Entries tagged as https
Friday, July 15. 2016
In early April I reported security problems with the update process to the security contact of Joomla. While the issue has been fixed in Joomla 3.6, the communication process was far from ideal.
The issue itself is pretty simple: Up until recently Joomla fetched information about its updates over unencrypted and unauthenticated HTTP without any security measures.
The update process works in three steps. First of all the Joomla backend fetches a file list.xml from update.joomla.org that contains information about current versions. If a newer version than the one installed is found then the user gets a button that allows him to update Joomla. The file list.xml references an URL for each version with further information about the update called extension_sts.xml. Interestingly this file is fetched over HTTPS, while - in version 3.5 - the file list.xml is not. However this does not help, as the attacker can already intervene at the first step and serve a malicious list.xml that references whatever he wants. In extension_sts.xml there is a download URL for a zip file that contains the update.
Exploiting this for a Man-in-the-Middle-attacker is trivial: Requests to update.joomla.org need to be redirected to an attacker-controlled host. Then the attacker can place his own list.xml, which will reference his own extension_sts.xml, which will contain a link to a backdoored update. I have created a trivial proof of concept for this (just place that on the HTTP host that update.joomla.org gets redirected to).
I think it should be obvious that software updates are a security sensitive area and need to be protected. Using HTTPS is one way of doing that. Using any kind of cryptographic signature system is another way. Unfortunately it seems common web applications are only slowly learning that. Drupal only switched to HTTPS updates earlier this year. It's probably worth checking other web applications that have integrated update processes if they are secure (Wordpress is secure fwiw).
Now here's how the Joomla developers handled this issue: I contacted Joomla via their webpage on April 6th. Their webpage form didn't have a way to attach files, so I offered them to contact me via email so I could send them the proof of concept. I got a reply to that shortly after asking for it. This was the only communication from their side. Around two months later, on June 14th, I asked about the status of this issue and warned that I would soon publish it if I don't get a reaction. I never got any reply.
In the meantime Joomla had published beta versions of the then upcoming version 3.6. I checked that and noted that they have changed the update url from http://update.joomla.org/ to https://update.joomla.org/. So while they weren't communicating with me it seemed a fix was on its way. I then found that there was a pull request and a Github discussion that started even before I first contacted them. Joomla 3.6 was released recently, therefore the issue is fixed. However the release announcement doesn't mention it.
So all in all I contacted them about a security issue they were already in the process of fixing. The problem itself is therefore solved. But the lack of communication about the issue certainly doesn't cast a good light on Joomla's security process.
Friday, December 11. 2015
Important notice: After I published this text Adam Langley pointed out that a major assumption is wrong: Android 2.2 actually has no problems with SHA256-signed certificates. I checked this myself and in an emulated Android 2.2 instance I was able to connect to a site with a SHA256-signed certificate. I apologize for that error, I trusted the Cloudflare blog post on that. This whole text was written with that assumption in mind, so it's hard to change without rewriting it from scratch. I have marked the parts that are likely to be questioned. Most of it is still true and Android 2 has a problematic TLS stack (no SNI), but the specific claim regarding SHA256-certificates seems wrong.
This week both Cloudflare and Facebook announced that they want to delay the deprecation of certificates signed with the SHA1 algorithm. This spurred some hot debates whether or not this is a good idea – with two seemingly good causes: On the one side people want to improve security, on the other side access to webpages should remain possible for users of old devices, many of them living in poor countries. I want to give some background on the issue and ask why that unfortunate situation happened in the first place, because I think it highlights some of the most important challenges in the TLS space and more generally in IT security.
SHA1 broken since 2005
The SHA1 algorithm is a cryptographic hash algorithm and it has been know for quite some time that its security isn't great. In 2005 the Chinese researcher Wang Xiaoyun published an attack that would allow to create a collision for SHA1. The attack wasn't practically tested, because it is quite expensive to do so, but it was clear that a financially powerful adversary would be able to perform such an attack. A year before the even older hash function MD5 was broken practically, in 2008 this led to a practical attack against the issuance of TLS certificates. In the past years browsers pushed for the deprecation of SHA1 certificates and it was agreed that starting January 2016 no more certificates signed with SHA1 must be issued, instead the stronger algorithm SHA256 should be used. Many felt this was already far too late, given that it's been ten years since we knew that SHA1 is broken.
