Thursday, January 10, 2013

Calling student coders: Hardcode, the secure coding contest for App Engine

Protecting user security and privacy is a huge responsibility, and software security is a big part of it. Learning about new ways to “break” applications is important, but learning preventative skills to use when “building” software, like secure design and coding practices, is just as critical. To help promote secure development habits, Google is once again partnering with the organizers of SyScan to host Hardcode, a secure coding contest on the Google App Engine platform.

Participation will be open to teams of up to 5 full-time students (undergraduate or high school, additional restrictions may apply). Contestants will be asked to develop open source applications that meet a set of functional and security requirements. The contest will consist of two rounds: a qualifying round over the Internet, with broad participation from any team of students, and a final round, to be held during SyScan on April 23-25 in Singapore.

During the qualifying round, teams will be tasked with building an application and describing its security design. A panel of judges will assess all submitted applications and select the top five to compete in the final round.

At SyScan, the five finalist teams will be asked to develop a set of additional features and fix any security flaws identified in their qualifying submission. After two more days of hacking, a panel of judges will rank the projects and select a grand prize winning team that will receive $20,000 Singapore dollars. The 2nd-5th place finalist teams will receive $15,000, $10,000, $5,000, and $5,000 Singapore dollars, respectively.

Hardcode begins on Friday, January 18th. Full contest details will be be announced via our mailing list, so subscribe there for more information!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Enhancing digital certificate security

Late on December 24, Chrome detected and blocked an unauthorized digital certificate for the "*" domain. We investigated immediately and found the certificate was issued by an intermediate certificate authority (CA) linking back to TURKTRUST, a Turkish certificate authority. Intermediate CA certificates carry the full authority of the CA, so anyone who has one can use it to create a certificate for any website they wish to impersonate.

In response, we updated Chrome’s certificate revocation metadata on December 25 to block that intermediate CA, and then alerted TURKTRUST and other browser vendors. TURKTRUST told us that based on our information, they discovered that, in August 2011, they had mistakenly issued two intermediate CA certificates to organizations that should have instead received regular SSL certificates. On December 26, we pushed another Chrome metadata update to block the second mistaken CA certificate and informed the other browser vendors.

Our actions addressed the immediate problem for our users. Given the severity of the situation, we will update Chrome again in January to no longer indicate Extended Validation status for certificates issued by TURKTRUST, though connections to TURKTRUST-validated HTTPS servers may continue to be allowed.

Since our priority is the security and privacy of our users, we may also decide to take additional action after further discussion and careful consideration.