A pair of researchers recently created a tool called Browser Exploit Against SSL/TLS, or BEAST, which enables an attacker to intercept and decrypt SSL cookies on the same network by performing a "blockwise-adaptive chosen-plaintext" attack on encrypted packets. Does this BEAST SSL tool give attackers a powerful new weapon to break SSL/TLS encryption; how much of a risk does it pose to enterprises, and are there any mitigation tactics that can be put in place?
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Before we assess the threat posed by the BEAST SSL tool, let's examine the context. Researchers Juliano Rizzo and Thai Duong expanded on Bruce Schneier and David Wagner’s analysis (.pdf) from 1999. In looking at SSL 3.0, Schneier and Wagner found that, despite several "minor" flaws, including the one mentioned above, SSL was still largely secure enough for broad use.
This was first published in May 2012