Tag Archives: ssl

Should we distrust Comodo after issuing a rogue SSL certificate for Windows Live?

About a year ago, I wrote an article why I no longer trust StartSSL. Back then, I said I switched to a paid certificate issued by Comodo under the PositiveSSL brand instead. A reader now brought a recent issue with a Comodo certificate erroneously issued for Microsoft’s Windows Live to my attention and asked whether I would still prefer them over StartSSL.

Arno wrote this comment (link):

Do you still trust Commodo to be more trustworthy than StartCom just because they asked for money to handle revocations? Think twice – a guy from Finland managed to get a valid certificate from Commodo for “live.fi”, (Microsoft Live in Finland), just because he was able to register “hostmaster@live.fi” as his e-mail-address:

http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/03/bogus-ssl-certificate-for-windows-live-could-allow-man-in-the-middle-hacks/

I started to type my answer as a comment as well, but soon I realized my explanation just became too long to be a comment, so I turned it into an article on its own.
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SNI bug fix for ssl-cert-check, now on Github

Recently I found some new bug in ssl-cert-check, my tool for checking the expiry dates of local and remote SSL certificates. The tool has worked fine for me over the years, but I used to have expiry dates that were very close to another, so I never noticed that it did not work for web servers using SNI to serve multiple domains with virtual hosts from the same IP address. I am sorry I did not think of this earlier. I fixed the bug now and in case you have such a setup, I encourage you to get the new release.

I also noticed it becomes cumbersome to maintain the updates with blog posts and downloads here. Therefore, ssl-cert-check is now on Github and I will continue to make releases from there.

You can get the latest release tagged 2014-08-20 either as a local download or from github.com.

Checking expiry dates of local and remote SSL certificates

A few years ago I already covered how to check the expiry date of a SSL certificate using OpenSSL. When the recent global outage of Windows Azure was caused by an expired SSL certificate, this got me thinking about this topic once again.

In my previous post, I presented a mechanism to check the remaining lifetime of an SSL certificate using the PEM certificate file locally on disk. However, in the case with Azure recently, customers were dependent on the actions by Microsoft and had no access to the actual file. Thus, there might be a need to check remote certificates of services you use, e.g. your off-site backup provider. As you want to ensure you can always use this service, why not check this for expiring certificates once in a while? Maybe it’s your notification to the sysadmins who saves yourself and all other customers from being locked out.

Here is the updated script ssl-cert-check that now not only handles x509 certificate files, but also remote addresses for various forms and protocols. For simplicity, here are the usage instruction from inside this script:

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Checking expiry dates of SSL certificates

Once again I missed the expiry date of one of the SSL certificates on my server. Therefore I am now using a cronjob to warn me early enough that a certificate is about to expire.

This is the script /usr/local/bin/ssl-cert-check which checks the expiry date of the certificate files passed as arguments:

#!/bin/bash
 
DAYS=30
 
for file in "$@"; do
    openssl x509 -checkend $(( 86400 * $DAYS )) -in "$file" > /dev/null
    if [ $? != 0 ]; then
        echo "==> Certificate $file is about to expire soon:"
        openssl x509 -enddate -in "$file" -noout
    fi
done

And the corresponding cronjob entry checking SSL certificates once a day:

MAILTO=root
6       6    * * *  nobody  /usr/local/bin/ssl-cert-check /etc/apache2/ssl/*.crt /etc/ssl/certs/dovecot.pem