Categories
Apache

Running CGI Scripts from any Directory with Apache

Intro
This is a really basic issue, but the documentation out there often doesn’t speak directly to this single issue – other things get thrown into the mix. This document is to show how to enable the running of CGI scripts from any directory under htdocs with the Apache2 web server.

The Details
Let’s get into it. CGI – common gateway interface – is a great environment for simple web server programs. But if you’ve got a fairly generic apache2 configuration file and are trying CGI you might encounter a few different errors before getting it right. Here’s the contents of my test.cgi file:

#!/bin/sh
echo "Content-type: text/html"
echo "Location: http://drjohnstechtalk.com"
echo ""

Not tuning my dflt.conf apache2 configuration file in any way, I find to my horror that the cgi file contents gets returned as is initially, just as if it were no more special than a random test file:

> curl -i localhost/test/test.cgi

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 14:07:37 GMT
Server: Apache/2
Last-Modified: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 14:05:29 GMT
ETag: "56d8-5c-4b9b640c9dc40"
Content-Length: 92
Content-Type: text/plain
 
#!/bin/sh
echo "Content-type: text/html"
echo "Location: http://drjohnstechtalk.com"
echo ""

That’s no good.

Now I do some research and realize the following line should be added. Here I show it in its context:

<Directory "/usr/local/apache2/htdocs">
# make .cgi and .pl extensions valid CGI types
    AddHandler cgi-script .cgi .pl
    ...

and we get…
> curl -i localhost/test/test.cgi

HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 14:11:55 GMT
Server: Apache/2
Content-Length: 215
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
 
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">
<html><head>
<title>403 Forbidden</title>
</head><body>
<h1>Forbidden</h1>
<p>You don't have permission to access /test/test.cgi
on this server.</p>
</body></html>

Hmmm. Better, perhaps, but definitely not working. What did we miss? Chances are we had something like this in our dflt.conf:

<Directory "/usr/local/apache2/htdocs">
# make .cgi and .pl extensions valid CGI types
    AddHandler cgi-script .cgi .pl
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
    ...

but what we need is this:

<Directory "/usr/local/apache2/htdocs">
# make .cgi and .pl extensions valid CGI types
    AddHandler cgi-script .cgi .pl
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks ExecCGI
    ...

Note the addition of the ExecCGI to the Options statement.

With that tweak to our apache2 configuration we get the desired result after restarting:

> curl -i localhost/test/test.cgi

HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Date: Fri, 24 Feb 2012 14:15:47 GMT
Server: Apache/2
Location: http://drjohnstechtalk.com
Content-Length: 209
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
 
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">
<html><head>
<title>302 Found</title>
</head><body>
<h1>Found</h1>
<p>The document has moved <a href="http://drjohnstechtalk.com">here</a>.</p>
</body></html>

But what if we want our CGI script to be our default page? What I did for that is to add this statement:

DirectoryIndex index.html index.cgi

so now we have:

<Directory "/usr/local/apache2/htdocs">
# make .cgi and .pl extensions valid CGI types
    AddHandler cgi-script .cgi .pl
    Options Indexes FollowSymLinks ExecCGI
    DirectoryIndex index.html index.cgi
    ...

I create an index.cgi and delete the index.html and index.cgi is run from the top-level URL:

> curl -i johnstechtalk.com

HTTP/1.1 302 Found
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2013 14:15:47 GMT
Server: Apache/2
Location: http://drjohnstechtalk.com/blog/
Content-Length: 209
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
 
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">
<html><head>
<title>302 Found</title>
</head><body>
<h1>Found</h1>
<p>The document has moved <a href="http://drjohnstechtalk.com/blog/">here</a>.</p>
</body></html>

Conclusion
We have shown the two most common problems that occur when trying to enable CGI execution with the apache2 web server. We have shown how to fix the configuration.

Categories
Apache Linux Web Site Technologies

Turning Apache into a Redirect Factory

Intro
I’m getting a little more used to Apache. It’s a strange web server with all sorts of bolt-on pieces. The official documentation is horrible so you really need sites like this to explain how to actually do useful things. You needs real, working examples. In this example I’m going to show how to use the mod_rewrite engine of Apache to build a powerful and convenient web server whose sole purpose in life is for all types of redirects. I call it a redirect factory.

Which Redirects Will it Handle
The redirects will be read in from a file with an easy, editable format. So we never have to touch our running web server. We’ll build in support for the types of redirect requests that I have actually encountered. We don’t care what kind of crazy stuff Apache might permit. You’ll pull your hair out trying to understand it all. All redirects I have ever encountered fall into a relatively small handful of use cases. Ordered by most to least common:

  1. host -> new_url
  2. host/uri[Suffix] -> new_fixed_url (this can be a case-sensitive or case-insensitive match to the uri)
  3. host/uri[Suffix] -> new_prefix_uri[Suffix] (also either case-sensitive or not)

So some examples (not the best examples because I don’t manage drj.com or drj.net, but pretend I did):

  1. drj.com/WHATEVER -> http://drjohnstechtalk.com/
  2. www.drj.com -> http://drjohnstechtalk.com/
  3. drj.com/abcPATH/Preserve -> http://drjohnstechtalk.com/abcPATH/Preserve
  4. drj.com/defPATH/Preserve -> http://drjohnstechtalk.com/ghiPATH/Preserve
  5. drj.com/path/with/slash -> http://drjohnstechtalk.com/other/path
  6. drj.com/path/with/prefix -> http://drjohnstechtalk.com/other/path
  7. drj.net/pAtH/whatever -> https://drjohnstechtalk.com/straightpath
  8. drj.net/2pAtH/stuff?hi=there http://drjohnstechtalk.com/2straightpath/stuff?hi=there
  9. my.host -> http://regular-redirect.com/
  10. whatever-host.whatever-domain/whatever-URI -> http://whatever-new-host.whatever-new-domain/whatever-new-URI

All these different cases can be handled with one config file. I’ve named it redirs.txt. It looks like this:

# redirs file
# The default target has to be listed first
defaultTarget   D       http://www.drjohnstechtalk.com/blog/
# hosts with URI-matching grouped together
# available flags: "P" - preserve part after match
#                  "C" - exact case match of URI
 
# Begin host: drj.com:www.drj.com - ":"-separated list of applicable hostnames
/                       http://drjohnstechtalk.com/
/abc    P       http://drjohnstechtalk.com/abc
/def    P       http://drjohnstechtalk.com/ghi
/path/with/slash https://drjohnstechtalk.com/other/path
/path/with/prefix P  https://drjohnstechtalk.com/other/path
# end host drj.com:www.drj.com
 