A few weeks before the SHA1 deadline Cloudflare and Facebook now question this deprecation plan. They have some strong arguments. According to Cloudflare's numbers there is still a significant number of users that use browsers without support for SHA256-certificates. And those users are primarily in relatively poor, repressive or war-ridden countries. The top three on the list are China, Cameroon and Yemen. Their argument, which is hard to argue with, is that cutting of SHA1 support will primarily affect the poorest users.
Cloudflare and Facebook propose a new mechanism to get legacy validated certificates. These certificates should only be issued to site operators that will use a technology to separate users based on their TLS handshake and only show the SHA1 certificate to those that use an older browser. Facebook already published the code to do that, Cloudflare also announced that they will release the code of their implementation. Right now it's still possible to get SHA1 certificates, therefore those companies could just register them now and use them for three years to come. Asking for this legacy validation process indicates that Cloudflare and Facebook don't see this as a short-term workaround, instead they seem to expect that this will be a solution they use for years to come, without any decided end date.
It's a tough question whether or not this is a good idea. But I want to ask a different question: Why do we have this problem in the first place, why is it hard to fix and what can we do to prevent similar things from happening in the future? One thing is remarkable about this problem: It's a software problem. In theory software can be patched and the solution to a software problem is to update the software. So why can't we just provide updates and get rid of these legacy problems?
Windows XP and Android Froyo
According to Cloudflare there are two main reason why so many users can't use sites with SHA256 certificates: Windows XP and old versions of Android (SHA256 support was added in Android 2.3, so this affects mostly Android 2.2 aka Froyo). We all know that Windows XP shouldn't be used any more, that its support has ended in 2014. But that clearly clashes with realities. People continue using old systems and Windows XP is still alive in many countries, especially in China.
But I'm inclined to say that Windows XP is probably the smaller problem here. With Service Pack 3 Windows XP introduced support for SHA256 certificates. By using an alternative browser (Firefox is still supported on Windows XP if you install SP3) it is even possible to have a relatively safe browsing experience. I'm not saying that I recommend it, but given the circumstances advising people how to update their machines and to install an alternative browser can party provide a way to reduce the reliance on broken algorithms.
The Updatability Gap
But the problem with Android is much, much worse, and I think this brings us to probably the biggest problem in IT security we have today. For years one of the most important messages to users in IT security was: Keep your software up to date. But at the same time the industry has created new software ecosystems where very often that just isn't an option.
In the Android case Google says that it's the responsibility of device vendors and carriers to deliver security updates. The dismal reality is that in most cases they just don't do that. But even if device vendors are willing to provide updates it usually only happens for a very short time frame. Google only supports the latest two Android major versions. For them Android 2.2 is ancient history, but for a significant portion of users it is still the operating system they use.
What we have here is a huge gap between the time frame devices get security updates and the time frame users use these devices. And pretty much everything tells us that the vendors in the Internet of Things ignore these problems even more and the updatability gap will become larger. Many became accustomed to the idea that phones get only used for a year, but it's hard to imagine how that's going to work for a fridge. What's worse: Whether you look at phones or other devices, they often actively try to prevent users from replacing the software on their own.
This is a hard problem to tackle, but it's probably the biggest problem IT security is facing in the upcoming years. We need to get a working concept for updates – a concept that matches the real world use of devices.
Substandard TLS implementations
But there's another part of the SHA1 deprecation story. As I wrote above since 2005 it was clear that SHA1 needs to go away. That was three years before Android was even published. But in 2010 Android still wasn't capable of supporting SHA256 certificates. Google has to take a large part of the blame here. While these days they are at the forefront of deploying high quality and up to date TLS stacks, they shipped a substandard and outdated TLS implementation in Android 2. (Another problem is that all Android 2 versions don't support Server Name Indication, a technology that allows to use different certificates for different hosts on one IP address.)
This is not the first such problem we are facing. With the POODLE vulnerability it became clear that the old SSL version 3 is broken beyond repair and it's impossible to use it safely. The only option was to deprecate it. However doing so was painful, because a lot of devices out there didn't support better protocols. The successor protocol TLS 1.0 (SSL/TLS versions are confusing, I know) was released in 1999. But the problem wasn't that people were using devices older than 1999. The problem was that many vendors shipped devices and software that only supported SSLv3 in recent years.
