hundreds of lines long and unnecessarily complicated. This makes the code really hard to audit and since this code is playing with my crypto key material, I do want to audit it.
  • Elevated privilege. At least one of the clients I saw required root permission. That’s a non starter.

Continue reading Auto Renew Let’s Encrypt Certificates

Packets of Interest (2015-06-19)

It’s been a while since I’ve done a POI so here we go.

The Mystery of Duqu 2.0: a sophisticated cyberespionage actor returns


Kaspersky Lab found this new variant of the Duqu malware in their own network. They wrote a paper based on their analysis of this new malware. It fascinates me how sophisticated these software packages are and how much effort the threat actors put into them.

Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange

Diffie-Hellman (DH) is the world’s first public key crypto system. It’s used in everything from secure browsing, to secure shell. This video visually demonstrates how the Diffie-Hellman key exchange works. The best part is that you don’t need to know anything about crypto to follow along.

Passphrases That You Can Memorize – But That Even the NSA Can’t Guess


Use this informative guide to generate secure, human-memorizable passphrases that are suitable for protecting your private PGP key, your private SSH key, and your master key for your password safe.

Encrypting Your Laptop Like You Mean It


A well written article about encrypting one’s laptop. Covers topics such as what disk encryption does and does not protect against, attacks against disk encryption, and then encrypting disks in Windows and OS X.