ECE 458, Computer Security Assignment 1: Exercises for Topic 1


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Exercise 1. Consider basic definitions of cryptography and computer system security.
(a) Provide the definitions of confidentiality (C), integrity and authentication (I), and availability (A) (shortened as CIA) of an information/computer system.
(b) List at least three kinds of harm a company or personnel could encounter from a failure
of CIA for each case of C, I and A.
(c) Describe a situation in which you have experienced harm as a consequence of a failure of
security services. Was the failure malicious or not? Did the attack target you specifically
or was it general mass attack and you were the unfortunate victim?
Exercise 2∗
. Consider credit cards with chips implemented for authentication and encryption, in which users use their personal identification number (PIN) (usually 4 digits) as a key
to do transactions (see the example in Lecture 3).
(a) Give examples of confidentiality, integrity and availability associated with the systems.
(b) Identify three different threats to each of the category which result in a loss of security of
the system.
(c) Identify three different methods that the attacker can reduce the search space for recover
the PIN and estimate the complexity for each of them (you may exploit some weakness
in implementation, program vulnerabilities, application scenarios, · · · , anything that can
help you to reduce the complexity of the exhaustive search).
Exercise 3∗
. Consider the man-in-the-middle attacks in the following cases.
(a) Identify two consequences when some entries of a data base have been modified.
(b) Detail the entity authentication in the RFID system for contactless transaction, shown in
the relay attack described in Lecture 3 (page 19).
(c) For (b), provide three countermeasures for the relay attack.
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Exercise 4. Consider the vulnerabilities of the following stack structure.
(a) Draw the function stack frame for the following C function.
int func(char *str)
char buffer[24];
strcpy(buffer, str);
return 1;
(b) Discuss possible vulnerabilities of this program.
Exercise 5∗
. Program Vulnerabilities. For the following code, assume an attacker can
control the value of basket passed into search basket. The value of n is constrained to correctly
reflect the number of dogs in the basket. The code includes several security vulnerabilities.
(a) Circle three such vulnerabilities in the code and briefly explain each of the three.
(b) Describe how an attacker could exploit these vulnerabilities to obtain a shell.
Some reminders:
• snprintf(buf, len, fmt, · · · ) works like printf, but instead writes to buf, and wont
write more than len – 1 characters. It terminates the characters written with a ’
• System runs the shell command given by its first argument.
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1 struct dog {
2 char name [1024];
3 int age ;
4 };
6 /*
7 Searches through a basket of dogs of size at most 32.
8 Returns the number of puppies or -1 if there are no puppies .
9 */
11 int search_basket ( struct dog basket [] , size_t n ) {
12 struct dog puppies [32];
13 char puppy_names [1024] , cmd [1024];
14 int i , total_puppies = 0 , name_size = 0;
16 if ( n > 32) return -1;
17 for ( i = 0; i <= n ; i ++) {
18 if ( basket [ i ]. age < 12) {
19 size_t len = strlen ( basket [ i ]. name ) ;
20 snprintf ( puppy_names + names_size , len , “%s”, basket [ i ]. name )
21 puppies [ total_puppies ] = basket [ i ];
22 names_size += len ;
23 total_puppies += 1;
24 }
25 }
27 if ( total_puppies > 5) {
28 const char * fmt = ” adopt – puppies — num_puppies %d –names %s”;
29 snprintf ( cmd , sizeof cmd , fmt , total_puppies , puppy_names ) ;
30 system ( cmd ) ;
31 }
32 return total_puppies ;
33 }
Exercise 6. The spectre attacks.
(a) Explain how much information of covert side channel employed in the spectre attacks.
(b) Identify a case that the attacker can make the conditions listed in page 19 in Lecture 5
Exercise 7. COVID-19 makes the remote meetings essential for conducting research, remote
education, business, … . The following messages are received from our secretary of ECE. As
you see from the email: a notification of the fake email, it asks an invitee to click a link for
jointing some on-line meeting, which was sent by an attacker.
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(a) How can you verify that the message did not come from the secretary without click that?
(b) Provide one detailed exploit which can harm your computer/data.
(c) Now play the role of an attacker. How could you intercept the message described in part
(a) and convert it to your purposes while still making both the inviter and the client (the
student) think the message is authentic and trustworthy?
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Exercise 8. For verification by a remote party, we have introduced two methods to validate
a pair (pkA, skA) of a public-key and its corresponding private key for authentication of the
platform. One is through a certificate chain from the root public key on the platform, and
the other is through an external certificate authority.
(a) Can an attacker by pass this protection to install some software (it may not be malware)?
Justify your answer.
(b) It is possible to combine these remote attestation methods. One example is described
as follows. Assume that a pair of platform specific keys (pkC, skC) is installed on the
platform such that pkC is certified by the root public key. Use (pkC, skC) to authenticate
a newly generated pkA when sending it to a certificate authority to obtain a certificate
for pkA. Describe the details for a certificate update protocol for pkA.
(c) Discuss the pros and cons for the above combined method. Identify at least two vulnerabilities for the combined method.
Exercise 9∗∗ The attacker intercepted a 16-bit ciphertext, given below
c = 0100011011000011
He has the knowledge of 1) the ciphertext is generated by a one-time-pad encryption, i.e.,
the ciphertext is the bitwise xor of a key stream and plaintext, both are 16-bits, 2) he knows
that the plaintext is an English word using ASCII encoding (the right most bit is the least
significant bit).
(a) Find the plaintext in bits using a brute-force attack.
(b) How many possible plaintext bit vectors are you getting when you conduct this attack?
How do you filter out those incorrect ones and make the decision which one is correct?
Justify your answer.
(c) If attack has found the last 8 bits of the plaintext is 0110 1100, determine possible plaintext
bit streams and the key stream used in each of those encryption.