# this syntax - host/URI - is also OK...
drj.net/ter             http://drjohnstechtalk.com/terminalredirect
drj.net/pAtH    C       http://drjohnstechtalk.com/straightpath
drj.net/2pAtH   CP      http://drjohnstechtalk.com/2straightpath
 
# hosts with only host-name matching
my.host                 http://regular-redirect.com/
www.drj.edu             http://education-redirect.edu/edu-path

The Apache configuration file piece is this:

# I really don't think this does anything other than chase away a scary warning in the error log...
RewriteLock ${APACHE_LOCK_DIR}/rewrite_lock
<VirtualHost *:90>
# Inspired by the dreadful documentation on http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.0/mod/mod_rewrite.html
RewriteEngine on
RewriteMap  redirectMap prg:conf/vhosts/redirect.pl
#RewriteCond ${lowercase:%{HTTP_HOST}} ^(.+)$
RewriteCond ${redirectMap:%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI}} ^(.+)$
# %N are backreferences to RewriteCond matches, and $N are backreferences to RewriteRule matches
RewriteRule ^/.* %1 [R=301,L]
</VirtualHost>

Remember I split up apache configuration into smaller files. So that’s why you don’t see the lines about logging and what port to listen on, etc. And the APACHE_LOCK_DIR is an environment variable I set up elsewhere. This file is called redirect.conf and is in my conf/vhosts directory.

In my main httpd.conf file I extended the logging to prefix the lines in the access log with the host name (since this redirect server handles many host names this is the only way to get an idea of which hosts are popular):

...
    LogFormat "%{Host}i %h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b \"%{Referer}i\" \"%{User-Agent}i\"" combined
...

So a typical log line looks something like the following:

drj.com 201.212.205.11 - - [10/Feb/2012:09:09:07 -0500] "GET /abc HTTP/1.1" 301 238 "http://www.google.com.br/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=drjsearch" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; .NET4.0C; .NET4.0E)"

I had to re-compile apache because originally my version did not have mod_rewrite compiled in. My description of compiling Apache with this module is here.

The directives themselves I figured out based on the lousy documentation at their official site: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.0/mod/mod_rewrite.html. The heavy lifting is done in the Perl script because there you have some freedom (yeah!) and are not constrained to understand all their silly flags. One trick that does not seem documented is that you can send the full URL to your mapping program. Note the %{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} after the “:”.

I tried to keep redirect.pl brief and simple. Considering the many different cases it isn’t too bad. It weighs in at 70 lines. Here it is:

#!/usr/bin/perl
# Copyright work under the Artistic License, http://www.opensource.org/licenses/Artistic-2.0
# input is $HTTP_HOST$REQUEST_URI
$redirs = "redirs.txt";
# here I only want the actual script name
$working_directory = $script_name = $0;
$script_name =~ s/.*\///g;
$working_directory =~ s/\/$script_name$//g;
$finalType = "";
$DEBUG = 0;
$|=1;
while (<STDIN>) {
  chomp;
  ($host,$uri) = /^([^\/]+)\/(.*)/;
  $host = lc $host;
# use generic redirect file
  open(REDIRS,"$working_directory/$redirs") || die "Cannot open redirs file $redirs!!\n";
  $lenmatchmax = -1;
  while(<REDIRS>) {
# look for alternate names section
    if (/#\s*Begin host\s*:\s*(\S+)/i) {
      @hostnames = split /:/,$1;
      $pathsection = 1;
    } elsif (/#\s*End host/i) {
      $pathsection = 0;
    }
    @hostnames = () unless $pathsection;
    next if /^#/ || /^\s*$/; # ignore comments and blank lines
    chomp;
    $type = "";
# take out trailing spaces after the target URL
    s/\s+$//;
    if (/^(\S+)\s+(\S{1,2})\s+(\S+)$/) {
      ($redirsURL,$type,$targetURL) = ($1,$2,$3);
    } else {
       ($redirsURL,$targetURL) = /^(\S+)\s+(\S+)$/;
    }
# set default target if specified. It has to come at beginning of file
    $finalURL = $targetURL if $type =~ /D/;
    $redirsHost = $redirsURI = $redirsURIesc = "";
    ($redirsHost,$redirsURI) = $redirsURL =~ /^([^\/]*)\/?(.*)/;
    $redirsURIesc = $redirsURI;
    $redirsURIesc =~ s/([\/\?\.])/\\$1/g;
    print "redirsHost,redirsURI,redirsURIesc,targetURL,type: $redirsHost,$redirsURI,$redirsURIesc,$targetURL,$type\n" if $DEBUG;
    push @hostnames,$redirsHost unless $pathsection;
    foreach $redirsHost (@hostnames) {
    if ($host eq $redirsHost) {
# assume case-insensitive match by default.  Use type of 'C' to demand exact case match
# also note this matches even if uri and redirsURI are both empty
      if ($uri =~ /^$redirsURIesc/ || ($type !~ /C/ && $uri =~ /^$redirsURIesc/i)) {
# find longest match
        $lenmatch = length($redirsURI);
        if ($lenmatch > $lenmatchmax) {
          $finalURL = $targetURL;
          $finalType = $type;
          $lenmatchmax = $lenmatch;
          if ($type =~ /P/) {
# prefix redirect
            if ($uri =~ /^$redirsURIesc(.+)/ || ($type !~ /C/ && $uri =~ /^$redirsURIesc(.+)/i)) {
              $finalURL .= $1;
             }
          }
        }
      }
    } # end condition over input host matching host from redirs file
    } # end loop over hostnames list
  } # end loop over lines in redirs file
  close(REDIRS);
# non-prefix re-direct. This is bizarre, but you have to end URI with "?" to kill off the query string, unless the target already contains a "?", in which case you must NOT add it! Gotta love Apache...
  $finalURL .= '?' unless $finalType =~ /P/ || $finalURL =~ /\?/;
  print "$finalURL\n";
} # end loop over STDIN

The nice thing here is that there are a couple of ways to test it, which gives you a sort of cross-check capability. Of course I made lots of mistakes in programming it, but I worked through all the cases until they were all right, using rapid testing.

For instance, let’s see what happens for www.drj.com. We run this test from the development server as follows:

> curl -i -H ‘Host: www.drj.com’ ‘localhost:90’

HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Thu, 09 Feb 2012 15:24:25 GMT
Server: Apache/2
Location: http://drjohnstechtalk.com/
Content-Length: 235
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
 
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">
<html><head>
<title>301 Moved Permanently</title>
</head><body>
<h1>Moved Permanently</h1>
<p>The document has moved <a href="http://drjohnstechtalk.com/">here</a>.</p></body></html>

And from the command line I test redirect.pl as follows:

> echo “www.drj.com/”|./redirect.pl

http://drjohnstechtalk.com/?

That terminal “?” is unfortunate, but apparently you need it to kill off any possible query_string.

