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Breakdown of the TLS_PSK_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256 cipher suite

Cyber Security Rating for TLS_PSK_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA256 - D


Key Exchange Mechanism

Pre-Shared Key-PSK

A pre-shared key (PSK) in a TLS cipher suite is a symmetric key shared in advance between the client and server. It serves as the basis for establishing a secure connection without the need for public key infrastructure (PKI). PSKs are typically used in scenarios where both parties have agreed upon a key beforehand, such as in IoT devices, VPNs, or certain enterprise networks. They provide mutual authentication and confidentiality by encrypting communication using a shared secret, ensuring that only authorized parties can access the encrypted data exchanged during the TLS session.



Pre-Shared Key-PSK

PSK (Pre-Shared Key) cipher suites are used for authentication in secure communication protocols like TLS. They allow parties to establish a shared secret beforehand, ensuring confidentiality and integrity of data exchanges without the overhead of public key infrastructure (PKI), suitable for constrained environments or specific security requirements.



Advanced Encryption Standard-AES

AES should be used in cipher suites because it offers strong security with efficient performance, large block size (128 bits), and resistance to known attacks. Its widespread adoption and thorough analysis by the cryptographic community ensure reliability and robustness for encrypting sensitive data.



Secure Hash Algorithm 256 Bit-SHA256

Improving greatly from SHA1, SHA-256 and above create secure hashes through robust cryptographic algorithms that ensure collision resistance and preimage resistance. They process input data in fixed-size blocks, applying complex mathematical transformations that make it computationally impractical to reverse-engineer the original data from its hash.


Key Size

128 Bit-128

128-bit symmetric encryption keys are considered secure because they provide an astronomically large number of possible combinations (2^128), making brute-force attacks computationally infeasible with current technology. This level of security is sufficient for most practical purposes and is widely adopted in various encryption protocols.


Cipher Mode

Cipher Block Chaining-CBC

Cipher Block Chaining (CBC) mode is vulnerable to the Lucky13 and POODLE (in TLS v1.2 and below) attacks. The Lucky13 attack exploits timing discrepancies in padding validation, allowing attackers to gradually reveal plaintext. The POODLE attack leverages padding errors to decrypt ciphertext by repeatedly modifying and sending it to the server, observing the error responses. These vulnerabilities arise from CBC's handling of padding and error messages, making it less secure than modern encryption modes like Galois/Counter Mode (GCM), which offer stronger integrity and confidentiality guarantees.

Web infrastructure owners must ensure they only allow secure cipher suites to protect against potential security threats. Cipher suites determine the encryption algorithms and key exchange mechanisms used in HTTPS connections. Insecure cipher suites can leave data vulnerable to interception, decryption, and manipulation by malicious actors. By restricting to secure cipher suites, owners mitigate risks such as data breaches, unauthorized access, and compromise of sensitive information. This proactive measure helps maintain trust with users, ensures compliance with security standards, and safeguards the integrity and confidentiality of data transmitted over the web.
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