Hackers fake SSL certificates for web services

A major issuer of secure socket layer (SSL) certificates acknowledged on Wednesday that it had issued 9 fraudulent SSL certificates to seven Web domains, including those for Google.com, Yahoo.com and Skype.com following a security compromise at an affiliate firm. The attack originated from an IP address in Iran, according to a statement from Comodo Inc.

Comodo, of Jersey City, New Jersey, said, in a statement on its Web page, that an attacker was able to obtain the user name and password of a Comodo Registration Authority (RA) based in Southern Europe and issue the fraudulent certificates. The company said the hack did not extend to its root keys or intermediate certificate authorities, but did constitute a serious security incident that warranted attention.

SSL Certificates are the Internet equivalent of drivers’ licenses, said Paul Turner, the vice president of products and customer solutions at Venafi, an Enterprise Key and Certificate Management firm. The bogus certificates could be used in phishing or man in the middle attacks against organizations that haven’t updated their certificate revocation lists, he said. They could also be used to sign applications and plug ins, he said.

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