This guide will aim to inform you of strong cryptographic protocols and ciphers to use on a web server on Ubuntu 16.04 and NGINX.
Secure encryption protocols are used to secure communications between a server and client. Older SSL protocols like Netscape’s Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) are flagged as DO NOT USE use by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Newer protocols like Transport Layer Security (TLS) are the newer recommended SSL protocols to use.
Wikipedia Article on Cryptographic Protocol’s
A security protocol (cryptographic protocol or encryption protocol) is an abstract or concrete protocol that performs a security-related function and applies cryptographic methods, often as sequences of cryptographic primitives. A protocol describes how the algorithms should be used. A sufficiently detailed protocol includes details about data structures and representations, at which point it can be used to implement multiple, interoperable versions of a program.
Wikipedia on Ciphers
In cryptography, a cipher (or cypher) is an algorithm for performing encryption or decryption—a series of well-defined steps that can be followed as a procedure. An alternative, less common term is encipherment. To encipher or encode is to convert information into cipher or code. In common parlance, “cipher” is synonymous with “code,” as they are both a set of steps that encrypt a message; however, the concepts are distinct in cryptography, especially classical cryptography.
Wikipedia article on Elliptic-curve cryptography
Wikipedia article on Diffie–Hellman key exchange
Bad SSL Assumptions I have heard for not using HTTPS
- I am not a bank so I don’t need HTTPS
- SSL overhead is was too high on servers.
- My site only has static content, I don’t need HTTPS
- I don’t need SSL to secure my site I just need to be less of a target than others
- I don’t hold confidential information (Wrong)
Don’t be Lazy and secure a site poorly
A local business that wanted me to buy their goods is not convincing me.
Google has an HTTPS usage graph for all communications to its services (hint it’s growing): https://transparencyreport.google.com/https/overview?hl=en
SSL is here to stay, Non-SSL sites will soon be labelled insecure, Non-SSL sites will have Search Engine Optimization (SEO) adversely affected.
Also, secure pages will be treated as normal (not flagged as secure)
In October, Chrome will remove the “secure” indicator on all HTTPS pages and mark pages that do no use the secure version of the HTTP protocol with a red “not secure” warning. This change will make the web safer to use by default. https://t.co/ar3lwB9aRt
— J-François Lavigne (@jflavigne) May 25, 2018
History of Protocol’s – Launch Dates
- SSL 1.0 (never launched)
- SSL 2.0 1995
- SSL 3.0 1996
- TLS 1.0 1999
- TLS 1.1 2006
- TLS 1.2 2008
- TLS 1.3 2018
- TLS 1.0 is supported by All Browsers
- TLS 1.1 is supported on IE11+, Edge, Firefox 24+, Chrome 22+, Safari 7+, Opera 12.1+, iOS Safari 5.1+, Chrome 62 on Android 5+ etc
- TLS 1.2 is supported on IE11+, Edge, Firefox 27, Chrome 30+, Safari 7+, Opera 17+, iOS Safari 5.1, Chrome 62 on Android 5+ etc
- TLS 1.3 is not supported by IE, Edge, Safari, iOS Safari, Android but is supported by Firefox 52, Chrome 56, Opera 43.
At the time of writing, you need to opt into TLS 1.3 draft specification in Chrome.
Cypher or Cypher
Read this page to see the history of the word Cipher or Cypher?
Buying an SSL certificate
Opening your wallet may not buy you the best certificate either, this was an SSL Labs review of a $150 SSL certificate Ii purchased a few years ago from a CPanel web host.
I don’t buy commercial certificates anymore, I prefer free SSL certificates from Lets Encrypt
I prefer to set up my own (free) SSL certificate with Lest Encrypt and tets those certificated with https://dev.ssllabs.com/ssltest/
You can configure your web server to only use certain protocols.
And define preferred ciphers
Don’t forget to renew your SSL certificates ahead of time.
Also run a modern browser like Google Chrome Canary as some old browsers thnk expired SSL certificates are Secure
OpenSSL has implemented support for five TLS v1.3 cipher suites:
Test OpenSSL Cipher Suites
A handy guide about using ciphers
Testing a remote host’s ciphers and protocols with cipherscan
Clone this repository: https://github.com/mozilla/cipherscan
Scan a site
Cipher scan can also recommend settings to change to help you harden a server (based on https://wiki.mozilla.org/Security/Server_Side_TLS)
More info on hardening here.
TLS 1.3 Information
SSLLabs Grading of certificates
Read about SSL Labs grading here
snip from here
- A+ – exceptional configuration
- A – strong commercial security
- B – adequate security with modern clients, with older and potentially obsolete crypto used with older clients; potentially smaller configuration problems
- C – obsolete configuration, uses obsolete crypto with modern clients; potentially bigger configuration problems
- D – configuration with security issues that are typically difficult or unlikely to be exploited, but can and should be addressed
- E – unused
- F – exploitable and/or patchable problems, misconfigured server, insecure protocols, etc.
We wish to make clear that, while A+ is clearly the desired grade, both A and B grades are acceptable and result in adequate commercial security. The B grade, in particular, may be applied to configurations designed to support very wide audiences, many of whom use very old programs to connect. The C grade is generally used for configurations that don’t follow best practices. Grades D and F are used for servers with serious configuration and security issues.
REady to go SSL configuration: https://cipherli.st/
Download ready to go Diffie–Hellman primes. https://2ton.com.au/dhtool/
We have dedicated 48 CPU cores to the task of continuously generating 2048, 3072, 4096 and 8192 bit DH parameters, and the public service we present here allows access to the most-recent 128 of each.
Diffie–Hellman key exchange (DH) is a method of securely exchanging cryptographic keys over a public channel and was one of the first public-key protocols as originally conceptualized by Ralph Merkle and named after Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman. DH is one of the earliest practical examples of public key exchange implemented within the field of cryptography.
Traditionally, secure encrypted communication between two parties required that they first exchange keys by some secure physical channel, such as paper key lists transported by a trusted courier. The Diffie–Hellman key exchange method allows two parties that have no prior knowledge of each other to jointly establish a shared secret key over an insecure channel. This key can then be used to encrypt subsequent communications using a symmetric key cipher.
Diffie–Hellman is used to secure a variety of Internet services. However, research published in October 2015 suggests that the parameters in use for many DH Internet applications at that time are not strong enough to prevent compromise by very well-funded attackers, such as the security services of large governments.
More to come, I hope this guide helps someone.
Windows Protocol/Cipher installer: https://www.nartac.com/
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V1.2 expired and use a modern browser
v1.1 bad SSL
v1.0 Initial post