Tag Archives: encryption

Facebook Plans on Backdooring WhatsApp

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/08/facebook_plans_.html

This article points out that Facebook’s planned content moderation scheme will result in an encryption backdoor into WhatsApp:

In Facebook’s vision, the actual end-to-end encryption client itself such as WhatsApp will include embedded content moderation and blacklist filtering algorithms. These algorithms will be continually updated from a central cloud service, but will run locally on the user’s device, scanning each cleartext message before it is sent and each encrypted message after it is decrypted.

The company even noted that when it detects violations it will need to quietly stream a copy of the formerly encrypted content back to its central servers to analyze further, even if the user objects, acting as true wiretapping service.

Facebook’s model entirely bypasses the encryption debate by globalizing the current practice of compromising devices by building those encryption bypasses directly into the communications clients themselves and deploying what amounts to machine-based wiretaps to billions of users at once.

Once this is in place, it’s easy for the government to demand that Facebook add another filter — one that searches for communications that they care about — and alert them when it gets triggered.

Of course alternatives like Signal will exist for those who don’t want to be subject to Facebook’s content moderation, but what happens when this filtering technology is built into operating systems?

The problem is that if Facebook’s model succeeds, it will only be a matter of time before device manufacturers and mobile operating system developers embed similar tools directly into devices themselves, making them impossible to escape. Embedding content scanning tools directly into phones would make it possible to scan all apps, including ones like Signal, effectively ending the era of encrypted communications.

I don’t think this will happen — why does AT&T care about content moderation — but it is something to watch?

EDITED TO ADD (8/2): This story is wrong. Read my correction.

Attorney General William Barr on Encryption Policy

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/07/attorney_genera_1.html

Yesterday, Attorney General William Barr gave a major speech on encryption policy — what is commonly known as “going dark.” Speaking at Fordham University in New York, he admitted that adding backdoors decreases security but that it is worth it.

Some hold this view dogmatically, claiming that it is technologically impossible to provide lawful access without weakening security against unlawful access. But, in the world of cybersecurity, we do not deal in absolute guarantees but in relative risks. All systems fall short of optimality and have some residual risk of vulnerability a point which the tech community acknowledges when they propose that law enforcement can satisfy its requirements by exploiting vulnerabilities in their products. The real question is whether the residual risk of vulnerability resulting from incorporating a lawful access mechanism is materially greater than those already in the unmodified product. The Department does not believe this can be demonstrated.

Moreover, even if there was, in theory, a slight risk differential, its significance should not be judged solely by the extent to which it falls short of theoretical optimality. Particularly with respect to encryption marketed to consumers, the significance of the risk should be assessed based on its practical effect on consumer cybersecurity, as well as its relation to the net risks that offering the product poses for society. After all, we are not talking about protecting the Nation’s nuclear launch codes. Nor are we necessarily talking about the customized encryption used by large business enterprises to protect their operations. We are talking about consumer products and services such as messaging, smart phones, e-mail, and voice and data applications. If one already has an effective level of security say, by way of illustration, one that protects against 99 percent of foreseeable threats is it reasonable to incur massive further costs to move slightly closer to optimality and attain a 99.5 percent level of protection? A company would not make that expenditure; nor should society. Here, some argue that, to achieve at best a slight incremental improvement in security, it is worth imposing a massive cost on society in the form of degraded safety. This is untenable. If the choice is between a world where we can achieve a 99 percent assurance against cyber threats to consumers, while still providing law enforcement 80 percent of the access it might seek; or a world, on the other hand, where we have boosted our cybersecurity to 99.5 percent but at a cost reducing law enforcements [sic] access to zero percent the choice for society is clear.

I think this is a major change in government position. Previously, the FBI, the Justice Department and so on had claimed that backdoors for law enforcement could be added without any loss of security. They maintained that technologists just need to figure out how: ­an approach we have derisively named “nerd harder.”

With this change, we can finally have a sensible policy conversation. Yes, adding a backdoor increases our collective security because it allows law enforcement to eavesdrop on the bad guys. But adding that backdoor also decreases our collective security because the bad guys can eavesdrop on everyone. This is exactly the policy debate we should be having­not the fake one about whether or not we can have both security and surveillance.

Barr makes the point that this is about “consumer cybersecurity,” and not “nuclear launch codes.” This is true, but ignores the huge amount of national security-related communications between those two poles. The same consumer communications and computing devices are used by our lawmakers, CEOs, legislators, law enforcement officers, nuclear power plant operators, election officials and so on. There’s no longer a difference between consumer tech and government tech — it’s all the same tech.

Barr also says:

Further, the burden is not as onerous as some make it out to be. I served for many years as the general counsel of a large telecommunications concern. During my tenure, we dealt with these issues and lived through the passage and implementation of CALEA the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. CALEA imposes a statutory duty on telecommunications carriers to maintain the capability to provide lawful access to communications over their facilities. Companies bear the cost of compliance but have some flexibility in how they achieve it, and the system has by and large worked. I therefore reserve a heavy dose of skepticism for those who claim that maintaining a mechanism for lawful access would impose an unreasonable burden on tech firms especially the big ones. It is absurd to think that we would preserve lawful access by mandating that physical telecommunications facilities be accessible to law enforcement for the purpose of obtaining content, while allowing tech providers to block law enforcement from obtaining that very content.

