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Encrypted Emails May Be Readable

15 May 2018, 04:22 | Hattie Nash

Daniel Sambraus—EyeEm Getty Images

Daniel Sambraus—EyeEm  Getty Images

This new vulnerability allows hackers and attackers the ability to read encrypted HTML emails in plaintext files. If you're particularly paranoid, you might choose to decrypt emails in applications that are separate from your email program-a step the German researchers recommend.

Professor Schinzel is a member of a research team consisting of a long list of respected security researchers, and which has been responsible for uncovering a number of cryptographic vulnerabilities.

"If you use PGP/GPG or S/MIME for very sensitive communication, you should disable it in your e-mail client for now". "Having used PGP since 1993, this sounds baaad (sic)", F-Secure's Mikko Hypponenwrote in a tweet.

In the short term, researchers call for users to disable HTML rendering and avoid decrypting emails in an email client. Indeed, after any bug reports get published, attackers often begin exploiting the new flaws within hours.

If you are asked for the admin password, enter it to confirm the action.

Details about the vulnerability were released by the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper prior to a scheduled embargo.

The second attack type works against a larger number of email clients.

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Attackers need to send emails as specially crafted HTML messages that contain the code required to exfiltrate decoded text from vulnerable programs. The attacker then injects image tags into the encrypted plaintext, creating a single encrypted body part. "The result is really elegant", he tells the newspaper.

However, to address this risk, experts have come up with a chip that uses ionic memristor technology to address security concerns.

Academics from the Electronic Frontier Foundation have discovered critical vulnerabilities in two email encryption protocols. "Until the flaws described in the paper are more widely understood and fixed, users should arrange for the use of alternative end-to-end secure channels...and temporarily stop sending and especially reading PGP-encrypted email".

The issue, dubbed EFAIL, has to do with a hole in OpenPGP and S/MIME standards that can reveal the plain text of encrypted emails.

"You might also have had some exposure in the past if back then you used a pre-2000 version of GnuPG, and/or an email plugin which didn't handle the warning correctly", the GPG team wrote. That's because EFAIL can be stopped by using authenticated encryption; OpenPGP started to support authenticated encryption in 2001.

BestVPN advice: Uninstall PGP immediately (at least for now)!

And many corporate email services employ S/MIME.

As of now, there are not many details available on the latest vulnerability, but more information is expected to be shared by the researchers soon.



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