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Wednesday, 15 December 2010 12:12

Developer claims FBI implemented backdoors in OpenBSD

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The US Federal Bureau of Investigation implemented a number of backdoors in the open cryptographic framework used in OpenBSD, according to a former developer of the operating system.


Gregory Perry wrote to OpenBSD project chief Theo de Raadt a few days back, explaining that he was revealing this information now because he could - his non-disclosure agreement with the FBI had expired.

"I wanted to make you aware of the fact that the FBI implemented a number of backdoors and side channel key leaking mechanisms into the OCF, for the express purpose of monitoring the site to site VPN encryption system implemented by EOUSA, the parent organization (sic) to the FBI," Perry wrote.

He said that this was probably the reason why people inside the FBI were advocating the use of OpenBSD for VPNs and firewalling.

De Raadt responded to the mail on one of the project's mailing lists, saying: "It is alleged that some ex-developers (and the company they worked for) accepted US government money to put backdoors into our network stack, in particular the IPSEC stack.  Around 2000-2001.

According to Wikipedia, IPsec is a suite of protocols for securing IP communications by authenticating and encrypting each packet of  a communication session. There are also protocols for establishing mutual authentication between agents at the beginning of the session and negotiation of cryptographic keys to be used during the session.

"Since we had the first IPSEC stack available for free, large parts of the code are now found in many other projects/products.  Over 10 years, the IPSEC code has gone through many changes and fixes, so it is unclear what the true impact of these allegations are," De Raadt wrote.

Code which is released under the BSD licence can be used freely in any system; it can be locked away in a proprietary system as well.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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