That telecommunications company was GTE­which became Verizon. Barr conveniently ignores that CALEA-enabled phone switches were used to spy on government officials in Greece in 2003 — which seems to have been an NSA operation — and on a variety of people in Italy in 2006. Moreover, in 2012 every CALEA-enabled switch sold to the Defense Department had security vulnerabilities. (I wrote about all this, and more, in 2013.)

The final thing I noticed about the speech is that is it not about iPhones and data at rest. It is about communications: ­data in transit. The “going dark” debate has bounced back and forth between those two aspects for decades. It seems to be bouncing once again.

I hope that Barr’s latest speech signals that we can finally move on from the fake security vs. privacy debate, and to the real security vs. security debate. I know where I stand on that: As computers continue to permeate every aspect of our lives, society, and critical infrastructure, it is much more important to ensure that they are secure from everybody — even at the cost of law-enforcement access — than it is to allow access at the cost of security. Barr is wrong, it kind of is like these systems are protecting nuclear launch codes.

This essay previously appeared on Lawfare.com.

EDITED TO ADD: More news articles.

EDITED TO ADD (7/28): Gen. Hayden comments.

EDITED TO ADD (7/30): Good response by Robert Graham.

Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Has Quantum Encryption Policy

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/07/presidential_ca.html

At least one presidential candidate has a policy about quantum computing and encryption.

It has two basic planks. One: fund quantum-resistant encryption standards. (Note: NIST is already doing this.) Two, fund quantum computing. (Unlike many far more pressing computer security problems, the market seems to be doing this on its own quite nicely.)

Okay, so not the greatest policy — but at least one candidate has a policy. Do any of the other candidates have anything else in this area?

Yang has also talked about blockchain: “

“I believe that blockchain needs to be a big part of our future,” Yang told a crowded room at the Consensus conference in New York, where he gave a keynote address Wednesday. “If I’m in the White House, oh boy are we going to have some fun in terms of the crypto currency community.”

Okay, so that’s not so great, either. But again, I don’t think anyone else talks about this.

Note: this is not an invitation to talk more general politics. Not even an invitation to explain how good or bad Andrew Yang’s chances are. Or anyone else’s. Please.

Google Releases Basic Homomorphic Encryption Tool

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/07/google_releases_1.html

Google has released an open-source cryptographic tool: Private Join and Compute. From a Wired article:

Private Join and Compute uses a 1970s methodology known as “commutative encryption” to allow data in the data sets to be encrypted with multiple keys, without it mattering which order the keys are used in. This is helpful for multiparty computation, where you need to apply and later peel away multiple layers of encryption without affecting the computations performed on the encrypted data. Crucially, Private Join and Compute also uses methods first developed in the ’90s that enable a system to combine two encrypted data sets, determine what they have in common, and then perform mathematical computations directly on this encrypted, unreadable data through a technique called homomorphic encryption.

True homomorphic encryption isn’t possible, and my guess is that it will never be feasible for most applications. But limited application tricks like this have been around for decades, and sometimes they’re useful.

Boing Boing article.

Yubico Security Keys with a Crypto Flaw

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/07/yubico_security.html

Wow, is this an embarrassing bug:

Yubico is recalling a line of security keys used by the U.S. government due to a firmware flaw. The company issued a security advisory today that warned of an issue in YubiKey FIPS Series devices with firmware versions 4.4.2 and 4.4.4 that reduced the randomness of the cryptographic keys it generates. The security keys are used by thousands of federal employees on a daily basis, letting them securely log-on to their devices by issuing one-time passwords.

The problem in question occurs after the security key powers up. According to Yubico, a bug keeps “some predictable content” inside the device’s data buffer that could impact the randomness of the keys generated. Security keys with ECDSA signatures are in particular danger. A total of 80 of the 256 bits generated by the key remain static, meaning an attacker who gains access to several signatures could recreate the private key.

Boing Boing post.

MongoDB Offers Field Level Encryption

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/06/mongodb_offers_.html

MongoDB now has the ability to encrypt data by field:

MongoDB calls the new feature Field Level Encryption. It works kind of like end-to-end encrypted messaging, which scrambles data as it moves across the internet, revealing it only to the sender and the recipient. In such a “client-side” encryption scheme, databases utilizing Field Level Encryption will not only require a system login, but will additionally require specific keys to process and decrypt specific chunks of data locally on a user’s device as needed. That means MongoDB itself and cloud providers won’t be able to access customer data, and a database’s administrators or remote managers don’t need to have access to everything either.

For regular users, not much will be visibly different. If their credentials are stolen and they aren’t using multifactor authentication, an attacker will still be able to access everything the victim could. But the new feature is meant to eliminate single points of failure. With Field Level Encryption in place, a hacker who steals an administrative username and password, or finds a software vulnerability that gives them system access, still won’t be able to use these holes to access readable data.

