[ISN] “Honey Encryption” Will Bamboozle Attackers with Fake Secrets

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/523746/honey-encryption-will-bamboozle-attackers-with-fake-secrets/ By Tom Simonite MIT Technology Review January 29, 2014 Ari Juels, an independent researcher who was previously chief scientist at computer security company RSA, thinks something important is missing from the cryptography protecting our sensitive data: trickery. “Decoys and deception are really underexploited tools in fundamental computer security,” Juels says. Together with Thomas Ristenpart of the University of Wisconsin, he has developed a new encryption system with a devious streak. It gives encrypted data an additional layer of protection by serving up fake data in response to every incorrect guess of the password or encryption key. If the attacker does eventually guess correctly, the real data should be lost amongst the crowd of spoof data. The new approach could be valuable given how frequently large encrypted stashes of sensitive data fall into the hands of criminals. Some 150 million usernames and passwords were taken from Adobe servers in October 2013, for example. After capturing encrypted data, criminals often use software to repeatedly guess the password or cryptographic key used to protect it. The design of conventional cryptographic systems makes it easy to know when such a guess is correct or not: the wrong key produces a garbled mess, not a recognizable piece of raw data. Juels and Ristenpart’s approach, known as Honey Encryption, makes it harder for an attacker to know if they have guessed a password or encryption key correctly or not. When the wrong key is used to decrypt something protected by their system, the Honey Encryption software generates a piece of fake data resembling the true data. […]