Google, Yahoo, and Skype users in Iran should be extra cautious online from now on. Evidence suggests that the Iranian government organized an attack focused on obtaining nine secure digital certificates related to major sites.
Note that this episode hasn’t quite escalated to the levels we saw when a Chinese attack was the subject of discussion; Google hasn’t made any public accusations, and no politicians have become involved. Still, Comodo, a company that issues digital certificates, created a fairly damning incident report.
Apparently things began when an attacker logged into a Comodo RA account with the username and password of a Comodo Trusted Partner. Then the account was used to issue SSL certificates for www.google.com, login.yahoo.com, login.skype.com, addons.mozilla.org, and login.live.com.
That would have potentially allowed the attacker to impersonate the sites and intercept user-submitted information, had Comodo not caught on and revoked the certificates.
Then here’s Comodo’s conclusion, edited only for spacing: “The circumstantial evidence suggests that the attack originated in Iran. The perpetrator has focussed simply on the communication infrastructure (not the financial infrastructure as a typical cyber-criminal might). The perpetrator can only make use of these certificates if it had control of the DNS infrastructure. The perpetrator has executed its attacks with clinical accuracy. The Iranian government has recently attacked other encrypted methods of communication. All of the above leads us to one conclusion only:- that this was likely to be a state-driven attack.”
Stay tuned for further updates. It should be interesting to see what happens next.