Germany Talking about Banning End-to-End Encryption

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/05/germany_talking.html

Der Spiegel is reporting that the German Ministry for Internal Affairs is planning to require all Internet message services to provide plaintext messages on demand, basically outlawing strong end-to-end encryption. Anyone not complying will be blocked, although the article doesn’t say how. (Cory Doctorow has previously explained why this would be impossible.)

The article is in German, and I would appreciate additional information from those who can speak the language.

EDITED TO ADD (6/2): Slashdot thread. This seems to be nothing more than political grandstanding: see this post from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Cryptanalysis of SIMON-32/64

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/05/cryptanalysis_o_4.html

A weird paper was posted on the Cryptology ePrint Archive (working link is via the Wayback Machine), claiming an attack against the NSA-designed cipher SIMON. You can read some commentary about it here. Basically, the authors claimed an attack so devastating that they would only publish a zero-knowledge proof of their attack. Which they didn’t. Nor did they publish anything else of interest, near as I can tell.

The paper has since been deleted from the ePrint Archive, which feels like the correct decision on someone’s part.

How to share encrypted AMIs across accounts to launch encrypted EC2 instances

Post Syndicated from Nishit Nagar original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-share-encrypted-amis-across-accounts-to-launch-encrypted-ec2-instances/

Do you encrypt your Amazon Machine Instances (AMIs) with AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) customer master keys (CMKs) for regulatory or compliance reasons? Do you launch instances with encrypted root volumes? Do you create a golden AMI and distribute it to other accounts in your organization for standardizing application-specific Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance launches? If so, then we have good news for you!

We’re happy to announce that you can now share AMIs encrypted with customer-managed CMKs across accounts with a single API call. Additionally, you can launch an EC2 instance directly from an encrypted AMI that has been shared with you. Previously, this was possible for unencrypted AMIs only. Extending this capability to encrypted AMIs simplifies your AMI distribution process and reduces the snapshot storage cost associated with the older method of sharing encrypted AMIs that resulted in a copy in each of your accounts.

In this post, we demonstrate how you can share an encrypted AMI between accounts and launch an encrypted, Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) backed EC2 instance from the shared AMI.

Prerequisites for sharing AMIs encrypted with a customer-managed CMK

Before you can begin sharing the encrypted AMI and launching an instance from it, you’ll need to set up your AWS KMS key policy and AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies.

For this walkthrough, you need two AWS accounts:

  1. A source account in which you build a custom AMI and encrypt the associated EBS snapshots.
  2. A target account in which you launch instances using the shared custom AMI with encrypted snapshots.

In this example, I’ll use fictitious account IDs 111111111111 and 999999999999 for the source account and the target account, respectively. In addition, you’ll need to create an AWS KMS customer master key (CMK) in the source account in the source region. For simplicity, I’ve created an AWS KMS CMK with the alias cmkSource under account 111111111111 in us-east-1. I’ll use this cmkSource to encrypt my AMI (ami-1234578) that I’ll share with account 999999999999. As you go through this post, be sure to change the account IDs, source account, AWS KMS CMK, and AMI ID to match your own.

Create the policy setting for the source account

First, an IAM user or role in the source account needs permission to share the AMI (an EC2 ModifyImageAttribute operation). The following JSON policy document shows an example of the permissions an IAM user or role policy needs to have. In order to share ami-12345678, you’ll need to create a policy like this:


    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "ec2: ModifyImageAttribute",
            ],
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:ec2:us-east-1::image/<12345678>"
            ]
        }
 ] 
}

Second, the target account needs permission to use cmkSource for re-encrypting the snapshots. The following steps walk you through how to add the target account’s ID to the cmkSource key policy.

  1. From the IAM console, select Encryption Keys in the left pane, and then select the source account’s CMK, cmkSource, as shown in Figure 1:
     
    Figure 1: Select "cmkSource"

    Figure 1: Select “cmkSource”

  2. Look for the External Accounts subsection, type the target account ID (for example, 999999999999), and then select Add External Account.
     
    Figure 2: Enter the target account ID and then select "Add External Account"

    Figure 2: Enter the target account ID and then select “Add External Account”

Create a policy setting for the target account

Once you’ve configured the source account, you need to configure the target account. The IAM user or role in the target account needs to be able to perform the AWS KMS DescribeKey, CreateGrant, ReEncrypt* and Decrypt operations on cmkSource in order to launch an instance from a shared encrypted AMI. The following JSON policy document shows an example of these permissions:


{
    "Version": "2012-10-17",
    "Statement": [
        {
            "Effect": "Allow",
            "Action": [
                "kms:DescribeKey",
                "kms:ReEncrypt*",
                "kms:CreateGrant",
                "kms:Decrypt"
            ],
            "Resource": [
                "arn:aws:kms:us-east-1:<111111111111>:key/<key-id of cmkSource>"
            ]                                                    
        }
    ]
}

Once you’ve completed the configuration steps in the source and target accounts, then you’re ready to share and launch encrypted AMIs. The actual sharing of the encrypted AMI is no different from sharing an unencrypted AMI. If you want to use the AWS Management Console, then follow the steps described in Sharing an AMI (Console). To use the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI), follow the steps described in Sharing an AMI (AWS CLI).