You want some more? OK. How about matching a host and the initial path in a case-insensitive manner? No problem, we’re up to the challenge:

> curl -i -H ‘Host: DRJ.COM’ ‘localhost:90/PATH/WITH/SLASH/stuff?hi=there’

HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Thu, 09 Feb 2012 15:38:12 GMT
Server: Apache/2
Location: https://drjohnstechtalk.com/other/path
Content-Length: 246
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
 
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">
<html><head>
<title>301 Moved Permanently</title>
</head><body>
<h1>Moved Permanently</h1>
<p>The document has moved <a href="https://drjohnstechtalk.com/other/path">here</a>.</p></body></html>

Refer back to the redirs file and you see this is the desired behaviour.

We could go on with an example for each case, but we’ll conclude with one last one:

> curl -i -H ‘Host: DRJ.NET’ ‘localhost:90/2pAtHstuff?hi=there’

HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Date: Thu, 09 Feb 2012 15:44:37 GMT
Server: Apache/2
Location: http://drjohnstechtalk.com/2straightpathstuff?hi=there
Content-Length: 262
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
 
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">
<html><head>
<title>301 Moved Permanently</title>
</head><body>
<h1>Moved Permanently</h1>
<p>The document has moved <a href="http://drjohnstechtalk.com/2straightpathstuff?hi=there">here</a>.</p>
</body></html>

A case-sensitive, preserve match. Change “pAtH” to “path” and there is no matching line in redirs.txt so you will get the default URL.

Creating exceptions

Eventually I wanted to have an exception – a URI which should be served with a 200 status rather than redirected. How to handle?

# Inspired by the dreadful documentation on http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.0/mod/mod_rewrite.html
        RewriteEngine on
# just this one page should NOT be redirected
        Rewriterule ^/dontredirectThisPage.php - [L]
        RewriteMap  redirectMap prg:redirect.pl
        ... etc ...

The above apache configuration snippet shows that I had to put the page which shouldn’t be redirected at the top of the ruleset and set the target to “-“, which turns off redirection for that match, and make this the last executed Rewrite rule. I think this is better than a negated match (!) which always gets complicated.

Conclusion
A powerful redirect factory was constructed from Apache and Perl. We suffered quite a bit during development because of incomprehensible documentation. But hopefully we’ve saved someone else this travail.

References and related
This post describes how to massage Apache so that it always returns a maintenance page no matter what URI was originally requested.
I have since learned that another term used in the industry for rediect server is persistent URL (PURL). It’s explained in Wikipedia by this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persistent_uniform_resource_locator

Categories
Admin Apache IT Operational Excellence Linux Security Web Site Technologies

Apache Tips in Light of Security Problems

Intro
I am far from an expert in Apache. But I have a good knowledge of general best practices which I apply when running Apache web server. None of my tips are particularly insightful – they all can be found elsewhere, but this will be a single place to help find them all together.

To Compile or Not
As of this writing the current version is 2.2.21. The version supplied with the current version of SLES, SLES 11, is 2.2.10. To find the version run httpd -v

I think that’s fairly typical for them to be so many version behind. I recommend compiling your own version. But pay attention to security advisories and check every quarter to see what the latest release is. You’ll have to keep up with it on your own or you’ll actually be in worse shape than if you used the vendor version and applied patches regularly.

What You’ll Need to Know for the Range DOS Vulnerability
When you get the source you might try a simple ./configure, followed by a make and finally make install. And it would all seem to work. You can fetch the home page with a curl localhost. Then you remember about that recent Range header denial of service vulnerability described here. If you test for whether you support the Range header you’ll see that you do. I like to test for this as follows:

$ curl -H "Range: bytes=1-2" localhost

If before you saw something like

<html><body><h1>It works!</h1>

now it becomes

ht

i.e., it grabbed bytes one and two from <html>…

Now there are options and opinions about what to do about this. I think turning off Range header support is the best option. But if you try that you will fail. Why? Because you did not compile in the mod_headers module. To turn off Range headers add these lines to the global part of your configuration:

RequestHeader unset Range
RequestHeader unset Request-Range

To see what modules you have available in your apache binary you do

/usr/local/apache2/bin/httpd -l

which should look like the following if you have taken all the defaults:

Compiled in modules:
  core.c
  mod_authn_file.c
  mod_authn_default.c
  mod_authz_host.c
  mod_authz_groupfile.c
  mod_authz_user.c
  mod_authz_default.c
  mod_auth_basic.c
  mod_include.c
  mod_filter.c
  mod_log_config.c
  mod_env.c
  mod_setenvif.c
  mod_version.c
  prefork.c
  http_core.c
  mod_mime.c
  mod_status.c
  mod_autoindex.c
  mod_asis.c
  mod_cgi.c
  mod_negotiation.c
  mod_dir.c
  mod_actions.c
  mod_userdir.c
  mod_alias.c
  mod_so.c

Notice there is no mod_headers.c which means there is no mod_headers module. And in fact when you restart your apache web server you are likely to see this error:

Syntax error on line 360 of /usr/local/apache2/conf/httpd.conf:
Invalid command 'RequestHeader', perhaps misspelled or defined by a module not included in the server configuration

So you need to compile in mod_headers. Begin by cleaning your slate by running make clean in your source directory; then run configure as follows:

./configure –enable-headers –enable-rewrite

I’ve thrown in the –enable-rewrite qualifier because I like to be able to use mod_rewrite. It is not actually used for the security problems being discussed in this article.

Side note for those using the system-provided apache2 package on SLES
As an alternative to compiling yourself, you may be using an apache package. I have only tested this for SLES (so it would probably be the same for openSUSE). There you can edit the /etc/sysconfig/apache2 file and add additional modules to load. In particular the line

APACHE_MODULES="actions alias auth_basic authn_file authz_host authz_groupfile authz_default authz_user authn_dbm autoindex
 cgi dir env expires include log_config mime negotiation setenvif ssl suexec userdir php5 reqtimeout"

can be changed to

APACHE_MODULES="actions alias auth_basic authn_file authz_host authz_groupfile authz_default authz_user authn_dbm autoindex
 cgi dir env expires include log_config mime negotiation setenvif ssl suexec userdir php5 reqtimeout headers"

Back to compiling. Note that ./configure -help gives you some idea of all the options available, but it doesn’t exactly link the options to the precise module names, though it gives you a good idea via the description.

Then run make followed by make install as before. You should be good to go!

A Built-in Contradiction
You may have successfully suppressed use of range-headers, but on my web server, I noticed a contradictory HTTP Response header was still being issued after all that:

Accept-Ranges:

I use a simple

curl -i localhost

to look at the HTTP Response headers. The contradiction is that your server is not accepting ranges while it’s sending out the message that it is!

