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Mocana Rids NSA-Compromised Key Gen Algorithm from Security Engine

Mocana, a provider of the mobile application and embedded security solutions, said that it has removed a key generation algorithm from its NanoCrypto embedded security engine, after it was reported that the algorithm could be compromised by the NSA.

Mocana, a provider of the mobile application and embedded security solutions, said that it has removed a key generation algorithm from its NanoCrypto embedded security engine, after it was reported that the algorithm could be compromised by the NSA.

According to the announcement, Mocana’s NanoCrypto embedded security engine software no longer uses the Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generator (Dual_EC_DRBG), an algorithm that was previously promoted as a cryptographically secure key generation method by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Mocana’s NanoCrypto software is used by mobile handset makers and embedded device manufacturers of all kinds, and has tens of millions of installations worldwide.

Mocana said that its action is the result of recent Edward Snowden document revelations that the Dual_EC_DRBG algorithm contains a vulnerability that likely enables US intelligence agencies to easily decrypt communications protected with the algorithm.

The algorithm was designated as a standard (SP 800-90A) by NIST in 2006, at least in part because of endorsement and promotion by the NSA, Mocana said. Earlier this month, NIST warned against using Dual_EC_DRBG until scientists determine the full extent of the algorithm’s weaknesses.

“By default, Mocana’s NanoCrypto product uses FIPS 186 pseudorandom number generation, but the Dual_EC_DRBG algorithm was available as an option. We have decided to remove the Dual_EC_DRBG libraries from NanoCrypto entirely to protect our customers,” said Kurt Stammberger, CISSP, vice president of market development at Mocana. “We recommend that our customers review their previous software builds to make sure they did not enable this algorithm.”

The Dual_EC_DRBG algorithm was one of three random number generators made available to developers in the previous versions of the NanoCrypto product.

“Many embedded devices, like those in smart grid, industrial automation, medical and automotive applications, are not easy to update or patch, so NSA’s actions are going to impose a non-trivial cost on some device manufacturers as they endeavor to update devices already in the field,” Stammberger added.

More information, including the security advisory from Mocana, is available here

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