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SoylentNews is people

posted by NCommander on Monday August 08 2016, @12:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the now-with-a+-scores dept.

So after an extended period of inactivity, I've finally decided to jump back into working on SoylentNews and rehash (the code that powers the site). As such, I've decided to scratch some long-standing itches. The first (and easiest) to deploy was HSTS to SoylentNews. What is HSTS you may ask?

HSTS stands for HTTP Strict Transport Security and is a special HTTP header that signifies that a site should only be connected to over HTTPS and causes the browser to automatically load encrypted versions of a website should it see a regular URL. We've forbid non-SSL connections to SN for over a year, but without HSTS in place, a man-in-the-middle downgrade attack was possible by intercepting the initial insecure page load.

One of the big views I have towards SoylentNews is we should be representative of "best practices" on the internet. To that end, we deployed IPv6 publicly last year, and went HTTPS-by-default not long after that. Deploying HSTS continues this trend, and I'm working towards implementing other good ideas that rarely seem to see the light of day.

Check past the break for more technical details.


As part of prepping for HSTS deployment, I went through every site in our public DNS records, and made sure they all have valid SSL certificates, and are redirecting to HTTPS by default. Much to my embarrassment, I found that several of our public facing sites lacked SSL support at all, or had self-signed certificates and broken SSL configurations. This has been rectified.

Let this be a lesson to everyone. While protecting your "main site" is always a good idea, make sure when going through and securing your infrastructure that you check every public IP and public hostname to make sure something didn't slip through the gaps. If you're running SSLLabs against your website, I highly recommend you scan all the subjectAlternativeNames listed in your certificate. Apache and nginx can provide different SSL options for different VHosts, and its very important to make sure all of them have a sane and consistent configuration.

Right now, HSTS is deployed only on the main site, without "includeSubdomains". The reason for this is I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any non-SSL capable sites, and I'm still working on getting our CentOS 6.7 box up to best-practices (unfortunately, the version of Apache it ships with is rather dated and doesn't support OSCP stapling. I'll be fixing this, but just haven't gotten around to it yet).

Once I've fixed that, and am happy with the state of the site, SN, and her subdomains will be submitted for inclusion into browser preload lists. I'll run an article when that submission happens and when we're accepted. I hope to have another article this week on backend tinkering and proposed site updates.

Until then, happy hacking!
~ NCommander

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  • (Score: 2) by Dr Spin on Monday August 08 2016, @01:33PM

    by Dr Spin (5239) on Monday August 08 2016, @01:33PM (#385283)
    I have tried to install and use 16.04 twice. The install works, although the fact that it fails to support my Dell monitor (WTF?) makes that less than obvious. Using it is a monster fail, owing to the fact that numerous features have been removed or mangled beyond recognition. (eg the virtual desktop switcher no longer lets you click on the one you want, but now you have to click to get a drop down with numbers but not a thumbnail) its like strapping able bodied users into wheel chairs so they can get around!

    I have also tried Mint - same results.

    Why do the distro merchants think removing features is an idea with any merits at all?

    And why does Linux /Gnome have millions of settings which are cunningly hidden, or just not accessible from the GUI?

    and why can you view the print queue, but not delete jobs without using the command line?

    Why do you need to use the command line to edit permissions of things in /dev/ to install a printer, and why does the error message you get when the new install fails to work, not mention permissions or /dev?

    I believe these problems may be connected to the fact that some people are actually willing to use Windows! (I am not one of those).

    Maybe it will be FreeBSD for me too.

    Warning: Opening your mouth may invalidate your brain!
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  • (Score: 2) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Monday August 08 2016, @03:28PM

    by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Monday August 08 2016, @03:28PM (#385324)

    The most common source of problems is user error.

    I speculate that they feel that by removing settings/options few people use, they remove opportunities for error.

    Of course, that theory relies on a level of attention to detail not present in the software industry.