Below is an example of what the CLI command to share the AMI would look like:


aws ec2 modify-image-attribute --image-id <ami-12345678> --launch-permission "Add=[{UserId=<999999999999>}]"

Launch an instance from the shared encrypted AMI

To launch an AMI that was shared with you, set the AMI ID of the shared AMI in the image-id parameter of Run-Instances API/CLI. Optionally, to re-encrypt the volumes with a custom CMK in your account, you can specify the KmsKeyId in the Block Device Mapping as follows:


    $> aws ec2 run-instances 
    --image-id ami-
    --count 1 
    --instance-type m4.large 
    --region us-east-1
    --subnet-id subnet-aec2fc86 
    --key-name 2016KeyPair 
    --security-group-ids sg-f7dbc78e subnet-id subnet-aec2fc86 
    --block-device-mappings file://mapping.json    

Where the mapping.json contains the following:


[
    {
        "DeviceName": "/dev/xvda",
        "Ebs": {
                "Encrypted": true,
                "KmsKeyId": "arn:aws:kms:us-east-1:<999999999999>:key/<abcd1234-a123-456a-a12b-a123b4cd56ef>"
        }
    },
]

While launching the instance from a shared encrypted AMI, you can specify a CMK of your choice. You may also choose cmkSource to encrypt volumes in your account. However, we recommend that you re-encrypt the volumes using a CMK in the target account. This protects you if the source CMK is compromised, or if the source account revokes permissions, which could cause you to lose access to any encrypted volumes you created using cmkSource.

Summary

In this blog post, we discussed how you can easily share encrypted AMIs across accounts to launch encrypted instances. AWS has extended the same capabilities to snapshots, allowing you to create encrypted EBS volumes from shared encrypted snapshots.

This feature is available through the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or AWS SDKs at no extra charge in all commercial AWS regions except China. If you have feedback about this blog post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this blog post, start a new thread on the Amazon EC2 forum or contact AWS Support.

Want more AWS Security how-to content, news, and feature announcements? Follow us on Twitter.

Author

Nishit Nagar

Nishit is a Senior Product Manager at AWS.

How to quickly launch encrypted EBS-backed EC2 instances from unencrypted AMIs

Post Syndicated from Nishit Nagar original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/how-to-quickly-launch-encrypted-ebs-backed-ec2-instances-from-unencrypted-amis/

An Amazon Machine Image (AMI) provides the information that you need to launch an instance (a virtual server) in your AWS environment. There are a number of AMIs on the AWS Marketplace (such as Amazon Linux, Red Hat or Ubuntu) that you can use to launch an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance. When you launch an instance from these AMIs, the resulting volumes are unencrypted. However, for regulatory purposes or internal compliance reasons, you might need to launch instances with encrypted root volumes. Previously, this required you to follow a a multi-step process in which you maintained a separate, encrypted copy of the AMI in your account in order to launch instances with encrypted volumes. Now, you no longer need to maintain multiple AMI copies for encryption. To launch an encrypted Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) backed instance from an unencrypted AMI, you can directly specify the encryption properties in your existing workflow (such as with the RunInstances API or the Launch Instance Wizard). This simplifies the process of launching instances with encrypted volumes and reduces your associated AMI storage costs.

In this post, we demonstrate how you can start from an unencrypted AMI and launch an encrypted EBS-backed Amazon EC2 instance. We’ll show you how to do this from both the AWS Management Console, and using the RunInstances API with the AWS Command Line Interface (AWS CLI).

Launching an instance from the AWS Management Console

  1. Sign into the AWS Management Console and open the EC2 console.
  2. Select Launch instance, then follow the prompts of the launch wizard:
    1. In step 1 of the wizard, select the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) that you want to use.
    2. In step 2 of the wizard, select your instance type.
    3. In step 3, provide additional configuration details. For details about configuring your instances, see Launching an Instance.
    4. In step 4, specify your EBS volumes. The encryption properties of the volumes will be inherited from the AMI that you’ve chosen. If you’re using an unencrypted AMI, it will show up as “Not Encrypted.” From the dropdown, you can then select a customer master key (CMK) for encrypting the volume. You may select the same CMK for each volume that you want to create, or you may use a different CMK for each volume.
       
      Figure 1: Specifying your EBS volumes

      Figure 1: Specifying your EBS volumes

  3. Select Review and then Launch. Your instance will launch with an encrypted Amazon EBS volume that uses the CMK you selected. To learn more about the launch wizard, see Launching an Instance with Launch Wizard.

Launching an instance from the RunInstances API

From the RunInstances API/CLI, you can provide the kmsKeyID for encrypting the volumes that will be created from the AMI by specifying encryption in the BlockDeviceMapping (BDM) object. If you don’t specify the kmsKeyID in BDM but set the encryption flag to “true,” then AWS Managed CMK will be used for encrypting the volume.