So turn that off to be consistent. This is what I did.

# need the following line to not send Accept-Ranges header
Header unset Accept-Ranges
#

Don’t Give Away the Keys
Don’t reveal too much about your server version such as OS and patch level of your web server. I suppose it is OK to reveal your web server type and its major version. Here is what I did:

# don't reveal too much about the server version - just web server and major version
# see http://www.ducea.com/2006/06/15/apache-tips-tricks-hide-apache-software-version/
ServerTokens Major

After all these changes curl -i localhost output looks as follows:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Fri, 04 Nov 2011 20:39:02 GMT
Server: Apache/2
Last-Modified: Fri, 14 Oct 2011 15:37:41 GMT
ETag: "12005-a-4af4409a09b40"
Content-Length: 10
Content-Type: text/html

See? I’ve gotten rid of the Accept-Ranges and provide only sketchy information about the server.

I put these security-related measures into a single file I include from the global configuration file httpd.conf into a file I call security.conf. To put it all toegther, at this point my security.conf looks like this:

# 11/2011
# prevent DOS attack.  
# See http://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/httpd-announce/201108.mbox/%3C20110824161640.122D387DD@minotaur.apache.org%3E - JH 8/31/11
# a good explanation of how to test it: 
# http://devcentral.f5.com/weblogs/macvittie/archive/2011/08/26/f5-friday-zero-day-apache-exploit-zero-problem.aspx
# looks like we do have this vulnerability, 
# trying curl -i -H 'Range:bytes=1-5' http://bsm2.com/index.html
# note that I had to compile with ./configure --enable-headers to be able to use these directives
RequestHeader unset Range
RequestHeader unset Request-Range
#
# need the following line to not send Accept-Ranges header
Header unset Accept-Ranges
#
# don't reveal too much about the server version - just web server and major version
# see http://www.ducea.com/2006/06/15/apache-tips-tricks-hide-apache-software-version/
ServerTokens Major

SSL (added December, 2014)
Search engines are encouraging web site operators to switch to using SSL for the obvious added security. If you’re going to use SSL you’ll also need to do that responsibly or you could get a false sense of security. I document it in my post on working with cipher settings.

Disable folder browsing/directory listing
I recently got caught out on this rookie mistake: Web Directories listing vulnerability. The solution is simple. In side your main HTDOCS section of configuration you may have a line that looks like:

Options Indexes FollowSymLinks ExecCGI

Get rid of that Indexes – that’s what permits folder browsing, So this is better:

Options FollowSymLinks ExecCGI

Turn off php version listing, December 2016 update
Oops. I read about how the 47% of the top million web sites have security issues. One bases for the judgment is to see what version of PHP is running based on the headers. So i checked my https server, and, oops:

$ curl ‐s ‐i ‐k https://drjohnstechtalk.com/blog/|head ‐22

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2016 20:00:09 GMT
Server: Apache/2
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=15811200; includeSubDomains; preload
Vary: Cookie,Accept-Encoding
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.4.43
X-Pingback: https://drjohnstechtalk.com/blog/xmlrpc.php
Last-Modified: Fri, 16 Dec 2016 20:00:10 GMT
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
 
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en-US">
<head>
...

So there is was, hanging out for all to see, PHP version 5.4.43. I’d rather not publicly admit that. So I turned it off by adding the following to my php.ini file and re-starting apache:

expose_php = off

After this my HTTP response headers show only this:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2016 20:00:55 GMT
Server: Apache/2
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=15811200; includeSubDomains; preload
Vary: Cookie,Accept-Encoding
X-Pingback: https://drjohnstechtalk.com/blog/xmlrpc.php
Last-Modified: Fri, 16 Dec 2016 20:00:57 GMT
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8

I must have overlooked this when I compiled my own apache v 2.4 and used it to run my principal web server over https.

June 2017 update
PCI compliance will ding you for lack of an X-Frame-Options header. So for a simple web site like mine I can always safely send one out by adding this to my apache.conf file (or whichever apache conf file you deem most appropriate. I have a special security file in conf.d where I actually put it):

# don't permit framing from other sources, DrJ 6/16/17
# https://www.simonholywell.com/post/2013/04/three-things-i-set-on-new-servers/
Header always append X-Frame-Options SAMEORIGIN

PCI compliance will also ding you if TRACE method is enabled. In that security file of my configuration I disable it thusly:

TraceEnable Off

Test both those things in one fell swoop
$ curl ‐X TRACE ‐i ‐k https://drjohnstechtalk.com/

HTTP/1.1 405 Method Not Allowed
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 2017 18:20:24 GMT
Server: Apache/2
X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=15811200; includeSubDomains; preload
Allow:
Content-Length: 295
Content-Type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
 
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//IETF//DTD HTML 2.0//EN">
<html><head>
<title>405 Method Not Allowed</title>
</head><body>
<h1>Method Not Allowed</h1>
<p>The requested method TRACE is not allowed for the URL /.</p>
<hr>
<address>Apache/2 Server at drjohnstechtalk.com Port 443</address>
</body></html>

See? X-Frame-Options header now comes out with desired value. TRACE method was disallowed. All good.

Conclusion
Make sure you are taking some precautions against known security problems in Apache2. For information on running multiple web server instances under SLES see my next post Running Multiple Web Server Instances under SLES.

References and related
Remember, for handling the apache SSL hardening go here.
Compiling apache 2.4
drjohnstechtalk is now an HTTPS site!
TRACE method sounds useful for debugging, but I guess there are exploits so it needs to be disabled. Wikipedia documents it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext_Transfer_Protocol#Request_methods. Don’t forget that curl -v also shows you your request headers!

Categories
Admin Apache IT Operational Excellence Security

The Basics of How to Work with Cipher Settings

Trying to upgrade WordPress brings a thicket of problemsDecember, 2014 Update With some tips for making your server POODLE-proof, and 2016 update to deal with OpenSSL Padding Oracle Vulnerability CVE-2016-2107

Intro
We got audited. There’s always something they catch, right? But I actually appreciate the thoroughness of this audit, and I used its findings to learn a little about one of those mystery areas that never seemed to matter until now: ciphers. Now it matters because cipher weakness was the finding!

I had an older piece of Nortel gear which was running SSL. The auditors found that it allows anonymous authentication ciphers. Have you ever heard of such a thing? I hadn’t either! I am far from an expert in this area, but I will attempt an explanation of the implication of this weakness which, by the way, was scored as a “high severity” – the highest on their scale in fact!

Why Anonymous Authentication is a Severe Matter
The briefly stated reason in the finding is that it allows for a Man In the Middle (MITM) attack. I’ve given it some thought and I haven’t figured out what the core issue is. The correct behaviour is for a client to authenticate a server in an SSL session, usually using RSA. If no authentication occurs, a MITM SSL server could be inserted in between client and server, or so they say.

Reproducing the Problem
OK, so we don’t understand the issue, but we do know enough to reproduce their results. That is helpful so we’ll know when we’ve resolved it without going back to the auditors. Our tool of choice is openssl. In theory, you can list the available ciphers in openssl thus:

openssl ciphers -v

And you’ll probably end up with an output looking like this, without the header which I’ve added for convenience:

Cipher Name|SSL Protocol|Key exchange algorithm|Authentication|Encryption algorithm|MAC digest algorithm
DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA      SSLv3 Kx=DH       Au=RSA  Enc=AES(256)  Mac=SHA1
DHE-DSS-AES256-SHA      SSLv3 Kx=DH       Au=DSS  Enc=AES(256)  Mac=SHA1
AES256-SHA              SSLv3 Kx=RSA      Au=RSA  Enc=AES(256)  Mac=SHA1
KRB5-DES-CBC3-MD5       SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=3DES(168) Mac=MD5
KRB5-DES-CBC3-SHA       SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=3DES(168) Mac=SHA1
EDH-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA    SSLv3 Kx=DH       Au=RSA  Enc=3DES(168) Mac=SHA1
EDH-DSS-DES-CBC3-SHA    SSLv3 Kx=DH       Au=DSS  Enc=3DES(168) Mac=SHA1
DES-CBC3-SHA            SSLv3 Kx=RSA      Au=RSA  Enc=3DES(168) Mac=SHA1
DES-CBC3-MD5            SSLv2 Kx=RSA      Au=RSA  Enc=3DES(168) Mac=MD5
DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA      SSLv3 Kx=DH       Au=RSA  Enc=AES(128)  Mac=SHA1
DHE-DSS-AES128-SHA      SSLv3 Kx=DH       Au=DSS  Enc=AES(128)  Mac=SHA1
AES128-SHA              SSLv3 Kx=RSA      Au=RSA  Enc=AES(128)  Mac=SHA1
RC2-CBC-MD5             SSLv2 Kx=RSA      Au=RSA  Enc=RC2(128)  Mac=MD5
KRB5-RC4-MD5            SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=RC4(128)  Mac=MD5
KRB5-RC4-SHA            SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=RC4(128)  Mac=SHA1
RC4-SHA                 SSLv3 Kx=RSA      Au=RSA  Enc=RC4(128)  Mac=SHA1
RC4-MD5                 SSLv3 Kx=RSA      Au=RSA  Enc=RC4(128)  Mac=MD5
RC4-MD5                 SSLv2 Kx=RSA      Au=RSA  Enc=RC4(128)  Mac=MD5
KRB5-DES-CBC-MD5        SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=DES(56)   Mac=MD5
KRB5-DES-CBC-SHA        SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=DES(56)   Mac=SHA1
EDH-RSA-DES-CBC-SHA     SSLv3 Kx=DH       Au=RSA  Enc=DES(56)   Mac=SHA1
EDH-DSS-DES-CBC-SHA     SSLv3 Kx=DH       Au=DSS  Enc=DES(56)   Mac=SHA1
DES-CBC-SHA             SSLv3 Kx=RSA      Au=RSA  Enc=DES(56)   Mac=SHA1
DES-CBC-MD5             SSLv2 Kx=RSA      Au=RSA  Enc=DES(56)   Mac=MD5
EXP-KRB5-RC2-CBC-MD5    SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=RC2(40)   Mac=MD5  export
EXP-KRB5-DES-CBC-MD5    SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=DES(40)   Mac=MD5  export
EXP-KRB5-RC2-CBC-SHA    SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=RC2(40)   Mac=SHA1 export
EXP-KRB5-DES-CBC-SHA    SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=DES(40)   Mac=SHA1 export
EXP-EDH-RSA-DES-CBC-SHA SSLv3 Kx=DH(512)  Au=RSA  Enc=DES(40)   Mac=SHA1 export
EXP-EDH-DSS-DES-CBC-SHA SSLv3 Kx=DH(512)  Au=DSS  Enc=DES(40)   Mac=SHA1 export
EXP-DES-CBC-SHA         SSLv3 Kx=RSA(512) Au=RSA  Enc=DES(40)   Mac=SHA1 export
EXP-RC2-CBC-MD5         SSLv3 Kx=RSA(512) Au=RSA  Enc=RC2(40)   Mac=MD5  export
EXP-RC2-CBC-MD5         SSLv2 Kx=RSA(512) Au=RSA  Enc=RC2(40)   Mac=MD5  export
EXP-KRB5-RC4-MD5        SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=RC4(40)   Mac=MD5  export
EXP-KRB5-RC4-SHA        SSLv3 Kx=KRB5     Au=KRB5 Enc=RC4(40)   Mac=SHA1 export
EXP-RC4-MD5             SSLv3 Kx=RSA(512) Au=RSA  Enc=RC4(40)   Mac=MD5  export
EXP-RC4-MD5             SSLv2 Kx=RSA(512) Au=RSA  Enc=RC4(40)   Mac=MD5  export

I’m not going to explain all those headers because, umm, I don’t know myself. Perhaps in a later or updated posting. The point I want to make here is that as complete as this listing appears, it’s really incomplete. openssl actually supports additional ciphers as well, as I learned by combining information from the audit, plus Nortel’s documentation. In particular Nortel mentions additional ciphers such as these:

ADH-AES256-SHA SSLv3 DH, NONE AES (256) SHA1
ADH-DES-CBC3-SHA SSLv3 DH, NONE 3DES (168) SHA1

I singled these out because the “NONE” means anonymous authentication – the subject of the audit finding! Note that these ciphers were not present in the openssl listing. So now I know Nortel potentially supports anonymous (also called NULL) authentication. There remains the question of whether my specific implementation supports it. Of course the audit says it does, but I want to have sufficient expertise to verify for myself. So, try this:

openssl s_client -cipher ADH-DES-CBC3-SHA -connect IP_of_Nortel_server:443

I get:

---
no peer certificate available
---
No client certificate CA names sent
---
SSL handshake has read 411 bytes and written 239 bytes
---
New, TLSv1/SSLv3, Cipher is ADH-DES-CBC3-SHA
Secure Renegotiation IS NOT supported
Compression: NONE
Expansion: NONE
SSL-Session:
    Protocol  : TLSv1
    Cipher    : ADH-DES-CBC3-SHA
    Session-ID: 30F1375839B8CFB508CDEFC9FBE4A5BF2D5CE240038DFF8CC514607789CCEDD5
    Session-ID-ctx:
    Master-Key: B2374E609874D1015DC55BEAA0289310445BAFF65956908A497E5C51DF1301D68CC47AB395DDFEB9A1C77B637A4D306F
    Key-Arg   : None
    Krb5 Principal: None
    Start Time: 1317132292
    Timeout   : 300 (sec)
    Verify return code: 0 (ok)
---

