Going down an elliptically curved rabbit hole

Yesterday I posted a guide to securing your nginx server with some good SSL settings. As I mentioned in that post, I am eager to get rid of RSA entirely, because it is going to be broken at some point in the not so distant future. So I spent part of the day researching the possibility of using Elliptic Curve Cryptography for my site, below are some of my findings.

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Securing your site with nginx

This week in the Netherlands the news hit again that some secure websites where vulnerable to a downgrade attack. This attack is not new, but for the average user it is hard to detect. You have to be careful that you see the lock when you are entering your credentials.

Fortunately, most new web servers and browsers have a setting for it, called HTTPs Strict Transport Security (HSTS). With that feature enabled, if your browser has ever contacted a website over a secure link (HTTPS), then it will not allow a downgrade to plain HTTP for that host. This of course means that you are more secure, at least as long as you watch out for certificate warnings. I use the nginx webserver, and use some other things for security, which I’ll share with you below. The SSLLabs test will give this configuration an A+ currently.

Edit 26/3: @okoeroo gave me a better list of ciphers which scores even higher with SSLabs:


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Playing with TinySSH on FreeBSD and OS X

TinySSH is a new small SSH server using state-of-the-art encryption using the TweetNaCL cryptographic library. It piqued my interest as it claims to be an easily configured and auditable SSH server with new cryptographic primitives and has no dependency on OpenSSL. Its development target is Debian, but since it has limited dependencies it is not hard to get it to run on other systems. This post has some notes on how to get things up and running on a FreeBSD server and an OS X client.

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[Dutch] Opvragen van persoonsgegevens

Met behulp van de Privacy Inzage Machine (PIM) heb ik bij een aantal organisaties aangeschreven. Met de PIM genereer je makkelijk een brief om bedrijven te kunnen vragen wat ze precies over je weten. In principe hebben bedrijven en instanties daar vier weken voor, maar in de praktijk wil dat nog wel eens mislopen. Eind januari heb ik (bijna) willekeurig drie instanties aangeschreven: Holland Casino, Albert Heijn en de Gemeente Utrecht. Hieronder mijn ervaringen. Continue reading

Trying out Keybase.io

I’ve joined Keybase this week: keybase.io/jeroenh. This is a new service which hosts a directory of public keys together with a verifiable list of usernames.

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