Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Computer and Information Science

First Advisor

Nadia A. Heninger

Abstract

This dissertation examines security vulnerabilities that arise due to communication failures and incentive mismatches along the path from cryptographic algorithm design to eventual deployment. I present six case studies demonstrating vulnerabilities in real-world cryptographic deployments. I also provide a framework with which to analyze the root cause of cryptographic vulnerabilities by characterizing them as failures in four key stages of the deployment process: algorithm design and cryptanalysis, standardization, implementation, and endpoint deployment. Each stage of this process is error-prone and influenced by various external factors, the incentives of which are not always aligned with security. I validate the framework by applying it to the six presented case studies, tracing each vulnerability back to communication failures or incentive mismatches in the deployment process.

To curate these case studies, I develop novel techniques to measure both existing and new cryptographic attacks, and demonstrate the widespread impact of these attacks on real-world systems through measurement and cryptanalysis. While I do not claim that all cryptographic vulnerabilities can be described with this framework, I present a non-trivial (in fact substantial) number of case studies demonstrating that this framework characterizes the root cause of failures in a diverse set of cryptographic deployments.

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