You see that it listed the Cipher as the one I requested, ADH-DES-CBC3-SHA. Further note that no certificate names are sent. Normally they are. To see if my method is correct, let’s try one of Google’s secure servers. Certainly Google will not permit NULL authentication if it’s a bad practice:

openssl s_client -cipher aNULL -connect 74.125.67.84:443

produces this output:

21390:error:14077410:SSL routines:SSL23_GET_SERVER_HELLO:sslv3 alert handshake failure:s23_clnt.c:583:

Google does not permit this cipher! As a control, let’s use openssl without specifying a specific cipher against both servers. First, the Nortel server:

openssl s_client -connect IP_of_Nortel_server:443

produces some long output, which spits out the sever certificates, followed by this:

New, TLSv1/SSLv3, Cipher is DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA
Server public key is 2048 bit
Secure Renegotiation IS NOT supported
Compression: NONE
Expansion: NONE
SSL-Session:
    Protocol  : TLSv1
    Cipher    : DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA
    Session-ID: 6D1A4383F3DBF4C14007220715ECCFB83D91C524624ACE641843880291200AE2
    Session-ID-ctx:
    Master-Key: BE3FB61B169F497A922A9A172D36A4BB15C26074021D7F22D125875980070E157EDA3100572F927B427B03BF81543E1A
    Key-Arg   : None
    Krb5 Principal: None
    Start Time: 1317132982
    Timeout   : 300 (sec)
    Verify return code: 0 (ok)

So you see client and server agreed to use the cipher DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA, which from our table uses RSA authentication. And hitting Google again without the ciphers argument we get this:

New, TLSv1/SSLv3, Cipher is RC4-SHA
Server public key is 1024 bit
Secure Renegotiation IS supported
Compression: NONE
Expansion: NONE
SSL-Session:
    Protocol  : TLSv1
    Cipher    : RC4-SHA
    Session-ID: 236FDF47DA752E768E7EE32DA10103F1CAD513E9634F075BE8773090A2E7A995
    Session-ID-ctx:
    Master-Key: 39212DE0E3A98943C441287227CB1425AE11CCA277EFF6F8AF83DA267AB256B5A8D94A6573DFD54FB1C9BF82EA302494
    Key-Arg   : None
    Krb5 Principal: None
    Start Time: 1317133483
    Timeout   : 300 (sec)
    Verify return code: 0 (ok)
---

So in this case it is successful, though it has chosen a different cipher from Nortel, namely RC4-SHA. But we can look it up and see that it’s a cipher which uses RSA authentication. Cool.

So we’ve “proven” all our assertions thus far. Now how do we fix Nortel? The Nortel GUI lists the ciphers as

ALL@STRENGTH

Pardon me? It turns out there are cipher groupings denoted by aliases, and you can combine the aliases into a cipher list.

ALL – means all cipher suites
EXPORT – includes cipher suites using 40 or 56 bit encryption
aNULL – cipher suites that do not offer authentication
eNULL – cipher suites that have no encryption whatsoever (disabled by default in Nortel)
STRENGTH – is at the end of the list and sorts the list in order of encryption algorithm key length

List operators are:
! – permanently deletes the cipher from the list.
+ – moves the cipher to the end of the list
: – separator of cipher strings

aNULL is a subset of ALL, and that’s what’s killing us. Putting all this together, the cipher I tried in place of ALL@STRENGTH is:

ALL:!EXPORT:!aNULL@STRENGTH

In this way I prevent NULL authentication and remove the weaker export ciphers. As soon as I applied this cipher list, I tested it. Yup – works. I can no longer hit it by using anonymous authentication:

openssl s_client  -cipher aNULL -connect IP_of_Nortel_server:443

produces

2465:error:14077410:SSL routines:SSL23_GET_SERVER_HELLO:sslv3 alert handshake failure:s23_clnt.c:583:

and using cipher eNULL produces the same error. To make sure I’m sending a cipher which openssl understands, I tried a nonsense cipher as a control – one that I know does not exist:

openssl s_client  -cipher eddNULL -connect IP_of_Nortel_server:443

That gives a different error:

error setting cipher list
2482:error:1410D0B9:SSL routines:SSL_CTX_set_cipher_list:no cipher match:ssl_lib.c:1188:

providing assurance that aNULL and eNULL are cipher families understood and supported by openssl, and that I have done the hardening correctly!

Now you can probably count the number of people still using Nortel gear with your two hands! But this discussion, obviously, has wider applicability. In Apache/mod_ssl there is an SSLCipherSuite line where you specify a cipher list. The auditor’s recommendation is more detailed than what I tried. They suggest the list ALL:!aNULL:!ADH:!eNULL:!LOW:!EXP:RC4+RSA:+HIGH:+MEDIUM

October 2014 Update
Well, now we’ve encountered the SSLv3 vulnerability POODLE, which compels us to forcibly eliminate use of SSLv3 on all servers and clients. Let’s say we updated our clients to require use of TLS. How do we gain confidence the update worked? Set one of our servers to not use TLS! Here’s how I did that on a BigIP server:

DEFAULT:!TLSv1:@STRENGTH

I ran a quick test using openssl s_client -connect server:443 as above, and got what I was looking for:

...
SSL handshake has read 3038 bytes and written 479 bytes
---
New, TLSv1/SSLv3, Cipher is AES256-SHA
Server public key is 2048 bit
Secure Renegotiation IS supported
Compression: NONE
Expansion: NONE
SSL-Session:
    Protocol  : SSLv3
    Cipher    : AES256-SHA
...

Note the protocol says SSLv3 and not TLS.

Turning off SSLv3 to deal with POODLE

So that is normally exactly the opposite of what you want to do to turn off SSLv3 – that was just to run a control test. Here’s what to do to turn off SSLv3 on a BigIP:

DEFAULT:!RC4:!SSLv3:@STRENGTH

OK, yes, RC4 is a discredited cipher so disable that as well. Most clients (but not all) will be able to work with a server which is set like this.


Apache and POODLE prevention
Well, I went to the Qualys site and found I was not exactly eating my own dogfood! My own server was considered vulnerable to POODLE, supported weak protocols, etc and only scored a “C.” DrJohnsScoredbyQualys Determined to incorporate more modern approaches to my apache server settings and stealing from others, I improved things dramatically by throwing these additional configuration lines into my apache configuration:

(the following apache configuration lines are deprecated – see further down below)

...
# lock things down to get a better score from Qualys - DrJ 12/17/14
# 4 possible values: All, SSLv2, SSLv3, TLSv1. Allow TLS only:
        SSLProtocol all -SSLv2 -SSLv3
        SSLCipherSuite ALL:!aNULL:!eNULL:!SSLv2:!LOW:!EXP:!RC4:!MD5:@STRENGTH
...


