Security issues with MD5 hash values

Researchers Marc Stevens, Arjen Lenstra and Benne de Weger released a paper titled “Vulnerability of software integrity and code signing applications to chosen-prefix collisions for MD5”.

We announce two different Win32 executable files with different functionality but identical MD5 hash values. This shows that trust in MD5 as a tool for verifying software integrity, and as a hash function used in code signing, has become questionable.

Software is vulnerable to threats on its integrity. For example, when a program is made available as an executable file on the web for downloading, some bits of the file may be accidentally changed during the download process. Or, when a program is stored on a hard disk that becomes victim to a virus attack, the program code may be changed on purpose, to get an executable file that has been infected by the virus. A popular method of thwarting those threats is to compute a checksum of the original executable file, and to publish this checksum along with the program on the download webpage, or to store this checksum in a database. At any later moment the user of the program is then able to recompute the checksum from the file as it is then residing on his computer, and verify the checksum with the stored original value. When the checksum has changed, apparently the file has changed, and should not be trusted any longer.

Read the paper at TU/E.

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