One example was Windows Phone 7. In 2011 this was the operating system on Microsoft's and Nokia's flagship product, the Lumia 800. Its mail client is unable to connect to servers not supporting SSLv3. It is just inexcusable that in 2011 Microsoft shipped a product which only supported a protocol that was deprecated 12 years earlier. It's even more inexcusable that they refused to fix it later, because it only came to light when Windows Phone 7 was already out of support.
The takeaway from this is that sloppiness from the past can bite you many years later. And this is what we're seeing with Android 2.2 now.
But you might think given these experiences this has stopped today. It hasn't. The largest deployer of substandard TLS implementations these days is Apple. Up until recently (before El Capitan) Safari on OS X didn't support any authenticated encryption cipher suites with AES-GCM and relied purely on the CBC block mode. The CBC cipher suites are a hot candidate for the next deprecation plan, because 2013 the http://www.isg.rhul.ac.uk/tls/Lucky13.html Lucky 13 attack has shown that they are really hard to implement safely. The situation for applications other than the browser (Mail etc.) is even worse on Apple devices. They only support the long deprecated TLS 1.0 protocol – and that's still the case on their latest systems.
There is widespread agreement in the TLS and cryptography community that the only really safe way to use TLS these days is TLS 1.2 with a cipher suite using forward secrecy and authenticated encryption (AES-GCM is the only standardized option for that right now, however ChaCha20/Poly1304 will come soon).
For the specific case of the SHA1 deprecation I would propose the following: Cloudflare and Facebook should go ahead with their handshake workaround for the next years, as long as their current certificates are valid. But this time should be used to find solutions. Reach out to those users visiting your sites and try to understand what could be done to fix the situation. For the Windows XP users this is relatively easy – help them updating their machines and preferably install another browser, most likely that'd be Firefox. For Android there is probably no easy solution, but we have some of the largest Internet companies involved here. Please seriously ask the question: Is it possible to retrofit Android 2.2 with a reasonable TLS stack? What ways are there to get that onto the devices? Is it possible to install a browser app with its own TLS stack on at least some of those devices? This probably doesn't work in most cases, because on many cheap phones there just isn't enough space to install large apps. In the long term I hope that the tech community will start tackling the updatability problem.
In the TLS space I think we need to make sure that no more substandard TLS deployments get shipped today. Point out the vendors that do so and pressure them to stop. It wasn't acceptable in 2010 to ship TLS with long-known problems and it isn't acceptable today.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Monday, November 23. 2015
tl;dr Dell laptops come preinstalled with a root certificate and a corresponding private key. That completely compromises the security of encrypted HTTPS connections. I've provided an online check, affected users should delete the certificate.
It seems that Dell hasn't learned anything from the Superfish-scandal earlier this year: Laptops from the company come with a preinstalled root certificate that will be accepted by browsers. The private key is also installed on the system and has been published now. Therefore attackers can use Man in the Middle attacks against Dell users to show them manipulated HTTPS webpages or read their encrypted data.
The certificate, which is installed in the system's certificate store under the name "eDellRoot", gets installed by a software called Dell Foundation Services. This software is still available on Dell's webpage. According to the somewhat unclear description from Dell it is used to provide "foundational services facilitating customer serviceability, messaging and support functions".
The private key of this certificate is marked as non-exportable in the Windows certificate store. However this provides no real protection, there are Tools to export such non-exportable certificate keys. A user of the plattform Reddit has posted the Key there.
For users of the affected Laptops this is a severe security risk. Every attacker can use this root certificate to create valid certificates for arbitrary web pages. Even HTTP Public Key Pinning (HPKP) does not protect against such attacks, because browser vendors allow locally installed certificates to override the key pinning protection. This is a compromise in the implementation that allows the operation of so-called TLS interception proxies.
I was made aware of this issue a while ago by Kristof Mattei. We asked Dell for a statement three weeks ago and didn't get any answer.
It is currently unclear which purpose this certificate served. However it seems unliklely that it was placed there deliberately for surveillance purposes. In that case Dell wouldn't have installed the private key on the system.
Affected are only users that use browsers or other applications that use the system's certificate store. Among the common Windows browsers this affects the Internet Explorer, Edge and Chrome. Not affected are Firefox-users, Mozilla's browser has its own certificate store.
