Latest Past Seminars

Insecurity, going from terms to formulas

Abstract: Reasoning about cryptographic protocols starts with a term algebra of communicated terms over which an appropriate logic is built, with variables designating terms. In logics of announcements, formulas are communicated, blurring the distinction between terms and formulas. Constructs such as zero knowledge proofs and certificates are akin to formulas, motivating a similar extension to reasoning about security protocols as well. However, the interaction between equality and the existential quantifier leads to interesting twists: witnesses for existential quantifiers may be unbounded, and obtaining small witness terms while maintaining equality proofs complicates the analysis considerably. In this talk we attempt to highlight the challenges in reasoning about insecurity when formulas are communicated.
This work is joint with Vaishnavi Sundararajan and S P Suresh.

Blackbox and Grey-box Approaches to Protocol State Machine Learning (With Lots of Attacks Against TLS and WPA)

Protocol state machine learning has been used to analyse many cryptographic protocols. Unlike fuzzing it can find logical flaws in protocols and unlike formal modelling it can find vulnerabilities in implementations. I will outline how black box state machine methods work, and describe how we have applied them to WPA to find two downgrade attacks. I will then describe a grey box learning method we have developed that uses memory snapshots and symbolic execution of the binary, combined with observations of run-time memory and a protocol's inputs and outputs to learn its state machine. We show that this grey box method is much more efficient than black box learning, allowing us to test protocols in much more detail and leading to the discovery of new attacks against implementations of TLS and WPA.

Reversing, Breaking, and Fixing the French Legislative Election E-Voting Protocol

In June 2022, French citizens abroad voted online during the French legislatives election to chose the new members of Parliament. In this work, we conducted a security analysis of the system under use. Due to a lack of system and threat model specifications, we first built and contributed such specifications by studying the French legal framework and by reverse-engineering the code base accessible to the voters. Our analysis reveals that this protocol is affected by two design-level and implementation-level vulnerabilities. We show how those allow a standard voting server attacker and even more so a channel attacker to defeat the election integrity and ballot privacy. We propose and discuss fixes to prevent those attacks. Our specifications, the attacks, and the fixes were acknowledged by the relevant stakeholders during our responsible disclosure. Beyond this specific protocol, we draw general conclusions and lessons from this instructive experience where an e-voting protocol meets the real-world constraints of a large-scale and political election.