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Oct 14, 2014

Independent Security Assessment of Psiphon 3

At Psiphon, we’re committed to open source development. We talked about this in a previous blog post, and you can access our code repository here.

We were recently offered the chance to take this openness a step further with a formal security audit of our Windows and Android products, to be carried out by iSEC Partners. As part of our effort to be transparent in the way we operate, we are pleased to publish this report in full, which you can access here.
Partners-v1.1-08-2014.pdf
Overall, we are very happy with the results of the security audit, and for it to be recognized that we are "actively invested in ensuring the security of [our] users". We have already addressed the one High Severity item uncovered by iSEC Partners, and will continue to address the other recommendations over time.
The main findings of the report are:
  • Psiphon follows most industry best-practices and takes measures to mitigate against attacks where it cannot.
  • Most findings were suggestions to further improve the system, particularly in relation to the growth in the number of people using the software.
  • No inherent architecture flaws were discovered.
  • One High Severity issue was found, related to automated server patching. We have now deployed automated server patching using Ansible.
  • Longer-term recommendations are being considered, and where appropriate built in to our development plans.
One particular finding of interest is the recognition by iSEC Partners that there is a potential for security issues related to the browser that we use for browser-only mode. We wrote about that recently when a new security flaw in the browser was discovered, and have already taken steps to mitigate against it.
We were very pleased to be given the opportunity to engage with this security review. We hope that you will find this report interesting, and that it will reassure you of our commitment to providing first-class software that will always be open source and secure.

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Oct 4, 2014

Heartbleed and Psiphon

Summary of Heartbleed impact on Psiphon:

  • Some Psiphon servers were using affected versions of OpenSSL, leaving the Python web server vulnerable to the Heartbleed attack. Data at risk, within the web server component process, included Psiphon network topology information and network usage statistics in addition to web server key material.
  • The SSH/SSH+ Psiphon tunnels were not at risk. User traffic flowing through the Psiphon servers was not at risk. VPN Psiphon tunnels were potentially at risk for man-in-the-middle attacks as the per-session authentication secret is in Python web server memory.
  • On April 8, 2014, OpenSSL patches were applied to all affected Psiphon servers. In addition, all affected servers had their non-SSH/SSH+ capabilities revoked (out-of-band updates to all clients), ensuring clients will not attempt to use potentially compromised web server key material outside of the secure tunnel.
  • The Windows client does not use OpenSSL and is not affected by the Heartbleed attack.
  • The Android client does not use OpenSSL for its tunnel, but does use Android Java SSL for its web requests to Psiphon web servers and Amazon S3. As Android version 4.1.1 is affected by Heartbleed, our app on this particular version of Android remains vulnerable to Amazon, Psiphon servers, or a man-in-the-middle peeking at app memory.
  • The email auto-responder server had the affected version of OpenSSL. The attack against it would be to get it to make a SSL connection to a remote mail server (by sending an email request from an address that uses that server), which could then peek into the memory of the mail server. This could potentially expose email content, including addresses. The OpenSSL patches were applied April 8, 2014.
  • The feedback processing server had the affected version of OpenSSL. It may have used that library (via Python + Boto to make SSL connections to Amazon AWS services and Google Gmail server. This means that Amazon or Google could have accessed user feedback data. However, it should be noted that this data is already hosted in Amazon EC2 and a subset of this data is emailed to us via Gmail. The OpenSSL patches were applied April 8, 2014.
  • Psiphon was not using an affected version of OpenSSL.
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