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)
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.
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.
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: