Dutch Certificate Authority KPN/Getronicshas announced the suspension of the issuance of digital certificates.
The reason for this is that a breach has been discovered on a KPN web server related to PKI. The attack dates back no less than four years.
KPN, best known for its telecom business, acquired Getronics four years ago. Former Getronics has a certificate authority similar to Diginotar. Like Diginotar, KPN is allowed to issue ‘special’ certificates for the Dutch government and public services. In fact, many organizations affected by the Diginotar incident switched to KPN certificates.
Currently it’s not yet clear if a breach of the CA server(s) can be ruled out or not. Results should come in next week. One of the questions that should also be answered is how a DDoS tool went undetected for four years. However, as companies are ramping up internal security I fully expect to see more ‘old breaches’ like this one uncovered.
What’s particularly interesting about KPN’s statement is that it could be interpreted as them saying already issued certificates will remain valid (no matter what). KPN is a much bigger certificate authority than Diginotar. Possibly, people could be going into this with the idea of KPN being too big too fall.
Especially with the pain of Diginotar still fresh in everybody’s mind people may want to take the easiest route.
After all, if something had truly gone wrong we would have all noticed it by now, wouldn’t we?
Fact remains that we currently place an absolute trust in certificate authorities. So the right thing must be done. More as this story unfolds.