Users of Dell laptops can check if they are affected with an online check tool. Affected users should immediately remove the certificate in the Windows certificate manager. The certificate manager can be started by clicking "Start" and typing in "certmgr.msc". The "eDellRoot" certificate can be found under "Trusted Root Certificate Authorities". You also need to remove the file Dell.Foundation.Agent.Plugins.eDell.dll, Dell has now posted an instruction and a removal tool.
This incident is almost identical with the Superfish-incident. Earlier this year it became public that Lenovo had preinstalled a software called Superfish on its Laptops. Superfish intercepts HTTPS-connections to inject ads. It used a root certificate for that and the corresponding private key was part of the software. After that incident several other programs with the same vulnerability were identified, they all used a software module called Komodia. Similar vulnerabilities were found in other software products, for example in Privdog and in the ad blocker Adguard.
This article is mostly a translation of a German article I wrote for Golem.de.
Image source and license: Wistula / Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons by 3.0
Update (2015-11-24): Second Dell root certificate DSDTestProvider
I just found out that there is a second root certificate installed with some Dell software that causes exactly the same issue. It is named DSDTestProvider and comes with a software called Dell System Detect. Unlike the Dell Foundations Services this one does not need a Dell computer to be installed, therefore it was trivial to extract the certificate and the private key. My online test now checks both certificates. This new certificate is not covered by Dell's removal instructions yet.
Dell has issued an official statement on their blog and in the comment section a user mentioned this DSDTestProvider certificate. After googling what DSD might be I quickly found it. There have been concerns about the security of Dell System Detect before, Malwarebytes has an article about it from April mentioning that it was vulnerable to a remote code execution vulnerability.
Update (2015-11-26): Service tag information disclosure
Another unrelated issue on Dell PCs was discovered in a tool called Dell Foundation Services. It allows webpages to read an unique service tag. There's also an online check.
Thursday, August 13. 2015
In February the discovery of a software called Superfish caused widespread attention. Superfish caused a severe security vulnerability by intercepting HTTPS connections with a Man-in-the-Middle-certificate. The certificate and the corresponding private key was shared amongst all installations.
The use of Man-in-the-Middle-proxies for traffic interception is a widespread method, an application installs a root certificate into the browser and later intercepts connections by creating signed certificates for webpages on the fly. It quickly became clear that Superfish was only the tip of the iceberg. The underlying software module Komodia was used in a whole range of applications all suffering from the same bug. Later another software named Privdog was found that also intercepted HTTPS traffic and I published a blog post explaining that it was broken in a different way: It completely failed to do any certificate verification on its connections.
In a later blogpost I analyzed several Antivirus applications that also intercept HTTPS traffic. They were not as broken as Superfish or Privdog, but all of them decreased the security of the TLS encryption in one way or another. The most severe issue was that Kaspersky was at that point still vulnerable to the FREAK bug, more than a month after it was discovered. In a comment to that blogpost I was asked about a software called Adguard. I have to apologize that it took me so long to write this up.
Different certificate, same key
The first thing I did was to install Adguard two times in different VMs and look at the root certificate that got installed into the browser. The fingerprint of the certificates was different. However a closer look revealed something interesting: The RSA modulus was the same. It turned out that Adguard created a new root certificate with a changing serial number for every installation, but it didn't generate a new key. Therefore it is vulnerable to the same attacks as Superfish.
I reported this issue to Adguard. Adguard has fixed this issue, however they still intercept HTTPS traffic.
I learned that Adguard did not always use the same key, instead it chose one out of ten different keys based on the CPU. All ten keys could easily be extracted from a file called ProtocolFilters.dll that was shipped with Adguard. Older versions of Adguard only used one key shared amongst all installations. There also was a very outdated copy of the nss library. It suffers from various vulnerabilities, however it seems they are not exploitable. The library is not used for TLS connections, its only job is to install certificates into the Firefox root store.
Meet Privdog again
The outdated nss version gave me a hint, because I had seen this before: In Privdog. I had spend some time trying to find out if Privdog would be vulnerable to known nss issues (which had the positive side effect that Filippo created proof of concept code for the BERserk vulnerability). What I didn't notice back then was the shared key issue. Privdog also used the same key amongst different installations. So it turns out Privdog was completely broken in two different ways: By sharing the private key amongst installations and by not verifying certificates.
