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CloudFlare enabling free SSL by mid-October (cloudflare.com)
154 points by moonboots on Aug 7, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 61 comments

Please note that using Cloudflare, even with free SSL, is not an increase to the security and privacy of your users. On the contrary, Cloudflare records information about your users (this cannot be disabled) and, by default, blocks users who attempt to view your site through privacy-enhancing software. I would suggest that people looking to install SSL on their website (this should be everybody) instead get their free SSL certificate from gandi.net or StartSSL, who do not spy on or block your users.

I assume you are referring to Tor? We love Tor and the specific things we block by default are resource consumption bots. If people enable. "I Am Under Attack" mode , I think there is some incidental interstitial challenge for Tor, but not blocked.

We don't comment on our customers unless they authorize us to, but based on the list of public ones, I would be pretty comfortable, even if I didn't work there.

Anyone here can test nilved's claim easily enough. Just visit Hacker News using Tor or a VPN, since the site uses Cloudflare.

Side note: Your announcement is really exciting.

No, (a) not all exit nodes and VPN IPs are effected (b) not all servers have that option enabled. I use Tor and am very frequently blocked from using reddit, imgur and other sites because of it.

Honestly the bot detection stuff in production today isn't the most awesome version of that feature possible, and improving it (especially to work with tor and vpns) is a priority, but not the highest. Cloudflare is paying for me to be at DefCon right now to launch an open source firewall / evasion tool (plug able transports to the next level) in 2 days, with the grugq, so it isn't like we are opposed to tor or anything.

So, you're saying that using HTTP instead of HTTPS doesn't increase the privacy of users? I'd say that it does "increase" the privacy, although nobody is saying that it fixes every hole in the boat...

Speaking strictly, you're right, but when you consider (a) Cloudflare's connection to your server is insecure (b) Cloudflare is listening in on every request (c) Cloudflare blocks VPN and Tor users, it doesn't seem like such an obvious decision. But that's a false dichotomy, since everybody should use HTTPS, nobody should use HTTP, and, most importantly, nobody should be okay with third-parties snooping on your users.

    Cloudflare's connection to your server is insecure
This isn't always the case. The connection can be secure.

Yeah, it can even be cert pinned, which is probably better than a non pinned end to end tls unless your attacker is local to you, due to the wonders of anycast. Also, like Google, we are constantly looking for malicious stuff like this on our IPs.

I had the same initial thought about (a), but the comments mentioned that CloudFlare issues a certificate you can install on your origin servers which will allow secure connections with CloudFlare.

I'm using a VPN (tunnelbear) and I can access my website that's behind cloudflare

Yes, it worries me that Cloudflare is proxying an ever larger number of websites I visit. It is not so easy to dump Cloudflare when you need it though. They mitigate DDoS attacks, handle large volume traffic. I think moot even said that he'd have to close 4chan if it wasn't for Cloudflare.

Cloudflare hosts and defends the sites of numerous DDoS-for-pay services and they refuse to take them down.


"[The DDoS-for-pay] industry probably would destroy itself without Cloudflare’s protection, and furthermore ... some might perceive a credibility issue with a company that sells DDoS protection services providing safe haven to an entire cottage industry of DDoS-for-hire services."

That actually makes me trust them more. If they don't take down a site like that, then whatever site I run is certainly in the clear.

Glad you posted that, as I'm interested in seeing this discussion continued (re. my admittedly late post in that thread).

Gandi is free for a year and then expensive after - Namecheap may not be free but renewals and initial costs are much lower. StartSSL is free but revoke-ing costs money.

Revoking StartSSL is only $25. If you go 3 years without needing revocation then you're ahead of paying Namecheap or anyone else for basic domain validation.

Namecheap vs Gandi is like 6.5 vs 12 EUR. Yes is almost double, but I don't know if I would consider them as cheap and "expensive".

just checked now, Gandi is 40€/yr, not that expensive compared to big names like Verisign & co. I have used in the past RapidSSL, but it is same price, 50$/yr. I've just checked Namecheap and it's reselling other SSL like Comodo or Geotrust, but it looks less expensive, so yes, probably it's the best price.

At Gandi, a single-address standard SSL cert is $16/12€ per year. The $50/40€ applies to multi-address certs (3 addresses)

The full SSL price list is here: https://www.gandi.net/ssl/grid

you are right, I read the wrong line!

Most of the websites wont encrypt the link from Cloudflare to the server, ultimately defeating the purpose of SSL aside from a better search ranking.

It's not a problem if those connections use self-signed certificates, right? If that's the case, then setting up SSL from CloudFlare to your servers should be pretty easy.

It would be free, but not necessarily easy, as it would still entail configuring your web server to use SSL, and that might not even be an option if you're using shared hosting.

(Aside: self signed certs don't protect the connection from active attacks unless CloudFlare pins the cert. I'm mainly concerned with passive eavesdropping though.)

That's what we're going to do: issue certs that our customers can use on their origins, that will be trusted by our network, and that will be pinned to a particular site. That will allow end-to-end cryptographic connections. There are other groups working on making installing and setting up SSL on origin servers easier, that's not something we're likely to tackle, but agree it's important.

That's amazing. Thank you.

That is excellent. Thank you!

Could you elaborate on this. My impression was that connections between data centres (e.g. in the case of using an EC2 instance with Cloudflare) were already very secure and therefore do not require SSL.

Depends what you're trying to protect against. Those links are notably very insecure against the NSA.

Right. If there were a diagram of this architecture, the NSA would scribble "SSL added and removed here" with a smiley face[1]. It's arguably even worse, since the traffic between CloudFlare and the origin server would be traveling in the clear on the public Internet, as opposed to in the clear within Google's private network.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nsa-in...

There is also the practical concern for NSA that cloudflare is a well resourced, highly motivated company who has publicly committed to protecting customer data. It would be a lot easier to push around a small company or non profit, especially a company which didn't have the resources or freedom to defend itself. It would certainly be possible to try to get a company like CloudFlare, