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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.

[Continues...]

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 NCommander on Monday August 08 2016, @03:56PM

    by NCommander (2) Subscriber Badge <mcasadevall@soylentnews.org> on Monday August 08 2016, @03:56PM (#385336) Homepage Journal

    I'm leaning far more towards FreeBSD. OpenBSD doesn't have a MAC framework. I've also found of the two, OpenBSD tends to be more difficult to get to run under hosted virtualization (aka Linode), and while its network tools (3 pf) are great, everything else falls kinda flat. Great respect for Theo, but OBSD simply lacks what we need.

    We run Apache under AppArmor to prevent unexpected stupidity dating back to when we ran Apache 1.3 due to slashcode being tied to that release before I took a nuclear blowtorch to it. If you could somehow manage to get a remote shell due to a flaw in rehash, you'd be limited to a very small amount of files that Apache+rehash need to access to run, and the inability to run anything else. Not great, but much better than having unrestricted access to the filesystem as the slash user and migates many attempts to elevate to root.

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  • (Score: 2) by canopic jug on Monday August 08 2016, @04:05PM

    by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 08 2016, @04:05PM (#385343) Journal

    Ok. Thanks. It will be very interesting to see which way you go in the future.

    The team is doing a fantastic job running the site and the infrastructure. Plus, being able to follow along somewhat with these updates is worth gold and, in my opinion, keeps with the stated nature of the site.

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