Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Perimeter

8/20/2009
05:35 AM
Gadi Evron
Gadi Evron
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Why I Refuse to Update My Website Certificate

Every year or so, someone reports a supposed security vulnerability in a site that I run, warning me that the certificate has expired. I always respond that I would be happy to update it when I get a free moment, but that it is far from a priority.

Every year or so, someone reports a supposed security vulnerability in a site that I run, warning me that the certificate has expired. I always respond that I would be happy to update it when I get a free moment, but that it is far from a priority.Certificates do not certify the site is real -- far from it. Certificates don't indicate trust -- that's a scam that earns certain security vendors quite a lot of money.

Anyone can buy a certificate for their Website by indicating they own the domain, with little verification, and in some past cases, no verification at all. Certificates cannot be completely trusted to verify ownership.

And certificates don't really mean that a site is real, only that it's domain name is real. They're abused all the time: criminals break into servers and host their malicious sites on the sites hosted there, using certificates stolen from these sites owners.

Why then do I even bother with a certificate?

My site's certificate is self-signed. It has no trust when it comes to indicating I am who I say I am, but it does encrypt the traffic to and from it. Communication encryption is the only viable reason to use a Website certificate.

If you run a public Website, buy a cheap certificate, but not for providing trust. It will at least provide encryption to protect against eavesdropping.

Besides, users don't check certificates. They click "okay." So even if the certificate did convey any sense of trust, its use would be limited to experts with time on their hands.

And certificates are also money-makers: vendors sell a false sense of security by providing a small picture to put on your Webpage that certifies you are "Hacking Safe." But that's misleading.

You shouldn't trust Web certificates. Still, there are no alternatives. Perhaps it is time we came up with a real methodology to verify Websites rather than perpetuate this defunct technology.

Follow Gadi Evron on Twitter: http://twitter.com/gadievron

Gadi Evron is an independent security strategist based in Israel. Special to Dark Reading. Gadi is CEO and founder of Cymmetria, a cyber deception startup and chairman of the Israeli CERT. Previously, he was vice president of cybersecurity strategy for Kaspersky Lab and led PwC's Cyber Security Center of Excellence, located in Israel. He is widely recognized for ... View Full Bio

 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/2/2020
Ripple20 Threatens Increasingly Connected Medical Devices
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/30/2020
DDoS Attacks Jump 542% from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020
Dark Reading Staff 6/30/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
How Cybersecurity Incident Response Programs Work (and Why Some Don't)
This Tech Digest takes a look at the vital role cybersecurity incident response (IR) plays in managing cyber-risk within organizations. Download the Tech Digest today to find out how well-planned IR programs can detect intrusions, contain breaches, and help an organization restore normal operations.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-9498
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
Apache Guacamole 1.1.0 and older may mishandle pointers involved inprocessing data received via RDP static virtual channels. If a userconnects to a malicious or compromised RDP server, a series ofspecially-crafted PDUs could result in memory corruption, possiblyallowing arbitrary code to be executed...
CVE-2020-3282
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
A vulnerability in the web-based management interface of Cisco Unified Communications Manager, Cisco Unified Communications Manager Session Management Edition, Cisco Unified Communications Manager IM & Presence Service, and Cisco Unity Connection could allow an unauthenticated, remote attack...
CVE-2020-5909
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, when users run the command displayed in NGINX Controller user interface (UI) to fetch the agent installer, the server TLS certificate is not verified.
CVE-2020-5910
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, the Neural Autonomic Transport System (NATS) messaging services in use by the NGINX Controller do not require any form of authentication, so any successful connection would be authorized.
CVE-2020-5911
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-02
In versions 3.0.0-3.5.0, 2.0.0-2.9.0, and 1.0.1, the NGINX Controller installer starts the download of Kubernetes packages from an HTTP URL On Debian/Ubuntu system.