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British cybersecurity fears ‘crypto-apocalypse’

Concerns over certificates and keys is widespread.

By Jimmy Nicholls

British cybersecurity staff fear that a "crypto-apocalypse" could shake the foundations of trust in digital keys and certificates, according to a survey from the security vendor Venafi.

More than half of respondents to the UK-wide survey believed that trust in such technology was in jeopardy, with the potential risk to businesses in Britain expected to reach £33m over the next two years.

Kevin Bocek, VP of security strategy and threat intelligence at Venafi, said: "The overwhelming theme in this year’s report is that online trust is at the breaking point. And it’s no surprise.

"Leading researchers from FireEye, Intel, Kaspersky, and Mandiant, and many others consistently identify the misuse of key and certificates as an important part of APT and cybercriminal operations."

Almost two-thirds of those interviewed admitted that they did not know where all their keys and certificates are located or how they are being used, a figure that Bocek believes is an underestimate.

"That should really be 99%," Bocek said. "63% were honest."

60% of all survey respondents also said that they should become better at responding to those type of vulnerabilities, slightly less than those who admitted poor visibility on certificates and keys.

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Bocek added that concerns over an impending "crypto-apocalypse", an idea popularised at a Black Hat conference in 2013, were overblown compared to the quotidian threats businesses are facing.

"I think that’s a good thing to be concerned about," he said. "But the real threat everyday is theft and misuse."

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