Trust but verify attestation with revocation

Posted by Rob Barnes & Shawn Willden, Android Security & Privacy Team

Billions of people rely on their Android-powered devices to securely store their sensitive information. A vital component of the Android security stack is the key attestation system . Android devices since Android 7.0 are able to generate an attestation certificate that attests to the security properties of the device’s hardware and software. OEMs producing devices with Android 8.0 or higher must install a batch attestation key provided by Google on each device at the time of manufacturing.

These keys might need to be revoked for a number of reasons including accidental disclosure, mishandling, or suspected extraction by an attacker. When this occurs, the affected keys must be immediately revoked to protect users. The security of any Public-Key Infrastructure system depends on the robustness of the key revocation process.

All of the attestation keys issued so far include an extension that embeds a certificate revocation list (CRL) URL in the certificate. We found that the CRL (and online certificate status protocol) system was not flexible enough for our needs. So we set out to replace the revocation system for Android attestation keys with something that is flexible and simple to maintain and use.

Our solution is a single TLS-secured URL ( https://android.googleapis.com/attestation/status ) that returns a list containing all revoked Android attestation keys. This list is encoded in JSON and follows a strict format defined by JSON schema. Only keys that have non-valid status appear in the list, so it is not an exhaustive list of all issued keys.

This system allows us to express more nuance about the status of a key and the reason for the status. A key can have a status of REVOKED or SUSPENDED , where revoked is permanent and suspended is temporary. The reason for the status is described as either KEY_COMPROMISE , CA_COMPROMISE , SUPERSEDED , or SOFTWARE_FLAW. A complete, up-to-date list of statuses and reasons can be found in the developer documentation .

The CRL URLs embedded in existing batch certificates will continue to operate. Going forward, attestation batch certificates will no longer contain a CRL extension. The status of these legacy certificates will also be included in the attestation status list, so developers can safely switch to using the attestation status list for both current and legacy certificates. An example of how to correctly verify Android attestation keys is included in the Key Attestation sample .

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