ATT wants to spy on all your Traffic, and has proposed an Internet standard, so that anybody can do it, anywhere in the world. To us, this seems like a BAD idea. Their bad idea involves decrypting any traffic you send via HTTPS, looking at it, then re-encrypting it and sending it to wherever you wanted it to go. Some call this a Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attack. ATT’s proposed Internet standard, an IETF proposal, would make it part of the Internet protocol collection, to be adopted by ISPs and others around the world.
One has to wonder why ATT would “stick its neck out” this way. Surely they realize that asking people to trust them after spying on you is unlikely to result in a favorable response. Here are two possibilities, both reasonably likely.
1. The NSA and other want this. It forces you to give permission for AT&T to spy on you and under the various US surveillance acts, makes it spying both consensual and legal.
2. It provides a mechanism for AT&T to implement the intellectual property provision hinted in the TTP and Trans-Atlantic treaties.
ATT’s proposal provision is not stupid and misinformed. It is Policy. Deliberate, planned, and driven by the current backlash against surveillance and the probability of the ISPs having to implement the intellectual property provisions of TPP and TTIP. They want to implement a technique that can be used worldwide to ensure that you’re not violating any of their secret intellectual property provisions in these trade partnerships that you’re not allowed to know about, except through the occasional leak by someone with a conscience. By the way, those agreements, if implemented in their present form, would do enormous damage to the Internet.
The serious side-effect is the Internet would be compromised forever for commerce and banking, because neither you nor your bank would be able to trust the “trusted proxy”.
In other words, it’s like giving your credit card to a stranger, and pre-signing all paper vouchers for the card.
Or publishing your Bank & Credit Card Statements, Tax Returns and Medical Record on the Internet.
What’s Going on in the IEFT (Standards Body) This article clearly shows the additional dangers that ATT’s “trusted” proxy server creates for you, the end user, who merely wants to visit a website with your browser. Notice this paragraph from the above SANS URL, which quotes the IETF draft document:
Users should be made aware that, different than end-to-end HTTPS, the achievable security level is now also dependent on the security features/capabilities of the proxy as to what cipher suites it supports, which root CA certificates it trusts, how it checks certificate revocation status, etc. Users should also be made aware that the proxy has visibility to the actual content they exchange with Web servers, including personal and sensitive information.
So, for their own reasons, ATT & Ericsson engineers want to make your browsing dependent on the security of their “trusted proxy” in addition to all the other dangers that you face when browsing on the web. This danger is completely aside from the possibility that you might prefer them not to be reading over your shoulder. This blog spells out the response very well, here’s an excerpt:
No, I Don’t Trust You! — One of the Most Alarming Internet Proposals I’ve Ever Seen If you care about Internet security, especially what we call “end-to-end” security free from easy snooping by ISPs, carriers, or other intermediaries, heads up! You’ll want to pay attention to this.
You’d think that with so many concerns these days about whether large corporations, such as AT&T, Verizon, and other telecommunications companies can be trusted not to turn our data over to third parties whom we haven’t authorized, that a plan to formalize a mechanism for ISP and other “man-in-the-middle” snooping would be laughed off the Net. But apparently the authors of IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) Internet-Draft “Explicit Trusted Proxy in HTTP/2.0” (14 Feb 2014) haven’t gotten the message. – Lauren Weinstein
As the blog entry states, what they propose for the new HTTP/2.0 protocol is nothing short of officially sanctioned snooping! Of course, they don’t phrase it exactly that way. This is what they are proposing:
You <-> ATT “Trusted Proxy” <-> Your destination
You <—> Your destination
So, as the diagram shows, you want to use a proxy server – possibly for anonymity, possibly because you’re at an Internet cafe and want to use the Internet without giving away your user credentials for your mail, or your bank, or other things for which privacy is important for your security.
(Note that privacy and security go together. It’s not “either-or”. It’s “BOTH or NEITHER!”)
The problem that the ATT and Ericsson engineers have is that you have chosen to protect your security with a proxy and encryption, and THEY WANT TO LOOK AT YOUR DATA. To do that, they want to decrypt your HTTPS data stream, look at your data, and then re-encrypt it and send it on its way. Therefore, they propose putting a “trusted proxy” in the circuit, where your data gets decrypted, viewed, and finally, is sent to the destination you wanted to go to in the first place. They want this to become an Internet standard, worldwide. Even if you trust ATT (and we know no reason why you should), you should oppose this, because your security is decreased. And, in the ATT-suggested method, if your security were violated, you would probably never know about it. If you don’t trust ATT, you now have two reasons to oppose this RFC draft from being adopted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Let’s have a look at how this system could be abused.
Trusted Proxies as Criminal Hacking Targets
One of the key problems which this RFC would create is it would make targets out of all the “trusted proxies.” Entirely aside from ATT, or the NSA gaining access to your data stream, how about criminals stealing your banking, credit and health information? Any device through which that information passes, becomes desirable for criminals to access.
Here’s one scenario:
Wait for the system to be firmly established. Say six months or so. Find a Sysadmin with no family connection in the US, unmarried and offer to enrich him for a few small changes to the “Trusted Proxy” Web site. Install back door and filter to obtain all the credit card, bank account, and other information as it flowed and then sell all the information for a huge sum. It may well be possible for hackers to simply attack the “trusted proxy,” without involving any insiders, but with insiders, it’s easier. If criminals were in a position to bribe more than one sysadmin, they might be able to do even more damage. Once they gain access, it’s a matter of copying and selling the data.
Can ATT guarantee that there won’t be a breach? Could Target? Their last estimate was 110 million customer accounts affected. Can you trust ATT? Should you trust ATT?
But WAIT! This is not proposed as an ATT practice. It’s proposed as a WORLDWIDE approved practice of the Internet Engineering Task Force, if the IETF adopts the draft written by ATT & Ericsson engineers. This is a time for people around the world to voice their concerns. Liability and legal issues are also involved.
Consider the following: Your account information is leaked somehow, even though you were using HTTPS, as your bank says you should. You’ve lost money from your account. Your bank says “It’s not our fault. You were connected over a secure path to our server. We won’t reimburse you.” What would you do? Sue ATT in small claims court? If the ATT RFC draft is adopted, and becomes standard Internet engineering practice, we expect ATT to require their users to “voluntarily” trust their ‘trusted proxy’ in their terms of service. As part of the TOS, they would include a clause indicating that they are not liable. Either you agree to be spied upon, or your Internet browsing days are over.
The time to stop this is NOW! Later is TOO LATE.
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