The results after strengthening apache configuration

I now get an “A-” and am not supporting any weak ciphers! Yeah! DrJohnsScoredbyQualys-afterSimpleTweaks It’s because those configuration lines mean that I explicitly don’t permit SSLv2/v3 or the weak RC4 cipher. I need to study to determine if I should support TLSv1.2 and forward secrecy to go to the best possible score – an “A.” (Months later) Well now I do get an A and I’m not exactly sure why the improved score.

BREACH prevention
After all the above measures the Digicert certificate inspector I am evaluating says my drjohnstechtalk site is vulnerable to the Breach attack. From my reading the only practical solution, at least for my case, is to upgrade from apache 2.2 to apache 2.4. Hence the Herculean efforts to compile apache 2.4 as detailed in this blog post. My preliminary finding is that without changing the SSL configuration at all apache 2.4 does not show a vulnerability to BREACH. But upon digging further, it has to do with the absence of the use of compression in apache 2.4 and I’m not yet sure why it isn’t being used!

2016 Update for CVE-2016-2107
I was going to check to see if my current score at SSLLabs is an A-, and what I can do to boost it to an A. Well, I got an F! I guess the lesson here is to conduct periodic tests. Things change!
qualys-drj-2016-11-10

I saw from descriptions elsewhere that my version of openssl, openssl-1.0.1e-30.el6.11, was likely out-of-date. So I looked at my version of openssl on my CentOS server:

$ sudo rpm ‐qa|grep openssl

and updated it:

$ sudo yum update openssl‐1.0.1e‐30.el6.11

Now (11/11/16) my version is openssl-1.0.1e-48.el6_8.3.

Would this upgrade suffice without any further action?

Some background. I had compiled – with some difficulty – my own version of apache version 2.4: https://drjohnstechtalk.com/blog/2015/07/compiling-apache24-on-centos/.

I was pretty sure that my apache dynamically links to the openssl libraries by virtue of the lack of their appearance as listed compiled-in modules:

$ /usr/local/apache24/bin/httpd ‐l

Compiled in modules:
  core.c
  mod_so.c
  http_core.c
  prefork.c

Simply installing these new openssl libraries did not do the trick immediately. So the next step was to restart apache. Believe it or not, that did it!

Going back to the full ssllabs test, I currently get a solid A. Yeah!
qualys-drj-2016-11-11

In the spirit of let’s learn something here beyond what the immediate problem requires, I learned then that indeed the openssl libraries were dynamically linked to my apache version. Moreover, I learned that dynamic linking, despite the name, still has a static aspect. The shared object library must be read in at process creation time and perhaps only occasionally re-read afterwards. But it is not read with every single invocation, which I suppose makes sense form a performance point-of-view.

2016 apache 2.4 SSL config section
For the record…

...
        SSLProtocol all -SSLv2 -SSLv3
        # it used to be this simple
        #SSLCipherSuite ALL:!aNULL:!eNULL:!SSLv2:!LOW:!EXP:!RC4:!MD5:@STRENGTH
# Now it isn't - DrJ 6/2/15. Based on SSL Labs https://weakdh.org/sysadmin.html - DrJ 6/2/15
        SSLCipherSuite          ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:DHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:DHE-DSS-AES128-GCM-SHA256:kEDH+AESGCM:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-SHA:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:DHE-DSS-AES128-SHA256:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA256:DHE-DSS-AES256-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:AES128-GCM-SHA256:AES256-GCM-SHA384:AES128-SHA256:AES256-SHA256:AES128-SHA:AES256-SHA:AES:CAMELLIA:DES-CBC3-SHA:!aNULL:!eNULL:!EXPORT:!DES:!RC4:!MD5:!PSK:!aECDH:!EDH-DSS-DES-CBC3-SHA:!EDH-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA:!KRB5-DES-CBC3-SHA
        SSLHonorCipherOrder     on
...

How to see what ciphers your browser supports
Your best bet is the SSLLABS.com web site. Go to Test my Browser.

University of Hannover offers this site. Just go this page. But lately I noticed that it does not list ciphers using CBC whereas the SSLlabs site does. So SSLlabs provides a more accurate answer.

2017 update for PCI compliance
Of course this article is ancient and I hesitate to further complicate it, but I also don’t want to tear it down. Anyway, for PCI compliance you’ll soon need to drop 3DES ciphers (3DES is pronounced “triple-DES” if you ever need to read it aloud). I have this implemented on F5 BigIP devices. I have set the ciphers to:

DEFAULT:!DHE:!3DES:+RSA

and this did the trick. Here’s how to see what effect that has from the BigIP command line:

$ tmm ‐‐clientciphers ‘DEFAULT:!DHE:!3DES:+RSA’

       ID  SUITE                            BITS PROT    METHOD  CIPHER  MAC     KEYX
 0: 49200  ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384      256  TLS1.2  Native  AES-GCM  SHA384  ECDHE_RSA
 1: 49199  ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256      128  TLS1.2  Native  AES-GCM  SHA256  ECDHE_RSA
 2: 49192  ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA384          256  TLS1.2  Native  AES     SHA384  ECDHE_RSA
 3: 49172  ECDHE-RSA-AES256-CBC-SHA         256  TLS1    Native  AES     SHA     ECDHE_RSA
 4: 49172  ECDHE-RSA-AES256-CBC-SHA         256  TLS1.1  Native  AES     SHA     ECDHE_RSA
 5: 49172  ECDHE-RSA-AES256-CBC-SHA         256  TLS1.2  Native  AES     SHA     ECDHE_RSA
 6: 49191  ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256          128  TLS1.2  Native  AES     SHA256  ECDHE_RSA
 7: 49171  ECDHE-RSA-AES128-CBC-SHA         128  TLS1    Native  AES     SHA     ECDHE_RSA
 8: 49171  ECDHE-RSA-AES128-CBC-SHA         128  TLS1.1  Native  AES     SHA     ECDHE_RSA
 9: 49171  ECDHE-RSA-AES128-CBC-SHA         128  TLS1.2  Native  AES     SHA     ECDHE_RSA
10:   157  AES256-GCM-SHA384                256  TLS1.2  Native  AES-GCM  SHA384  RSA
11:   156  AES128-GCM-SHA256                128  TLS1.2  Native  AES-GCM  SHA256  RSA
12:    61  AES256-SHA256                    256  TLS1.2  Native  AES     SHA256  RSA
13:    53  AES256-SHA                       256  TLS1    Native  AES     SHA     RSA
14:    53  AES256-SHA                       256  TLS1.1  Native  AES     SHA     RSA
15:    53  AES256-SHA                       256  TLS1.2  Native  AES     SHA     RSA
16:    53  AES256-SHA                       256  DTLS1   Native  AES     SHA     RSA
17:    60  AES128-SHA256                    128  TLS1.2  Native  AES     SHA256  RSA
18:    47  AES128-SHA                       128  TLS1    Native  AES     SHA     RSA
19:    47  AES128-SHA                       128  TLS1.1  Native  AES     SHA     RSA
20:    47  AES128-SHA                       128  TLS1.2  Native  AES     SHA     RSA
21:    47  AES128-SHA                       128  DTLS1   Native  AES     SHA     RSA