For example, to launch an encrypted instance from an Amazon Linux AMI with an additional empty 100 GB of data volume (/dev/sdb), the API call would be as follows:


    $> aws ec2 run-instances 
    --image-id ami-009d6802948d06e52
    --count 1 
    --instance-ype m4.large 
    --region us-east-1
    --subnet-id subnet-aec2fc86 
    --key-name 2016KeyPair 
    --security-group-ids sg-f7dbc78e subnet-id subnet-aec2fc86 
    --block-device-mappings file://mapping.json    

Where the mapping.json contains the following:


[
    {
        "DeviceName": "/dev/xvda",
        "Ebs": {
                "Encrypted": true,
                "KmsKeyId": "arn:aws:kms:<us-east-1:012345678910>:key/<Example_Key_ID_12345>"
        }
    },

    {
        "DeviceName": "/dev/sdb",
        "Ebs": {
            "DeleteOnTermination": true,
            "VolumeSize": 100,
            "VolumeType": "gp2",
            "Encrypted": true,
            "KmsKeyId": "arn:aws:kms:<us-east-1:012345678910>:key/<Example_Key_ID_12345>"
        }
    }
]

You may specify different keys for different volumes. Providing a kmsKeyID without the encryption flag will result in an API error.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we demonstrated how you can quickly launch encrypted, EBS-backed instances from an unencrypted AMI in a few steps. You can also use the same process to launch EBS-backed encrypted volumes from unencrypted snapshots. This simplifies the process of launching instances with encrypted volumes and reduces your AMI storage costs.

This feature is available through the AWS Management Console, AWS CLI, or AWS SDKs at no extra charge in all commercial AWS regions except China. If you have feedback about this blog post, submit comments in the Comments section below. If you have questions about this blog post, start a new thread on the Amazon EC2 forum or contact AWS Support.

Want more AWS Security how-to content, news, and feature announcements? Follow us on Twitter.

Author

Nishit Nagar

Nishit is a Senior Product Manager at AWS.

Cryptanalyzing a Pair of Russian Encryption Algorithms

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/05/cryptanalyzing_.html

A pair of Russia-designed cryptographic algorithms — the Kuznyechik block cipher and the Streebog hash function — have the same flawed S-box that is almost certainly an intentional backdoor. It’s just not the kind of mistake you make by accident, not in 2014.

Stealing Ethereum by Guessing Weak Private Keys

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/04/stealing_ethere.html

Someone is stealing millions of dollars worth of Ethereum by guessing users’ private keys. Normally this should be impossible, but lots of keys seem to be very weak. Researchers are unsure how those weak keys are being generated and used.

Their paper is here.

G7 Comes Out in Favor of Encryption Backdoors

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/04/g7_comes_out_in.html

From a G7 meeting of interior ministers in Paris this month, an “outcome document“:

Encourage Internet companies to establish lawful access solutions for their products and services, including data that is encrypted, for law enforcement and competent authorities to access digital evidence, when it is removed or hosted on IT servers located abroad or encrypted, without imposing any particular technology and while ensuring that assistance requested from internet companies is underpinned by the rule law and due process protection. Some G7 countries highlight the importance of not prohibiting, limiting, or weakening encryption;

There is a weird belief amongst policy makers that hacking an encryption system’s key management system is fundamentally different than hacking the system’s encryption algorithm. The difference is only technical; the effect is the same. Both are ways of weakening encryption.

Improve clinical trial outcomes by using AWS technologies

Post Syndicated from Mayank Thakkar original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/improve-clinical-trial-outcomes-by-using-aws-technologies/

We are living in a golden age of innovation, where personalized medicine is making it possible to cure diseases that we never thought curable. Digital medicine is helping people with diseases get healthier, and we are constantly discovering how to use the body’s immune system to target and eradicate cancer cells. According to a report published by ClinicalTrials.gov, the number of registered studies hit 293,000 in 2018, representing a 250x growth since 2000.

However, an internal rate of return (IRR) analysis by Endpoints News, using data from EvaluatePharma, highlights some interesting trends. A flourishing trend in pharma innovation is supported by strong growth in registered studies. However, the IRR shows a rapidly declining trend, from around 17 percent in 2000 to below the cost of capital in 2017 and projected to go to 0 percent by 2020.

This blog post is the first installment in a series that focuses on the end-to-end workflow of collecting, storing, processing, visualizing, and acting on clinical trials data in a compliant and secure manner. The series also discusses the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to the world of clinical trials. In this post, we highlight common architectural patterns that AWS customers use to modernize their clinical trials. These incorporate mobile technologies for better evidence generation, cost reduction, increasing quality, improving access, and making medicine more personalized for patients.

