When I saw how it works, say that I was shocked is to say nothing. It's a pretty simple trick, but after reading this article, you will never look at the RSA as before. This is not a way to hijack RSA, but something that will make your paranoia greatly swell
As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned.
Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a "back door" in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.
Author Nick Sullivan worked for six years at Apple on many of its most important cryptography efforts before recently joining CloudFlare, where he is a systems engineer. He has a degree in mathematics from the University of Waterloo and a Masters in computer science with a concentration in cryptography from the University of Calgary. This post was originally written for the CloudFlare blog and has been lightly edited to appear on Ars.
Readers are reminded that elliptic curve cryptography is a set of algorithms for encrypting and decrypting data and exchanging cryptographic keys. Dual_EC_DRBG, the cryptographic standard suspected of containing a backdoor engineered by the National Security Agency, is a function that uses elliptic curve mathematics to generate a series of random-looking numbers from a seed. This primer comes two months after internationally recognized cryptographers called on peers around the world to adopt ECC to avert a possible "cryptopocalypse."
During the time that the RSA patent was in force, DSA was the signature algorithm of choice for any software that didn't want to deal with patent licenses. (Which is why lots of old PGP keys are still DSA.) It has slowly disappeared since the patent expired and it appears that 4096-bit RSA is now the algorithm of choice if you're on the run from the NSA [1]. (And if you're a journalist trying to get a reply: keyid BDA0DF3C.)
But DSA can also be used with elliptic curves in the form of ECDSA and, in that form, it's likely that we'll see it return in the future, at least to some extent. SSH and GPG both support ECDSA now and CAs are starting to offer ECDSA certificates for HTTPS.
Unfortunately, DSA has an important weakness that RSA doesn't: an entropy failure leaks your private key. If you used a machine affected by the Debian entropy bug then, in that time, messages that you encrypted with RSA can be broken. But if you signed anything with a DSA key, then your private key is compromised.