A Weird Imagination

Secure HTTPS without DANE

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DANE isn't a solution

Yesterday, I described how to setup DANE in order to verify HTTPS keys through DNSSEC. I also noted a very important caveat: no one supports it and both Mozilla and Google are unlikely to ever support it. So we can't expect any security gain from implementing DANE in the real world.

Let's be fair: DNSSEC is no panacea. Browser vendors aren't ignoring it out of spite. They are choosing to not implement it for solid technical and social reasons.

Wait, what's the problem, again?

Let's take a step back and look at why we wanted to use DANE in the first place. The problem is that the HTTPS security model is based on certificate authorities. Your browser has a list of certificate authorities that it trusts and to run a HTTPS site, you ask one (or more) of them to sign your server's public key asserting that your server really is the right one for your domain(s). The catch is that any certificate authority can make assertions about any domain and there's a lot of certificate authorities, many of which are suspected to be under the influence of various governments. This means that you are not just relying on the security of the certificate authority that you choose: you are relying on the security of every single certificate authority in the world. In short, the HTTPS security model is broken.

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DNSSEC on hosted DNS

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DNS is the system that provides information on hostnames like the IP address of aweirdimagination.net so your browser can connect to this website. DNSSEC is an extension which uses cryptographic signatures in order to verify that information is actually correct, preventing certain classes of attacks which could cause you to believe you are connecting to one server while actually connecting to a computer under the attacker's control. Additionally, since DNSSEC verifies information obtained through DNS has not been tampered with, it allows for DNS to be used for certificates, so servers can be authenticated for encrypted protocols without the need for relying on certificate authorities.

The problem

Unfortunately, DNSSEC support is not widespread in clients or servers. Particularly, I did not want to run my own DNS server and have to worry about keeping it updated and being aware of any security vulnerabilities. I wanted to be able to, for a reasonable price, have a domain with full DNSSEC support and use it for securely advertising the https certificate for this website and the ssh server key for the web server. (Admittedly, I am trusting the DNS host more than strictly necessary, but realistically, they are also my registrar so they could simply publish their own keys for my domain if they wanted to take it over.)

The solution

I settled on using easyDNS, since they were the only DNS hosting provider I could find that offered what I wanted; specifically, they very recently added support for TLSA and SSHFP records (for https and ssh keys, respectively). I later found mentions of RAGE4, which also looks like it should work.

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