Improving the outcomes of clinical trials and reducing costs

Biotech and pharma organizations are feeling the pressure to use resources as efficiently as possible. This pressure forces them to search for any opportunity to streamline processes, get faster, and stay more secure, all while decreasing costs. More and more life sciences companies are targeting biologics, CAR-T, and precision medicine therapeutics, with focus shifting towards smaller, geographically distributed patient segments. This shift has resulted in an increasing mandate to capture data from previously unavailable, nontraditional sources. These sources include mobile devices, IoT devices, and in-home and clinical devices. Life sciences companies merge data from these sources with data from traditional clinical trials to build robust evidence around the safety and efficacy of a drug.

Early last year, the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) provided recommendations about using mobile technologies for capturing holistic, high quality, attributable, real-world data from patients and for submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). By using mobile technologies, life sciences companies can reduce barriers to trial participation and lower costs associated with conducting clinical trials. Global regulatory groups such as the FDA, Health Canada, and Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), among others, are also in favor of using mobile technologies. Mobile technologies can make patient recruitment more efficient, reach endpoints faster, and reduce the cost and time required to conduct clinical trials.

Improvised data ingestion using mobile technologies can speed up outcomes, reduce costs, and improve the accuracy of clinical trials. This is especially true when mobile data ingestion is supplemented with artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) technologies.

Together, they can usher in a new age of smart clinical trials.

At the same time, traditional clinical trial processes and technology designed for mass-marketed blockbuster drugs can’t effectively meet emerging industry needs. This leaves life sciences and pharmaceutical companies in need of assistance for evolving their clinical trial operations. These circumstances result in making clinical trials one of the largest areas of investment for bringing a new drug to market.

Using mobile technologies with traditional technologies in clinical trials can improve the outcomes of the trials and simultaneously reduce costs. Some of the use cases that the integration of various technologies enables include these:

  • Identifying and tracking participants in clinical trials
    • Identifying participants for clinical trials recruitment
    • Educating and informing patients participating in clinical trials
    • Implementing standardized protocols and sharing associated information to trial participants
    • Tracking adverse events and safety profiles
  • Integrating genomic and phenotypic data for identifying novel biomarkers
  • Integrating mobile data into clinical trials for better clinical trial management
  • Creation of a patient-control arm based on historical data
  • Stratifying cohorts based on treatment, claims, and registry datasets
  • Building a collaborative, interoperable network for data sharing and knowledge creation
  • Building compliance-ready infrastructure for clinical trial management

The AWS Cloud provides HIPAA eligible services and solutions. As an AWS customer, you can use these to build solutions for global implementation of mobile devices and sensors in trials, secure capture of streaming Internet of Things (IoT) data, and advanced analytics through visualization tools or AI/ML capabilities. Some of the use cases these services and solutions enable are finding and recruiting patients using smart analytics, facilitating global data management, and remote or in-patient site monitoring. Others include predicting lack of adherence, detecting adverse events, and accelerating trial outcomes along with optimizing trial costs.

Clinical Trials 2.0 (CT2.0) at AWS is geared toward facilitating wider adoption of cloud-native services to enable data ingestion from disparate sources, cost-optimized and reliable storage, and holistic analytics. At the same time, CT2.0 provides the granular access control, end-to-end security, and global scalability needed to conduct clinical trials more efficiently.

Reference architecture

One of the typical architectures for managing a clinical trial using mobile technologies is shown following. This architecture focuses on capturing real-time data from mobile sources and providing a way to process it.

* – Additional considerations such as data security, access control, and compliance need to be incorporated into the architecture and are discussed in the remainder of this post.

Managing a trial by using this architecture consists of the following five major steps.

Step 1: Collect data

Mobile devices, personal wearables, instruments, and smart-devices are extensively being used (or being considered) by global pharmaceutical companies in patient care and clinical trials to provide data for activity tracking, vital signs monitoring, and so on, in real-time. Devices like infusion pumps, personal use dialysis machines, and so on require tracking and alerting of device consumables and calibration status. Remote settings management is also a major use case for these kinds of devices. The end-user mobile devices used in the clinical trial emit a lot of telemetry data that requires real-time data capture, data cleansing, transformation, and analysis.

Typically, these devices are connected to an edge node or a smart phone. Such a connection provides sufficient computing resources to stream data to AWS IoT Core. AWS IoT Core can then be configured to write data to Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose in near real time. Kinesis Data Firehose is a fully managed service for delivering real-time streaming data to destinations such as Amazon S3. S3 provides online, flexible, cost efficient, pay-as-you-go storage that can replicate your data on three Availability Zones within an AWS Region. The edge node or smart phone can use the AWS IoT SDKs to publish and subscribe device data to AWS IoT Core with MQTT. This process uses the AWS method of authentication (called ‘SigV4’), X.509 certificate–based authentication, and customer-created token-based authentication (through custom authorizers). This authenticated approach enables you to map your choice of policies to each certificate and remotely control device or application access. You can also use the Kinesis Data Firehose encryption feature to enable server-side data encryption.

You can also capture additional data such as Case Report Forms (CRF), Electronic Medical Records (EMR), and medical images using Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS). In addition, you can capture laboratory data (Labs) and other Patient Reported Outcomes data (ePRO). AWS provides multiple tools and services to effectively and securely connect to these data sources, enabling you to ingest data in various volumes, variety, and velocities. For more information about creating a HealthCare Data Hub and ingesting Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) data, see the AWS Big Data Blog post Create a Healthcare Data Hub with AWS and Mirth Connect.

Step 2: Store data

After data is ingested from the devices and wearables used in the clinical trial, Kinesis Data Firehose is used to store the data on Amazon S3. This stored data serves as a raw copy and can later be used for historical analysis and pattern prediction. Using Amazon S3’s lifecycle policies, you can periodically move your data to reduced cost storage such as Amazon S3 Glacier for further optimizing their storage costs. Using Amazon S3 Intelligent Tiering can automatically optimize costs when data access patterns change, without performance impact or operational overhead by moving data between two access tiers—frequent access and infrequent access. You can also choose to encrypt data at rest and in motion using various encryption options available on S3.

Amazon S3 offers an extremely durable, highly available, and infinitely scalable data storage infrastructure, simplifying most data processing, backup, and replication tasks.

Step 3: Data processingfast lane

After collecting and storing a raw copy of the data, Amazon S3 is configured to publish events to AWS Lambda and invoke a Lambda function by passing the event data as a parameter. The Lambda function is used to extract the key performance indicators (KPIs) such as adverse event notifications, medication adherence, and treatment schedule management from the incoming data. You can use Lambda to process these KPIs and store them in Amazon DynamoDB, along with encryption at rest, which powers a near-real-time clinical trial status dashboard. This alerts clinical trial coordinators in real time so that appropriate interventions can take place.

In addition to this, using a data warehouse full of medical records, you can train and implement a machine learning model. This model can predict which patients are about to switch medications or might exhibit adherence challenges in the future. Such prediction can enable clinical trial coordinators to narrow in on those patients with mitigation strategies.

Step 4: Data processing—batch

For historical analysis and pattern prediction, the staged data (stored in S3) is processed in batches. A Lambda function is used to trigger the extract, transform, and load (ETL) process every time new data is added to the raw data S3 bucket. This Lambda function triggers an ETL process using AWS Glue, a fully managed ETL service that makes it easy for you to prepare and load your data for analytics. This approach helps in mining current and historical data to derive actionable insights, which is stored on Amazon S3.

From there, data is loaded on to Amazon Redshift, a cost-effective, petabyte-scale data warehouse offering from AWS. You can also use Amazon Redshift Spectrum to extend data warehousing out to exabytes without loading any data to Amazon Redshift, as detailed in the Big Data blog post Amazon Redshift Spectrum Extends Data Warehousing Out to Exabytes—No Loading Required. This enables you to provide an all-encompassing picture of the entire clinical trial to your clinical trial coordinators, enabling you to react and respond faster.

In addition to this, you can train and implement a machine learning model to identify patients who might be at risk for adherence challenges. This enables clinical trial coordinators to reinforce patient education and support.

Step 5: Visualize and act on data

After the data is processed and ready to be consumed, you can use Amazon QuickSight, a cloud-native business intelligence service from AWS that offers native Amazon Redshift connectivity. Amazon QuickSight is serverless and so can be rolled out to your audiences in hours. You can also use a host of third-party reporting tools, which can use AWS-supplied JDBC or ODBC drivers or open-source PostgreSQL drivers to connect with Amazon Redshift. These tools include TIBCO Spotfire Analytics, Tableau Server, Qlik Sense Enterprise, Looker, and others. Real-time data processing (step 3 preceding) combines with historical-view batch processing (step 4). Together, they empower contract research organizations (CROs), study managers, trial coordinators, and other entities involved in the clinical trial journey to make effective and informed decisions at a speed and frequency that was previously unavailable. Using Amazon QuickSight’s unique Pay-per-Session pricing model, you can optimize costs for your bursty usage models by paying only when users access the dashboards.

Using Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), real-time feedback based on incoming data and telemetry is sent to patients by using text messages, mobile push, and emails. In addition, study managers and coordinators can send Amazon SNS notifications to patients. Amazon SNS provides a fully managed pub/sub messaging for micro services, distributed systems, and serverless applications. It’s designed for high-throughput, push-based, many-to-many messaging. Alerts and notifications can be based on current data or a combination of current and historical data.

To encrypt messages published to Amazon SNS, you can follow the steps listed in the post Encrypting messages published to Amazon SNS with AWS KMS, on the AWS Compute Blog.   

Data security, data privacy, data integrity, and compliance considerations

At AWS, customer trust is our top priority. We deliver services to millions of active customers, including enterprises, educational institutions, and government agencies in over 190 countries. Our customers include financial services providers, healthcare providers, and governmental agencies, who trust us with some of their most sensitive information.

