Tag Archives: Apache

Updates on OpenSSL CVE-2009-3555 (client renegociation)

So there are some news from the front of OpenSSL CVE-2009-3555 (see this and this for the history).

Now the latest version of Apache mod_ssl (2.2) embeds an option to reactivate old way client renegociation :

SSLInsecureRenegotiation on

Check the official doc for more details. With this option activated, you can now safely upgrade openSSL and mod_ssl without breaking your clients. They should have done it from the begining, shouldn’t they ?

The next step will be to move on to the new protocol definitely, to solve for good the CVE-2009-3555 vulnerability. For that we have to wait for the browsers to support it.

Firefox has started to work seriously on it and we can expect some support in the next releases (some settings will be possible through about:config).

They even created a test site. This screenshot was taken from Google Chrome (5.0.366.2, openSUSE repo) which already has support for the SSL protocol :

SSL/TLS RFC updated against CVE-2009-3555

A solution has been finally brought up to fix CVE-2009-3555 and the temporary solution that broke client authentication.

At least, the IETF agreed on a fix as Marsh Ray informs us, though it will still take some weeks for the whole validation process to complete.

Moreover, as it requires both the servers and the clients to be patched, it will take months before the patches can be applied and one can have a working client authentification architecture. The longest will be the client side, of course, so I feel sorry for those who have a large park to manage.

As far as I am concerned, fortunately, I will just have a few browsers that I manage directly to update. Anyway, still more patience is needed !

ModSecurity 2.5 review

I finished reading the ModSecurity 2.5 book, written by Magnus Mischell and published by Packt Publishing.

I found a lot of interest reading it as I was already using ModSecurity – and I think anyone exposing an Apache web server should.
I was actually using it partially. It is not trivial to secure a web application, and the rule engine of ModSecurity is very powerful but it is also quite complex.

So this book was a good opportunity for me to dig into it further.

The book covers all topics : from the set-up to a real use-case.
The author explains how to write rules, how to deal with the performance impact, logging and gives us a range of various core rules to implement to get a good security basis.

The difficulty goes up progressively and the author doesn’t forget the beginners.
The set-up of the module is precisely described. All requirements are also explained and there are some good recalls about regular expressions, common attacks on systems, server and client sides, and other stuff like that.

After reading the book, I could harden my rules, reorganize and optimize them for better performance – something I hadn’t cared about before.

So I have nothing else to say but to recommend this book.
It is definitely a great handbook about ModSecurity that’s worth having next to you. The variety of configuration patterns makes it a reference.

Check it there. I also appreciated the availability of PDF version, so that I can carry it everywhere with my laptop and index it with Beagle.

OpenSSL : CVE-2009-3555 security fix and mod_ssl client authentication breakage

A security advisory on OpenSSL has recently been published. Details are there and there.

It is vulnerable to a MiTM attack where the attacker can intercept and retrieve the credential to a trusted HTTPS website, by intercepting the session cookie sent back to the client.

A proof of concept of an attack against Twitter was made.

Fine. But so far, the answer was to just disable any renegociation.

This actually causes some issues with SSL session timeout and totally broke client authentication.

I got into problems because of the latter. I am using client authentication for some location of my web server, and I recently could not connect anymore to these with the following log in apache :

[Tue Nov 24 16:56:15 2009] [debug] ssl_engine_kernel.c(1912): OpenSSL:Exit: error in SSLv3 read client hello A
[Tue Nov 24 16:56:15 2009] [error] [client x.x.x.x] Re-negotiation handshake failed: Not accepted by client!?

I first was not aware of the openssl patch and tried almost anything possible. My focus was, of course, on the certificate and the client.
But, a nice guy on IRC #suse, Stittel, had a good hunch and suggested me to look at the CVE-2009-3555 fix.

After more tests, it was quickly confirmed to work well with older versions of OpenSSL (as shipped in Debian Lenny).
Finally, I downgraded the OpenSSL version on my openSUSE box to a version prior to the CVE-2009-3555 fix and it just worked fine.

Then, I dig into it and found a lot of interesting reports there and there. So far it is a real mess.
In short, the breakage will stay as long as browsers don’t also include a patch to avoid renegotiation.
So far, I could not find a browser that does include a patch.
If anyone reading it knows a version that does it, please let me know.

Meanwhile, you have actually the choice between :

  • low security by deactivating client authentication on your server
  • low security by keeping a vulnerable version of OpenSSL

As my server is not very exposed, I chose the latter, but that’s not satisfying.  It is not recommended, but if like me you need to use client authentication with mod_ssl on openSUSE 11.2, do :

% zypper install --from repo-oss openssl openssl-certs libopenssl0_9_8 libopenssl0_9_8-32bit

where repo-oss is the alias to the 11.2 release (without updates) on your system.

What a brutal way to fix an issues without much notification and consideration to the users ! Even the log message is wrong and just confusing the administrator…

PS 1 : thanks again to Stittel for the good hint (I hope you will come by here) and to the always nice and helpful #suse channel in general ;)

PS 2 : bug reported on openSUSE bugzilla