Hacker Uses NSA-Discovered Vulnerability In Windows To Spoof NSA


As a part of the latest Patch Tuesday update, Microsoft fixed a critical Windows 10 CryptoAPI vulnerability (CVE-2020-0601) that was discovered by the National Security Agency.

However, a security researcher named Saleem Rashid didn’t take much time to demonstrate the havoc it could have caused, in a funny way, though.

The hacker rickrolled the NSA and GitHub by spoofing their HTTPS-secured websites and showed how anyone could masquerade them. Rickrolling is a familiar gesture used to demo security flaws by playing Rick Astley’s music video “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which Rashid did on the websites of NSA and GitHub.

As reported by Ars Technica, Rashid’s exploit can be used to spoof websites on both Edge and Chrome. There are chances that it would work fine on other Chromium-based browsers as well, including Brave.

While his code contains over 100 lines, it could be shrunk down to just 10 if some tricks are to be removed. However, there are technical aspects that make it challenging to implement such an attack in the real world.

For instance, it will require the attacker to set up a Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attack, which is a tough task in itself unless they lure the victim into clicking a malicious URL.

“The biggest constraints are Chrome’s tight certificate policies and that the root CA must be cached, which you can trigger by visiting a legitimate site that uses the certificate,” says Rashid in his tweet.

The attacker also needs to find a workaround for the certificate pinning technique that Chrome uses to safeguard sensitive sites, including Google.com. Here, certificate authentication of websites is only done if it contains a specific cryptographic hash. This is regardless of whether the website has a genuine certificate or not.

Affected Windows versions can be secured using the patch that’s already available. So, it’s recommended that you install it if haven’t done it already. At the same time, Google is also in the process of pushing a fix for Chrome that is currently being tested in beta releases.

Aditya Tiwari

Aditya Tiwari

Aditya likes to cover topics related to Microsoft, Windows 10, Apple Watch, and interesting gadgets. But when he is not working, you can find him binge-watching random videos on YouTube (after he has wasted an hour on Netflix trying to find a good show). Reach out at [email protected]
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