2018 update and comment about PCI compliance
I tried to give the owners of e1st.smapply.org a hard time for supporting such a limited set of ciphersuites – essentially only the latest thing (which you can see yourself by running it through sslabs.com): TLS_ECDHE_RSA_WITH_AES_256_GCM_SHA384. If I run this through SSL interception on a Symantec proxy with an older image, 6.5.10.4 from June, 2017, that ciphersuite isn’t present! I had to upgrade to 6.5.10.7 from October 2017, then it was fine. But getting back to the rationale, they told me they have future-proofed their site for the new requirements of PCI and they would not budge and support other ciphersuites (forcing me to upgrade).

Another site in that same situation is https://shop-us.bestunion.com/. I don’t know if it’s a misconception on the part of the site administrators or if they’re onto something. I’ll know more when I update my own PCI site to meet the latest requirements.

2020 Update

In this year they are trying to phase out TLS v 1.0 and v 1.1 in favor of TLS v 1.2 or v 1.3. Now my web site’s grade is capped at a B because it still supports those older protocols.

Additional resources and references
As you see from the above openssl is a very useful tool, and there’s lots more you can do with it. Some of my favorite openssl commands are documented in this blog post.

A great site for testing the strength of any web site’s SSL setup, vulnerability to POODLE, etc is this Qualys SSL Labs testing site. No obnoxious ads either. A much more basic one is https://www.websiteplanet.com/webtools/ssl-checker/ SSLlabs is much more complete, but it only works on web sites running on the default port 443. websiteplanet is more about whether your certificate is installed properly and such.

Need to know what ciphers your browser supports? Qualys SSL Labs again to the rescue: https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/viewMyClient.html shows you all your browser’s supported ciphers. However, the results may not be reliable if you are using a proxy.

An excellent article explaining in technical terms what the problem with SSLv3 actually is is posted by, who else, Paul Ducklin the Sophos NakedSecurity blogger.

This RFC discusses why TLS v 1.2 or higher is preferred over TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7525

The Digicert certificate inspector includes a vulnerability assessment as well. It seems useful.

Want a readily understandable explanation of what CBC (Cipher Block Chaining) means? It isn’t too hard to understand. This is an excellent article from Sophos’ Paul Ducklin. It also explains the Sweet32 attack.

An equally greatly detailed explanation of the openssl padding oracle vulnerability is here. https://blog.cloudflare.com/yet-another-padding-oracle-in-openssl-cbc-ciphersuites/

A fast dedicated test for CVE-2016-2107, the oracle padding vulnerability: https://filippo.io/CVE-2016-2107/. SSLlabs test is more thorough – it checks for everything – but much slower.

Compiling apache version 2.4 is described here: https://drjohnstechtalk.com/blog/2015/07/compiling-apache24-on-centos/ and more recently, here: https://drjohnstechtalk.com/blog/2020/04/trying-to-upgrade-wordpress-brings-a-thicket-of-problems/

If you want to see how your browser deals with different certificate issues (expired, bad chained CERT) as well different ciphers, this has a test case for all of that. This is very useful for testing SSL Interception product behavior. https://badssl.com/

Aimed at F5 admins, but a really good review for anyone about sipher suites, SSL vs TLS and all that is this F5 document. I recommend it for anyone getting started.

This site will never run SSL! This can be useful when you are trying to login to a hotel’s guest WiFi, which may not be capable of intercepting SSL traffic to force you to heir sign-on page: http://neverssl.com/.

Want to test if a web site requires client certificates, e.g., for authentication? This post has some suggestions.

Conclusion
We now have some idea of what those kooky cipher strings actually mean and our eyes don’t gloss over when we encounter them! Plus, we have made our Nortel gear more secure by deploying a cipher string which disallows anonymous authentication.

It seems SSL exploits have been discovered at reliable pace since this article was first published. It’s best to check your servers running SSL at least twice a year or better every quarter using the SSLlabs tool.

Categories
Apache Web Site Technologies

WordPress, Apache2, Permalinks and mod_rewrite under Ubuntu

Installing WordPress is pretty straightforward and needs no further clarification here.  But getting Permalinks to work – well that is a different story.  That is not well documented. Permalinks are those nice-looking URLs you can optionally create for your blog postings in WordPress.  I myself like this style: WPROOT/YYYY/MM/nice-title/.

When you try to activate that you’ll see it wants to put a .htaccess file in your blog top-level directory, which you may not have permission to write to from your admin account.  I do not because I feel that is a more secure way to run the server – as a user who cannot write to the HTML directories.  Fortunately, it generates the desired contents of the .htaccess file, which is characteristically inscrutable like most things in Apache server (I’m not a big fan of Apache).  So it will look something like this (bear in mind my WordPress blog was put in the /blog directory).

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /blog/
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /blog/index.php [L]
</IfModule>

The main point is that it relies on the mod_rewrite module in apache2, which probably won’t work for you under a straight-up Ubuntu LAMP installation for two reasons.  And if you dig around you’ll quickly latch onto one or the other reason, but not both.

You need to activate mod_rewrite.

You need to enable mod_rewrite in your conf file.

To activate mod_rewrite run

sudo a2enmod rewrite

(of course I’m assuming you have root access).  This stands for, more-or-less, Apache2 enable module rewrite.  Note what it does, it creates symlinks from the /etc/apache2/mods-enabled directory for each module which has been enabled.  By default, mod_rewrite is NOT enabled in Ubuntu server 10.10, for some reason.

In your Apache configuration file (yours may be /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/000-default or another file in that directory) you’ll probably have this statement in your Directory section that pertains to your WordPress document root:

AllowOverride none

You will need to change it to

AllowOverride All

For instance, for me with my WordPress blog root at /var/www/blog, my Apache configuration file now looks like this:

<VirtualHost *:80>
...
        <Directory /var/www/blog>
                AllowOverride All
        </Directory>
...

Restart Apache, make sure those .htaccess lines are in your blog’s main directory, and you should be good to go.