The latest version of Privdog no longer intercepts HTTPS traffic, it works as a browser plugin now. I don't know whether this vulnerability was still present after the initial fix caused by my original blog post.
Now what is this ProtocolFilters.dll? It is a commercial software module that is supposed to be used along with a product called Netfilter SDK. I wondered where else this would be found and if we would have another widely used software module like Komodia.
ProtocolFilters.dll is mentioned a lot in the web, mostly in the context of Potentially Unwanted Applications, also called Crapware. That means software that is either preinstalled or that gets bundled with installers from other software and is often installed without users consent or by tricking the user into clicking some "ok" button without knowing that he or she agrees to install another software. Unfortunately I was unable to get my hands on any other software using it.
Lots of "Potentially Unwanted Applications" use ProtocolFilters.dll
Software names that I found that supposedly include ProtocolFilters.dll: Coupoon, CashReminder, SavingsDownloader, Scorpion Saver, SavingsbullFilter, BRApp, NCupons, Nurjax, Couponarific, delshark, rrsavings, triosir, screentk. If anyone has any of them or any other piece of software bundling ProtocolFilters.dll I'd be interested in receiving a copy.
I'm publishing all Adguard keys and the Privdog key together with example certificates here. I also created a trivial script that can be used to extract keys from ProtocolFilters.dll (or other binary files that include TLS private keys in their binary form). It looks for anything that could be a private key by its initial bytes and then calls OpenSSL to try to decode it. If OpenSSL succeeds it will dump the key.
Finally an announcement for visitors of the Chaos Communication Camp: I will give a talk about TLS interception issues and the whole story of Superfish, Privdog and friends on Sunday.
Update: Due to the storm the talk was delayed. It will happen on Monday at 12:30 in Track South.
Sunday, April 26. 2015
How Kaspersky makes you vulnerable to the FREAK attack and other ways Antivirus software lowers your HTTPS security
Lately a lot of attention has been payed to software like Superfish and Privdog that intercepts TLS connections to be able to manipulate HTTPS traffic. These programs had severe (technically different) vulnerabilities that allowed attacks on HTTPS connections.
What these tools do is a widespread method. They install a root certificate into the user's browser and then they perform a so-called Man in the Middle attack. They present the user a certificate generated on the fly and manage the connection to HTTPS servers themselves. Superfish and Privdog did this in an obviously wrong way, Superfish by using the same root certificate on all installations and Privdog by just accepting every invalid certificate from web pages. What about other software that also does MitM interception of HTTPS traffic?
Antivirus software intercepts your HTTPS traffic
Many Antivirus applications and other security products use similar techniques to intercept HTTPS traffic. I had a closer look at three of them: Avast, Kaspersky and ESET. Avast enables TLS interception by default. By default Kaspersky intercepts connections to certain web pages (e. g. banking), there is an option to enable interception by default. In ESET TLS interception is generally disabled by default and can be enabled with an option.
When a security product intercepts HTTPS traffic it is itself responsible to create a TLS connection and check the certificate of a web page. It has to do what otherwise a browser would do. There has been a lot of debate and progress in the way TLS is done in the past years. A number of vulnerabilities in TLS (upon them BEAST, CRIME, Lucky Thirteen, FREAK and others) allowed to learn much more how to do TLS in a secure way. Also, problems with certificate authorities that issued malicious certificates (Diginotar, Comodo, Türktrust and others) led to the development of mitigation technologies like HTTP Public Key Pinning (HPKP) and Certificate Transparency to strengthen the security of Certificate Authorities. Modern browsers protect users much better from various threats than browsers used several years ago.
You may think: "Of course security products like Antivirus applications are fully aware of these developments and do TLS and certificate validation in the best way possible. After all security is their business, so they have to get it right." Unfortunately that's only what's happening in some fantasy IT security world that only exists in the minds of people that listened to industry PR too much. The real world is a bit different: All Antivirus applications I checked lower the security of TLS connections in one way or another.
