Comodo Inspires No Confidence as Hacker Compromises Two More Accounts

Two additional registration authority accounts belonging to Comodo Security partners have been compromised since the initial SSL certificate attack.

The Iranian hacker who managed to trick Comodo into issuing nine fraudulent certificates appears to have compromised two more registration authority (RA) accounts, raising questions about exactly what is going on at the certificate authority.

"Two further RA accounts have since been compromised," wrote Robin Alden, CTO of Comodo Security, on the mailing list on March 29. The partners have had their registration authority privileges withdrawn, Alden said.

Alden made the announcement in an e-mail addressing questions posed by the members of the mailing list. "No further mis-issued certificates have resulted from these compromises," Alden said.

The self-identified Comodo hacker (writing under the name Janam Fadaye Rahbar) claimed in a follow-up message on Pastebin to have "owned 3 of them [Comodo partners]," and not just the Italian partner that was mentioned earlier. Rahbar said had more code and more domains, making it seem like "they are more tied with Comodo."

Rahbar also published the private RSA encryption key for Mozilla's add-ons domain, which corresponded to the publicly available fake SSL certificate, said Paul Mutton, a security researcher at British security firm Netcraft.

"Only Comodo, the affiliate, or the hacker could have known this secret key," said Mutton. He warned that the publication of the key means there's a chance of man-in-the-middle attacks against Mozilla Add-ons users. Users should be protected if they were using the most updated version of the browser, he said.

A number of security professionals on the were clearly fed up with what they saw as an on-going trend of mistakes by the certificate authority. "Comodo had several opportunities to show that they are willing to change," Paul van Brouwershaven, CTO of Networking4All, a Dutch hosting and security provider, wrote on the mailing list and forwarded to eWEEK. "They have showed over and over again that they are not willing to take the responsibility that a CA should have," he said.

He suggested that it was time for Mozilla, Microsoft and other companies to pull Comodo from their browsers and force Comodo to do a "product recall." Likening the incident to a potential safety problem with an automobile, van Brouwershaven said Comodo should refund customers for all certificates issued.