Security flaws found in Apple Mail can reveal encrypted email as plaintext

PSA PGP and S  MIME are broken and leaking encrypted emails – stop using them right now

"Our advice, which mirrors that of the researchers, is to immediately disable and/or uninstall tools that automatically decrypt PGP-encrypted email".

Users of PGP email encryption have been warned to stop using the software immediately because a newly discovered security flaw may make it possible to read encrypted messages.

Schinzel and his team's research has been corroborated by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and has been described in detail by the researchers in a paper published earlier today. The EFF's report only indicated that a vulnerability existed, and that users should disable PGP plugins in their mail clients until patches are deployed.

The EFAIL vulnerabilities, which now have no software patch, "might reveal the plaintext of encrypted emails, including encrypted emails sent in the past", according to researchers.

Another way would be to use authenticated encryption via tools such as OpenPGP, he argued.

PGP is often used to encrypt messages in popular email programs such as Outlook, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, and Enigmail.

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Efail attacks work by abusing the active content of HTML emails to access or "exfiltrate" plaintext.

Though researchers are warning users of the seriousness of the vulnerability, many believe it is being hyped too much. Previously encrypted emails may now become available for decryption without having the proper credentials to do so.

In a tweet, Koch said the vulnerability is primarily in the email clients and not in the protocols.

PGP is considered the standard for email encryption and was first introduced way back in 1991.

PGP is used by activists, journalists and whistleblowers, including Edward Snowden, who revealed details of pervasive electronic surveillance by USA intelligence agencies before fleeing to Russian Federation. On the other hand, S/MIME is used mainly in enterprise infrastructure. The researchers claim the chip is unclonable, and thus, protects the device from hacking, replication or counterfeiting by the hackers. 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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