Disabling of HTTP Public Key Pinning
Each and every TLS intercepting application I tested breaks HTTP Public Key Pinning (HPKP). It is a technology that a lot of people in the IT security community are pretty excited about: It allows a web page to pin public keys of certificates in a browser. On subsequent visits the browser will only accept certificates with these keys. It is a very effective protection against malicious or hacked certificate authorities issuing rogue certificates.
Browsers made a compromise when introducing HPKP. They won't enable the feature for manually installed certificates. The reason for that is simple (although I don't like it): If they hadn't done that they would've broken all TLS interception software like these Antivirus applications. But the applications could do the HPKP checking themselves. They just don't do it.
Kaspersky vulnerable to FREAK and CRIME
Having a look at Kaspersky, I saw that it is vulnerable to the FREAK attack, a vulnerability in several TLS libraries that was found recently. Even worse: It seems this issue has been reported publicly in the Kaspersky Forums more than a month ago and it is not fixed yet. Please remember: Kaspersky enables the HTTPS interception by default for sites it considers as especially sensitive, for example banking web pages. Doing that with a known security issue is extremely irresponsible.
I also found a number of other issues. ESET doesn't support TLS 1.2 and therefore uses a less secure encryption algorithm. Avast and ESET don't support OCSP stapling. Kaspersky enables the insecure TLS compression feature that will make a user vulnerable to the CRIME attack. Both Avast and Kaspersky accept nonsensical parameters for Diffie Hellman key exchanges with a size of 8 bit. Avast is especially interesting because it bundles the Google Chrome browser. It installs a browser with advanced HTTPS features and lowers its security right away.
These TLS features are all things that current versions of Chrome and Firefox get right. If you use them in combination with one of these Antivirus applications you lower the security of HTTPS connections.
There's one more interesting thing: Both Kaspersky and Avast don't intercept traffic when Extended Validation (EV) certificates are used. Extended Validation certificates are the ones that show you a green bar in the address line of the browser with the company name. The reason why they do so is obvious: Using the interception certificate would remove the green bar which users might notice and find worrying. The message the Antivirus companies are sending seems clear: If you want to deliver malware from a web page you should buy an Extended Validation certificate.
Everyone gets HTTPS interception wrong - just don't do it
So what do we make out of this? A lot of software products intercept HTTPS traffic (antiviruses, adware, youth protection filters, ...), many of them promise more security and everyone gets it wrong.
I think these technologies are a misguided approach. The problem is not that they make mistakes in implementing these technologies, I think the idea is wrong from the start. Man in the Middle used to be a description of an attack technique. It seems strange that it turned into something people consider a legitimate security technology. Filtering should happen on the endpoint or not at all. Browsers do a lot these days to make your HTTPS connections more secure. Please don't mess with that.
I question the value of Antivirus software in a very general sense, I think it's an approach that has very fundamental problems in itself and often causes more harm than good. But at the very least they should try not to harm other working security mechanisms.
(You may also want to read this EFF blog post: Dear Software Vendors: Please Stop Trying to Intercept Your Customers’ Encrypted Traffic)
Sunday, June 15. 2014
I recently held a workshop about cryptography for web developers at the company Internations. I am publishing the slides here.
Part 1: Crypto and Web [PDF] [LaTeX], [Slideshare]
Part 2: How broken is TLS? [PDF] [LaTeX], [Slideshare]
Part 3: Don't do this yourself [PDF] [LaTeX], [Slideshare]
Part 4: Hashing, Tokens, Randomness [PDF] [LaTeX], [Slideshare]
Part 5: Don't believe the Crypto Hype [PDF] [LaTeX] [Slideshare]
Part 2 is the same talk I recently have at the Easterhegg conference about TLS.
Friday, June 6. 2014
I recently switched my personal web page and my blog to deliver content exclusively encrypted via HTTPS. I want to take this opportunity to give some facts about enabling TLS encryption by default and problems you may face.
First of all the non-problems: Enabling HTTPS by default is almost never a significant performance problem. If people tell me that they can not possibly enable HTTPS due to performance reasons the first thing I ask is if they believe this or if they have real benchmark data showing this. If you don't believe me on that, I can quote Adam Langley from Google here: "In January this year (2010), Gmail switched to using HTTPS for everything by default. Previously it had been introduced as an option, but now all of our users use HTTPS to secure their email between their browsers and Google, all the time. In order to do this we had to deploy no additional machines and no special hardware. On our production frontend machines, SSL/TLS accounts for less than 1% of the CPU load, less than 10KB of memory per connection and less than 2% of network overhead."