To facilitate this, along with the services mentioned earlier, you should also use AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) service. IAM enables you to maintain segregation of access, fine-grained access control, and securing end user mobile and web applications. You can also use AWS Security Token Service (AWS STS) to provide secure, self-expiring, time-boxed, temporary security credentials to third-party administrators and service providers, greatly strengthening your security posture. You can use AWS CloudTrail to log IAM and STS API calls. Additionally, AWS IoT Device Management makes it easy to securely onboard, organize, monitor, and remotely manage IoT devices at scale.

With AWS, you can add an additional layer of security to your data at rest in the cloud. AWS provides scalable and efficient encryption features for services like Amazon EBS, Amazon S3, Amazon Redshift, Amazon SNSAWS Glue, and many more. Flexible key management options, including AWS Key Management Service, enable you to choose whether to have AWS manage the encryption keys or to keep complete control over their keys. In addition, AWS provides APIs for you to integrate encryption and data protection with any of the services that you develop or deploy in an AWS environment.

As a customer, you maintain ownership of your data, and select which AWS services can process, store, and host the content. Generally speaking, AWS doesn’t access or use customers’ content for any purpose without their consent. AWS never uses customer data to derive information for marketing or advertising.

When evaluating the security of a cloud solution, it’s important that you understand and distinguish between the security of the cloud and security in the cloud. The AWS Shared Responsibility Model details this relationship.

To assist you with your compliance efforts, AWS continues to add more services to the various compliance regulations, attestations, certifications, and programs across the world. To decide which services are suitable for you, see the services in scope page.

You can also use various services like, but not limited to, AWS CloudTrail, AWS Config, Amazon GuardDuty, and AWS Key Management Service (AWS KMS) to enhance your compliance and auditing efforts. Find more details in the AWS Compliance Solutions Guide.

Final thoughts

With the ever-growing interconnectivity and technological advances in the field of medical devices, mobile devices and sensors can improve numerous aspects of clinical trials. They can help in recruitment, informed consent, patient counseling, and patient communication management. They can also improve protocol and medication adherence, clinical endpoints measurement, and the process of alerting participants on adverse events. Smart sensors, smart mobile devices, and robust interconnecting systems can be central in conducting clinical trials.

Every biopharma organization conducting or sponsoring a clinical trial activity faces the conundrum of advancing their approach to trials while maintaining overall trial performance and data consistency. The AWS Cloud enables a new dimension for how data is collected, stored, and used for clinical trials. It thus addresses that conundrum as we march towards a new reality of how drugs are brought to market. The AWS Cloud abstracts away technical challenges such as scaling, security, and establishing a cost-efficient IT infrastructure. In doing so, it allows biopharma organizations to focus on their core mission of improving patent lives through the development of effective, groundbreaking treatments.

 


About the Author

Mayank Thakkar – Global Solutions Architect, AWS HealthCare and Life Sciences

 

 

 

 

Deven Atnoor, Ph.D. – Industry Specialist, AWS HealthCare and Life Sciences

 

 

 

 

Unhackable Cryptography?

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/04/unhackable_cryp.html

A recent article overhyped the release of EverCrypt, a cryptography library created using formal methods to prove security against specific attacks.

The Quanta magazine article sets off a series of “snake-oil” alarm bells. The author’s Github README is more measured and accurate, and illustrates what a cool project this really is. But it’s not “hacker-proof cryptographic code.”

CAs Reissue Over One Million Weak Certificates

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/03/cas_reissue_ove.html

Turns out that the software a bunch of CAs used to generate public-key certificates was flawed: they created random serial numbers with only 63 bits instead of the required 64. That may not seem like a big deal to the layman, but that one bit change means that the serial numbers only have half the required entropy. This really isn’t a security problem; the serial numbers are to protect against attacks that involve weak hash functions, and we don’t allow those weak hash functions anymore. Still, it’s a good thing that the CAs are reissuing the certificates. The point of a standard is that it’s to be followed.

I Was Cited in a Court Decision

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2019/03/i_was_cited_in_.html

An article I co-wrote — my first law journal article — was cited by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court — the state supreme court — in a case on compelled decryption.

Here’s the first, in footnote 1:

We understand the word “password” to be synonymous with other terms that cell phone users may be familiar with, such as Personal Identification Number or “passcode.” Each term refers to the personalized combination of letters or digits that, when manually entered by the user, “unlocks” a cell phone. For simplicity, we use “password” throughout. See generally, Kerr & Schneier, Encryption Workarounds, 106 Geo. L.J. 989, 990, 994, 998 (2018).

And here’s the second, in footnote 5:

We recognize that ordinary cell phone users are likely unfamiliar with the complexities of encryption technology. For instance, although entering a password “unlocks” a cell phone, the password itself is not the “encryption key” that decrypts the cell phone’s contents. See Kerr & Schneier, supra at 995. Rather, “entering the [password] decrypts the [encryption] key, enabling the key to be processed and unlocking the phone. This two-stage process is invisible to the casual user.” Id. Because the technical details of encryption technology do not play a role in our analysis, they are not worth belaboring. Accordingly, we treat the entry of a password as effectively decrypting the contents of a cell phone. For a more detailed discussion of encryption technology, see generally Kerr & Schneier, supra.