Installing a new SSL certificate in your ELB via CLI

For future me:

  1. Create the key and CSR:
    $ openssl req -out -new -newkey rsa:2048 -nodes -keyout
  2. Upload the CSR to your SSL vendor (in this case, DigiCert) and obtain the signed SSL certificate.
  3. Create a PEM-encoded version of the signing key. This is required for AWS/IAM certs. To check if your key is already PEM-encoded, just “head -1 site.key”. If the first line says “—–BEGIN PRIVATE KEY—–” then it’s NOT PEM-encoded. The first line should be “—–BEGIN RSA PRIVATE KEY—–“.
    $ openssl rsa -in -outform PEM -out
    writing RSA key
  4. Upload the certificate to the IAM keystore:
    $ aws iam upload-server-certificate --server-certificate-name star_site_20141014 --certificate-body file:///Users/evan/certs_20141014/site/certs/star_site_com.crt --private-key file:///Users/evan/certs_20141014/ --certificate-chain file:///Users/evan/certs_20141014/site/certs/DigiCertCA.crt
        "ServerCertificateMetadata": {
            "ServerCertificateId": "XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX",
            "ServerCertificateName": "star_site_20141014",
            "Expiration": "2017-12-18T12:00:00Z",
            "Path": "/",
            "Arn": "arn:aws:iam::9999999999:server-certificate/star_site_20141014",
            "UploadDate": "2014-10-14T15:29:28.164Z"

Once the above steps are complete, you can go into the web console (EC2 -> Load Balancers), select the ELB whose cert you want to change, click the “Listeners” tab, click the SSL port (443) and select the new cert from the dropdown.

Load balancing in EC2 with Nginx and HAProxy

We wanted to setup a loadbalanced web cluster in AWS for expansion. My first inclination was to use ELB for this, but I soon learned that ELB doesn’t let you allocate a static IP, requiring you to refer to it only by DNS name. This would be OK except for the fact that our current DNS provider, Dyn, requires IP addresses when using their GSLB (geo-based load balancer) service.

Rather than let this derail the whole project, I decided to look into the software options available for loadbalancing in EC2. I’ve been a fan of hardware load balancers for a while, sort of looking down at software-based solutions without any real rationale, but in this case I really had no choice so I figured I’d give it a try.

My first stop was Nginx. I’ve used it before in a reverse-proxy scenario and like it. The problem I had with it was that it doesn’t support active polling of nodes – the ability to send requests to the webserver and mark the node as up or down based on the response. As far as I can tell, using multiple upstream servers in Nginx allows you to specify max_fails and fail_timeout, however a “fail” is determined when a real request comes in. I don’t want to risk losing a real request – I like active polling.
Continue reading Load balancing in EC2 with Nginx and HAProxy

Making sure SSLv2 is disabled in Apache (and Nginx)

Edit Jan 24, 2012: Deleted all the crap from this story and just left the recommended Apache and Nginx SSL cipher suites for maximum security without SSLv2 and without BEAST vulnerability (at least according to Qualys).

Apache httpd

SSLProtocol -ALL +SSLv3 +TLSv1
SSLHonorCipherOrder on


        ssl_protocols  SSLv3 TLSv1;
        ssl_ciphers     ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA384:AES256-SHA256:RC4:HIGH:!MD5:!aNULL:!EDH:!AESGCM;
        ssl_prefer_server_ciphers   on;


Go Daddy $12.99 SSL Sale!

Wasted time with Exchange 2010, SquirrelMail, and IMAP-SSL

I’m setting up SquirrelMail to point to my Exchange 2010 server via IMAP (don’t ask) and couldn’t get SM to talk to Exchange on port 993 (imaps). Even though the servers on the same subnet, any time passwords are being sent over the network I like to opt for SSL. I found a couple of sites suggesting that the problem was that there was no SSL certificate installed, but I knew for a fact there was a valid certificate because I could get to for OWA.

Some of the errors SquirrelMail was reporting were “Error connecting to IMAP server xxxx Server error: (0)” and “Error connecting to IMAP server: tls://xxxx:993. 0: ”

Nothing would actually work on port 993. Telnet to 993 got this:

$ telnet 993
Connected to
Escape character is '^]'.
* BYE Connection is closed. 14
Connection closed by foreign host.

After too much poking, I decided to go down to a lower level and do a simple openssl certificate retrieval and see what came back:

$ openssl s_client -connect
140281653434184:error:140770FC:SSL routines:SSL23_GET_SERVER_HELLO:unknown protocol:s23_clnt.c:699:
no peer certificate available
No client certificate CA names sent
SSL handshake has read 7 bytes and written 113 bytes
New, (NONE), Cipher is (NONE)
Secure Renegotiation IS NOT supported
Compression: NONE
Expansion: NONE

That didn’t look right, so I ran it against the same server on port 443 and got back a real certificate. Same for port 995 (pop3s):

$ openssl s_client -connect
depth=3 L = ValiCert Validation Network, O = "ValiCert, Inc.", OU = ValiCert Class 2 Policy Validation Authority, CN =, emailAddress =
verify return:1
depth=2 C = US, O = "The Go Daddy Group, Inc.", OU = Go Daddy Class 2 Certification Authority
verify return:1


So there’s just something wrong with SSL on port 993. To make a long story short, I had to use the Enable-ExchangeCertificate to apply the SSL certificate to port 993. First, run “Get-ExchangeCertificate” to list the available certificates and retrieve the Thumbprint.