Enabling HTTPS may cause a number of compatibility issues you may not instantly think about. First of all, we know that IPs in the IPv4 space are limited and expensive these days, so many people probably can't afford having a distinct IP for their web page. The solution to that is a TLS extension called SNI (Server Name Indication) which allows to have different certificates for different domain names on the same IP. It works in all major browsers and has been working for quite some time. The only major browser you'll face these days that doesn't support SNI is the Android 2.x browser.
There are some subtle issues with SNI. One is that browsers have fallback modes if they cannot connect via TLS and that may lead to a connection downgrade to SSLv3. And that ancient protocol doesn't support extensions and thus no SNI. So you may have irregular certificate errors if you are on a bad connection. A solution to that on the server side is to just disable SSLv3. It will make SNI much more reliable.
I don't really have a clear picture how many browsers will fail with SNI. There are probably a number of embedded devices out there like smart TVs with browsers or things alike that have problems. If you have any experiences feel free to post them in the comments.
The first issue I only noticed after I switched to HTTPS: I had an application called RSS Graffiti set up to automatically post all articles I write to a facebook fan page. After changing to HTTPS only it silently stopped working. Re-adding my feed didn't work. I now found a similar service called dlvr.it that I now use to post my RSS feed to facebook. I can only assume that this is a glimpse of a much bigger problem: There are probably tons of applications and online services out there not prepared for an encrypted Internet. If we want more people to deploy encryption by default we need to find these issues, document them and hopefully put enough pressure on their developers to fix them.
Another yet unfixed issue is the Yandex Bot. Yandex is a search engine and although you may never have heard of it it's probably one of the few companies in this area that can claim to be a serious competitor to Google. The reason you may not know it is that it's mostly operating in Russian language. Depending on who your page visitors are this may matter more or less.
The Yandex Bot speaks SSL but according to the Qualys SSL test it only supports the ancient SSLv3. So you have a choice between three possibilities: Don't enable HTTPS by default, enable HTTPS with a shitty configuration supporting ancient technology that will cause trouble for SNI or enable HTTPS with a sane configuration and get no traffic from the leading Russian search engine. None of them sounds very good to me.
Tuesday, April 29. 2014
A number of people seem to be confused how to correctly install certificate chains for TLS servers. This happens quite often on HTTPS sites and to avoid having to explain things again and again I thought I'd write up something so I can refer to it. A few days ago flattr.com had a missing certificate chain (fixed now after I reported it) and various pages from the Chaos Computer Club have no certificate chain (not the main page, but several subdomains like events.ccc.de and frab.cccv.de). I've tried countless times to tell someone, but the problem persists. Maybe someone in charge will read this and fix it.
Web browsers ship a list of certificate authorities (CAs) that are allowed to issue certificates for HTTPS websites. The whole system is inherently problematic, but right now that's not the point I want to talk about. Most of the time, people don't get their certificate from one of the root CAs but instead from a subordinate CA. Every CA is allowed to have unlimited numbers of sub CAs.
The correct way of delivering a certificate issued by a sub CA is to deliver both the host certificate and the certificate of the sub CA. This is neccesarry so the browser can check the complete chain from the root to the host. For example if you buy your certificate from RapidSSL then the RapidSSL cert is not in the browser. However, the RapidSSL certificate is signed by GeoTrust and that is in your browser. So if your HTTPS website delivers both its own certificate by RapidSSL and the RapidSSL certificate, the browser can validate the whole chain.
However, and here comes the tricky part: If you forget to deliver the chain certificate you often won't notice. The reason is that browsers cache chain certificates. In our example above if a user first visits a website with a certificate from RapidSSL and the correct chain the browser will already know the RapidSSL certificate. If the user then surfs to a page where the chain is missing the browser will still consider the certificate as valid. Such certificates with missing chain have been called transvalid, I think the term was first used by the EFF for their SSL Observatory.
