I understand that many organizations, even fairly large/respected organizations like the ieee work on a limited "IT" budget, but we've reached the point in our society where it's reasonable to expect these guys to do the bare minimum.
Just like everyone working in a restaurant needs to know the basics of food handling in order to avoid getting people sick, everyone who's operating a website with logins has a responsibility to:
a) Not send passwords over http
b) Not send passwords via GET (which is typically logged)
c) Hash their passwords
Anything less, and you're putting the public in danger.
OK, please educate me. (Take me as a model web developer.)
I just have a simple LAMP server and I don't really understand Apache. How do I make it "https"?
They've got a "How to install" section that specifically deals with Apache (and another one which deals with WHM/cPanel if you're using that for your LAMP management).
It's less than an afternoon's work to get up to speed.
Note that you'll need a dedicated ip address (or you might settle for a server running new enough versions of Apache to use SNI - http://wiki.apache.org/httpd/NameBasedSSLVHostsWithSNI - but that'll still not work for IE6 and very old versions of other browsers - pre 2.0 for Firefox)
You can get free certificates backed by a CA trusted by most browsers, for example at https://www.startssl.com. There are some limitations (e.g. no wildcard certificates) but it's still much better than a self-signed one.
OK, please educate me. (Take me as a model restauranteur.)
I occasionally quickly cook meals in my kitchen. I never figured out what I should do exactly to set up the dishwasher with detergent, without needing to pay for the detergent.
I just have a simple kitchen and I don't really understand dishwashing. How should I make it "hygienic"?
(That guy would get shut down by the health authorities as soon as he started serving food to the public. Why aren't web developers offering their systems to the public held to basic data safety practices?)
Because most people grow up knowing how to use dishwashers, but not knowing how to use SSL. Until we get to that point, we should focus on educating and informing people instead of snarking at them and hoping they get shut down.
The OP's (parody) comment is not about using dishwashers, but rather about dishwashing without using any detergent despite knowing that detergent is to dishwashing as SSL Certs is to https ...
and FTR, I did not grow up knowing how to use dishwashers but was quite aware of the basic relationship between the act of dishwashing and detergents. Extrapolating that fundamental relationship to a dishwasher is to say the least -- elementary.
That can't possibly work, right? If a user accesses my website over unsecured HTTP, gets sent to an HTTPS DailyCred (or other OAuth provider) site to log in, and back to my unsecured HTTP site, they're still as vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks as if the OAuth provider didn't use HTTPS.
In particular, a man-in-the-middle can capture the redirect to DailyCred and instead send the user to some trojaned site to capture their username and password (and then forward it on to you to get a legitimate token, but the password's been leaked in the process).
I don't think it's helpful to say "we do HTTPS so you don't have to". Your users still need to be using HTTPS and preferably HSTS, unless I'm misunderstanding the intended use case. (I'm very happy to see that you guys do HSTS, though!)
All of our inbound links and API calls from our clients are https from the get go. However, you are correct that a man-in-the-middle could rewrite the http website of someone using us to change the links to http from https and then perform a man-in-the-middle attack on that request.
Because of this narrow risk, we encourage our clients to still get ssl certs as they grow. However, when they are small MVPish non-sensitive apps with 50 users, the risk of this kind of attack is very small. (For example, Facebook Connect, which has the same vulnerability I described, would be a much more obvious target with a very high payload.)
The way we see it is getting people who are about to either store plaintext passwords or not salt their hashes correctly or pass them over non-https (like HN by default, boo!) or mess up a dozen other things, we're much more secure.
Unfortunately you do have to pay some money. Godaddy offers certs for 12.00 USD a year, which is probably less than you're paying to host the site.
As for making it https, (hypothetical web developer) most cheap hosting providers actually provide tools for managing certs and apache configs in cpanel. It's not too difficult to do yourself. Basically install mod_ssl and copy paste a standard config, substituting the pathnames for the paths of the certs you got from a CA.
I understand that your average beginning-throw-up-a-website-for-a-business would find this difficult, but they can hire someone for an hour to install their certificates.
If you don't want to worry about buying certificates and configuring webservers for HTTPS, check out CloudFlare. It's a bit expensive ($20/month for the first site, $5/month for additional sites) if all you care about is SSL, but they offer a lot more than just SSL:
I think at this point, I think the software community at large is responsible for not solving this problem once and for all. It's clearly preferable to trust each OS/Browser vendor rather than trust each and every web site.