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Get-ExchangeCertificate

Thumbprint                                Services   Subject
----------                                --------   -------
yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy  .P....     CN=exch2010fe1
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  I..W.., OU=Domain Control Validated, O=webmail.ex...

Copy & paste the thumbprint for whichever cert you want to use into Enable-ExchangeCertificate:

[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Enable-ExchangeCertificate -ThumbPrint xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx -Services IIS,P
OP,IMAP -DoNotRequireSSL
[PS] C:\Windows\system32>Get-ExchangeCertificate

Thumbprint                                Services   Subject
----------                                --------   -------
yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy  ......     CN=exch2010fe1
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  IP.W.., OU=Domain Control Validated, O=webmail.ex...

After running that, imaps on port 993 worked perfectly. I can connect to it with both SquirrelMail and Thunderbird.

The SquirrelMail config looks like this:

IMAP Settings
4.  IMAP Server            :
5.  IMAP Port              : 993
6.  Authentication type    : login
7.  Secure IMAP (TLS)      : true
8.  Server software        : exchange
9.  Delimiter              : detect

Edit Feb 15, 2011: I just renewed the SSL cert and ran into a problem with a Ruby script that was suddenly unable to check a mailbox over IMAPS. The error received was:

/usr/lib/ruby/1.8/net/imap.rb:898:in `connect': unknown protocol (OpenSSL::SSL::SSLError)
        from /usr/lib/ruby/1.8/net/imap.rb:898:in `initialize'

After a few minutes, I remembered this blog post and ran Enable-ExchangeCertificate and it worked again. Glad I wrote it down.

CONNECTED(00000003) 26831:error:140790E5:SSL routines:SSL23_WRITE:ssl handshake failure:s23_lib.c:188:

Setting up InspIRCd as an internal IRC server for companywide chat

I got this idea (from this blog post) that it would be cool and great if we had an IRC server to facilitate communication within our team.  I started checking out some different IRC servers to see which ones supported the main features I wanted (LDAP auth & SSL).  I started out with ratbox but I didn’t really like it.  I found InspIRCd and after some config tweaking it’s working well.  Here’s the info from modules.conf for authentication against Active Directory (so people login with their AD usernames):
<module name="">
<ldapauth baserdn="OU=Users,DC=did"
killreason="LDAP auth failed"
Here’s the configure line (since I had to build from source):
./configure --prefix=/usr/local/inspircd --enable-gnutls --uid 101 --enable-extras=m_ldapauth.cpp --enable-extras=m_ldapoper.cpp

I still have some more customization to do to make ChanServ work, but since this is internal I don’t know if that even matters.  Also I can’t seem to get SSL working – I tried compiling with –enable-openssl but that failed, so I went with –enable-gnutls, which worked, but I can’t connect via ircs:// in my client.  If it looks like people are interested in this I may fix it up, but I have a feeling most people won’t be as enthused about it as I am.

Forcing WordPress administration over SSL

I never like typing a password into a non-SSL site, no matter how trivial it is. In order to give my own site this ability I simply used mod_rewrite to force requests to WordPress’s admin pages to go over SSL.

The .htaccess file for the site looks like this:

# BEGIN WordPress

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /evan/
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ - [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /evan/index.php [L]

# END WordPress

To force the admin pages to SSL, just add these lines under RewriteEngine On:

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
RewriteRule ^wp-(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R,L]

Edit – The above code screws up uploads (which go into the /wp-content directory). I replaced that with the following and it Worked As Intended.

RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
RewriteRule ^wp-login(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R,L]
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} !=on
RewriteRule ^wp-admin(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R,L]

That’s pretty much it. If your request starts with “wp-” it’ll redirect you to the same URL, but starting with https://. Problem solved. You do need to make sure you have an SSL VirtualHost pointing to your WordPress DocumentRoot so that goes to the same place as

Outlook 2007 & Exchange 2010 Autodiscover SSL certificate error annoyance

One of the more annoying side effects of migrating my mailbox to Exchange 2010 has been the nagging of Outlook 2007’s Autodiscovery feature. Now, every time I start Outlook I get hit with a certificate error for Now, is a CNAME to, which is the OWA URL for the CAS. The SSL certificate is valid – but it’s valid for I could buy a SSL certificate from GoDaddy for $12.99 (an insanely great price, btw) for “autodiscover” but that would also require using another IP address on the CAS (since you can can only bind one SSL certificate to an IP:port pair), and that seems like a waste of an IP address.

I found a possible solution in KB 940726. Basically you use this cmdlet to change the Autodiscover URI for internal clients:

Set-ClientAccessServer –AutodiscoverServiceInternalUri

You’d replace with the external URL of your OWA server (in my case, I’ve made the changes but I think I need to wait for AD propagation. Hopefully this will resolve it, because I don’t want to move everyone’s mailboxes over until this thing is “perfect,” whatever that means.

Edit: I also needed to add a SRV record so Outlook would know what host to check for autodiscovery when outside the domain.

Edit 2:: Also need to install a hotfix or be running Outlook 2007 SP1 or later for the SRV functionality.

Edit 3: It occurs to me that a simpler fix for this issue may be simply to delete the DNS record for autodiscover entirely. That way, when Outlook attempts to open the SSL connection to, it gets a NXDOMAIN error (should) silently skip it. Unfortunately we have wildcard DNS active for our domain.

Other useful resources: