A group of security researchers discovered that SSLv2 (Secure Sockets Layer protocol version 2.0) is vulnerable to the Bleichenbacher RSA padding oracle attack, which can be used to decrypt RSA cipher text without the knowledge of the matching private RSA key. This can be done by observing responses from a server that has the private key and performs the decryption of attacker-provided cipher texts using that key. The researchers also demonstrated a new cross-protocol attack which allows decryption of SSL/TLS sessions using newer protocol versions - SSLv3 or any current TLS (Transport Layer Security) version (1.0 - 1.2) - using this SSLv2 weakness. This flaw is a SSLv2 protocol issue and affects all implementations of the protocol. Researchers refer to this attack as general DROWN.
Additionally, flaws were found in the SSLv2 protocol implementation in the OpenSSL cryptography and SSL/TLS library, which make it possible to perform a more efficient variant of the DROWN attack, referred to as special DROWN. These issues were assigned CVE-2016-0703 and CVE-2016-0704 , and were already recently corrected as part of the fix for CVE-2015-0293 .
Further details of this attack can be found in the researchers' paper titled DROWN: Breaking TLS using SSLv2 at https://drownattack.com/ ,
Impact to systems
A server is vulnerable to the DROWN attack if it enables SSLv2 protocol in addition to SSLv3 or TLSv1.x, and if it uses RSA key exchange cipher suites. Server that does not enable SSLv2 can also be vulnerable if it does not enable SSLv2, but shares its private RSA key with another server. For example, DROWN attack can still be used to decrypt HTTPS sessions to a web server that does not enable SSLv2 if it shares its RSA key with e.g. IMAP server, possibly running on the same host, that does enable SSLv2. Use of weak or export SSLv2 ciphers is required to efficiently perform the attack.
SSL/TLS connections using non-RSA key exchange, such as Diffie-Hellman or Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman, can not be decrypted using the DROWN attack.