If you want to have a shared folder that you share between people you trust, it's still the simplest solution. It's very low-level, but it works.
Yes, you can buy a cloud offering, but physical disk is still way cheaper than "cloud disk". You don't have all the cloud features, but on the other hand, the data are 100% yours, on a server that you control.
I don't buy that it's "the simplest". Just about every major Linux distro ships w/ SFTP enabled out-of-the-box. How is installing an FTP server easier than just using the built-in SFTP server?
I've been trying to actively discourage the use of FTP for the last 10+ years. It's not an option because it passes passwords in-the-clear. Protocols that pass cleartext authentication should just be off the table today.
I find that positive attitudes towards FTP often seem to correlate with positive feelings towards Telnet, and both seem to correlate with "Not really that comfortable with Nix"*.
The number of times I have had to correct tech-ish friends when they talk about "telnet-ing" into servers is frightening. All of them were relatively technology literate but either didn't do it for a living or got into doing it for a living "by accident". Think your physics major buddy who has only ever used windows on any computer that he owns.
You put people like that in the position to make a call, and I assure you you'll have an FTP server running somewhere in 5 minutes flat.
I believe that random Windows authoring software is vaguely more likely to have FTP built in than SFTP. (But finding good SFTP software for Windows, e.g. WinSCP, is not hard, so this is not much of an argument.)
It's also the case that SFTP requires giving someone an actual user account on your UNIX box, and preferably knowing enough about how to set SSH up to restrict them to SFTP access only. If your server is much more valuable than the data and you don't trust yourself not to get SSH configuration subtly wrong, it's not terribly unreasonable to prefer installing an FTP server to adding a local user and giving someone else a password to it.
If Microsoft every had of built a decent client into Windows Explorer like MacOSX has (rather than the crufty, half baked one they ran with) then it could have been great. As it turns out, it is only really easy to access it through FTP-like programs (separate from Windows Explorer).
Having said that, we had pretty good experiences with WebDrive  allowing us to mount WebDAV directories in Windows. Also, Gnome does a pretty good job on Linux with GVFS .
Which makes me wonder why approximately everyone has a parser for the common FTP directory listing formats, but I'm not sure I've seen any HTTP client that parses Apache mod_autoindex output or the other big servers' equivalents.
I am not too well-versed in this sphere, but I would also require salting passwords when hashing. It obviously won't help if your database is compromised, but will protect your users (and your database) against the effects of leaks such as these.
It's implicitly understood by everyone who cares about this topic that salting is intrinsic to KDFs. I.E. by the time you've read through, and understood http://codahale.com/how-to-safely-store-a-password/, you understand why "salting" your password gains you nothing, because rainbow tables are no longer particularly relevant to cracking passwords. And yes, while there is salting inherent to KDFs, that's not the major feature of them, but an assumed implementation detail.
> rainbow tables are no longer particularly relevant to cracking passwords
If you use a common hash with no salt you can bet your britches the attacker will use rainbow tables!
It's also worth pointing out that rainbow tables aren't the only attack you are exposed to if you don't salt your passwords - it also prevents finding collisions, and massively slows down forward hashing attacks.
Negative on that. Not all algorithms produce the salt internally like bcrypt does--programmers must still be careful to supply a sufficiently lengthy random salt as input to PBKDF2, for example. Labeling folks who know this as stuck in the past or ignorant is a mistake.
And there's a reason why high-level libraries like bcrypt handle salt generation and storage internally: if they didn't, people would screw it up. It's amazing how many people blithely use some crazy scheme like
pwhash = md5("this is my salt" + password)
Progress in password hashing security is primarily progress in making things trivially foolproof and then hectoring people into using them.
Well, we need to define the attack if we're going to talk about what will and won't help. Generally when we talk password security, we assume the attack is to discover a large number of users' passwords, not to spoof as one. Additionally, it's more common to get read-only access to the data than it is to be able to execute arbitrary queries against the DB.
Only doing that won't help. You might as well be transmitting the password, since someone can just copy the hash and then it would be equivalent to having the password. (Also known as a Pass the Hash attack, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pass_the_hash).
The right way to do that is Digest authentication, which is a challenge-response mechanism (so you never actually send a password or something equivalently stealable). I call it the right way mostly because it's built in to just about all servers and clients; doing it over HTTP is still not a terribly good idea.