Possibly Probably Not Backdoored by FBI
In a post to the OpenBSD mailing list, developer Theo de Raadt reveals an email from an ex-contributor (Gregory Perry) alleging that money was accepted from the FBI around 2000-2001, in return for implementing a backdoor into the IPSec stack. Such a backdoor would give the FBI the ability to eavesdrop on any IPSec connection made using OpenBSD, or any other projects that have since made use of its IPSec code.
Clearly this would be a big deal if true, and although we know that open source projects are regularly backdoored by rogue developers or ‘hackers’ (such as the recent ProFTPd backdoor), it is not often that we hear of governments inserting some themselves. Should we be surprised? After all it is known that the NSA was involved with the development of DES by altering the algorithm’s S-Boxes and suggesting a shorter key length. There are also rumors of a covert backdoor in several versions of the Windows OS. That said, many people are smelling a troll in this case.
Following this information (can we call it a leak rumor?), OpenBSD’s IPSec code will undoubtedly come under quite a bit of scrutiny, and I’m sure we will hear a lot more about it should anything untoward be uncovered.
Read the full mailing list post here, archived below for posterity.
[Update] Scott Lowe denies being affiliated with the FBI, and Jason Wright denies having inserted a backdoor. This is sounding more and more like a trolling. To what end, I couldn’t speculate. It’s also worth noting that this kind of activity would probably not fall under a normal NDA, but under a government-level Top Secret classification which lasts at least 25 years…
An interesting observation about OpenBSD IPSec and Stuxnet.
123456789101112131415161718192021222324252627282930313233343536373839404142434445464748495051525354555657585960616263646566676869707172737475767778798081828384858687888990919293 <strong><span style="font-size: xx-small;">List: <a href="http://marc.info/?l=openbsd-tech&r=1&w=2">openbsd-tech</a>Subject: <a href="http://marc.info/?t=129236639300001&r=1&w=2">Allegations regarding OpenBSD IPSEC</a>From: <a href="http://marc.info/?a=90366097200024&r=1&w=2">Theo de Raadt <deraadt () cvs ! openbsd ! org></a>Date: <a href="http://marc.info/?l=openbsd-tech&r=1&w=2&b=201012">2010-12-14 22:24:39</a>Message-ID: <a href="http://marc.info/?i=201012142224.oBEMOdWM031222%20%28%29%20cvs%20%21%20openbsd%20%21%20org">201012142224.oBEMOdWM031222 () cvs ! openbsd ! org</a></span>[<a href="http://marc.info/?l=openbsd-tech&m=129236621626462&q=raw">Download message RAW</a>]</strong>I have received a mail regarding the early development of the OpenBSDIPSEC stack. It is alleged that some ex-developers (and the companythey worked for) accepted US government money to put backdoors intoour network stack, in particular the IPSEC stack. Around 2000-2001.Since we had the first IPSEC stack available for free, large parts ofthe code are now found in many other projects/products. Over 10years, the IPSEC code has gone through many changes and fixes, so itis unclear what the true impact of these allegations are.The mail came in privately from a person I have not talked to fornearly 10 years. I refuse to become part of such a conspiracy, andwill not be talking to Gregory Perry about this. Therefore I ammaking it public so that(a) those who use the code can audit it for these problems,(b) those that are angry at the story can take other actions,(c) if it is not true, those who are being accused can defend themselves.Of course I don't like it when my private mail is forwarded. Howeverthe "little ethic" of a private mail being forwarded is much smallerthan the "big ethic" of government paying companies to pay open sourcedevelopers (a member of a community-of-friends) to insertprivacy-invading holes in software.----From: Gregory Perry <[email protected]>Subject: OpenBSD Crypto FrameworkThread-Topic: OpenBSD Crypto FrameworkThread-Index: AcuZjuF6cT4gcSmqQv+Fo3/+2m80eg==Date: Sat, 11 Dec 2010 23:55:25 +0000Message-ID: <[email protected]omain.local>Accept-Language: en-USContent-Language: en-USX-MS-Has-Attach:X-MS-TNEF-Correlator:Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printableMIME-Version: 1.0Status: ROHello Theo,Long time no talk. If you will recall, a while back I was the CTO atNETSEC and arranged funding and donations for the OpenBSD CryptoFramework. At that same time I also did some consulting for the FBI,for their GSA Technical Support Center, which was a cryptologicreverse engineering project aimed at backdooring and implementing keyescrow mechanisms for smart card and other hardware-based computingtechnologies.My NDA with the FBI has recently expired, and I wanted to make youaware of the fact that the FBI implemented a number of backdoors andside channel key leaking mechanisms into the OCF, for the expresspurpose of monitoring the site to site VPN encryption systemimplemented by EOUSA, the parent organization to the FBI. JasonWright and several other developers were responsible for thosebackdoors, and you would be well advised to review any and all codecommits by Wright as well as the other developers he worked withoriginating from NETSEC.This is also probably the reason why you lost your DARPA funding, theymore than likely caught wind of the fact that those backdoors werepresent and didn't want to create any derivative products based uponthe same.This is also why several inside FBI folks have been recentlyadvocating the use of OpenBSD for VPN and firewalling implementationsin virtualized environments, for example Scott Lowe is a wellrespected author in virtualization circles who also happens top be onthe FBI payroll, and who has also recently published several tutorialsfor the use of OpenBSD VMs in enterprise VMware vSphere deployments.Merry Christmas...Gregory PerryChief Executive OfficerGoVirtual Education"VMware Training Products & Services"540-645-6955 x111 (local)866-354-7369 x111 (toll free)540-931-9099 (mobile)877-648-0555 (fax)