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14 May 2018, 06:15 | Edward Lowe
The researchers have already contacted email service providers through the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
A more detailed explanation and analysis will be forthcoming once the research is formally released tomorrow, but the vulnerabilities are thought to affect both PGP and the S/MIME public key encryption standard.
EFF said in a blog post that users should uninstall PGP until the flaw is patched.
Attackers who exploit the vulnerability are able to change an encrypted email in a certain way and send then send the altered encrypted email to the victim.
Another way would be to use authenticated encryption via tools such as OpenPGP, he argued. Because a full block of plaintext-the researchers cite S/MIME emails starting with "Content-type: multipart/signed" as one-is known to the attacker, this allows the attacker to "repeatedly [append] CBC gadgets to inject an image tag into the encrypted plaintext".
PGP is often used to encrypt messages in popular email programs such as Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, and Enigmail.
Though researchers are warning users of the seriousness of the vulnerability, many believe it is being hyped too much.
In a tweet, Koch said the vulnerability is primarily in the email clients and not in the protocols. In the meantime, they are recommending that users stop using OpenPGP and S/MIME for now.
Of course, if you recognise the need to secure encrypt your communications you probably also understand that resorting to sending and receiving unencrypted email is far from an acceptable solution.
However, to address this risk, experts have come up with a chip that uses ionic memristor technology to address security concerns. According to the researchers, the said technology can be seen as an electrical resistance switch, which can "remember" its state of resistance due to the history of applied voltage and current.
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