Now the CCC uses certificates from CAcert.org. Two more issues pop up here that make things even more complicated. First of all, the root certificate of CAcert is not in browsers, users have to manually import it. But CAcert offers both their root (Class 1) and sub (Class 3) certificate on the same webpage and doesn't really tell users that they usually only have to import the root. So everyone who imports both certificates will see transvalid CAcert certificates as valid. The second issue that pops up is that browsers sometimes do weird things when it comes to certificate error messages. I have no idea why exactly this is happening, but if you have the CAcert root installed and use Chromium to surf to a page with a transvalid CAcert certificate, it'll warn you about a weak signature algorithm. This doesn't make any sense, I can only assume that it has something to do with the fact that the CAcert root is self-signed with MD5 (which isn't a security issue, because self-signatures don't really have any meaning, they're just there because X.509 doesn't allow certificates without a signature).
Chromium with bogus error message on a transvalid certificate
So how can you check if you have a transvalid certificate? One way is to use a fresh browser installation without anything cached. If you then surf to a page with a transvalid certificate, you'll get an error message (however, as we've just seen, not neccessarily a meaningful one). An easier way is to use the SSL Test from Qualys. It has a line "Chain issues" and if it shows "None" you're fine. If it shows "Incomplete" then your certificate is most likely transvalid. If it shows anything else you have other things to look after (a common issues is that people unneccesarily send the root certificate, which doesn't cause issues but may make things slower). The Qualys test test will tell you all kinds of other things about your TLS configuration. If it tells you something is insecure you should probably look after that, too.
Saturday, January 19. 2013
Yesterday, we had a meeting at CAcert Berlin where I had a little talk about how to almost-perfectly configure your HTTPS server. Motivation for that was the very nice Qualys SSL Server test, which can remote-check your SSL configuration and tell you a bunch of things about it.
While playing with that, I created a test setup which passes with 100 points in the Qualys test. However, you will hardly be able to access that page, which is mainly due to it's exclusive support for TLS 1.2. All major browsers fail. Someone from the audience told me that the iPhone browser was successfully able to access the page. To safe the reputation of free software, someone else found out that the Midori browser is also capable of accessing it. I've described what I did there on the page itself and you may also read it here via http.
Here are my slides "SSL, X.509, HTTPS - How to configure your HTTPS server" as ODP, as PDF and on Slideshare.
And some links mentioned in the slides:
Check SSL and SSH weak keys due to broken random numbers
EFF SSL Observatory
Sovereign Keys proect
Some great talks on the mentioned topics by others:
Facthacks Talk 29c3
MD5 considered harmful today - Creating a rogue CA Certificate
Is the SSLiverse a safe place?
Update: As people seem to find these browser issue interesting: It's been pointed out that the iPad Browser also works. Opera with TLS 1.2 enabled seems to work for some people, but not for me (maybe Windows-only). luakit and epiphany also work, but they don't check certificates at all, so that kind of doesn't count.
Tuesday, January 13. 2009
In the last weeks, I made a study research project at the EISS at the University of Karlsruhe. The subject was »Session Cookies and SSL«, investigating the problems that arise when trying to secure a web application with HTTPS and using session cookies.
I already wrote about this in the past, presenting vulnerabilities in various web applications.
One of the notable results is probably that ebay has just no measurements against those issues at all, so it's pretty trivial to hijack a session (and use that to do bids and even change the address of the hijacked account).
Download »Session Cookies and SSL« (PDF, 317 KB)
Wednesday, October 24. 2007
A big problem with web security in the past was that it was impossible to have https-hosts with more than one certificate per IP. This is due to the protocol design of https, which needs to establish an ssl-connection with the certificate before the hostname is transferred.
There is a solution though, called Server Name Indication (SNI) and part of TLS. Strange enough, client compatibility isn't that much of a problem. Firefox, Opera and IE already support it in their current versions, konqueror will with kde4, I've no information when it'll hit safari. Oh, and I haven't testet w3m, lynx, links and wget yet, but if you want, feel free to add your experiences to the comments :-)
The problem was that until some weeks ago, openssl didn't support SNI, apachen mod_ssl didn't, lighttpd didn't. Only GnuTLS, but mod_gnutls is considered unstable by it's authors. With OpenSSL 0.9.8f, TLS Extensions and with them SNI landet in openssl, apache still needs patches.
We've now implemented SNI on schokokeks.org, which you can test:
If your browser supports SNI, you should see different certificates, all on the same IP. All certs are cacert-signed, they also have a Wiki page from the VhostTaskForce for SNI and alternative solutions.
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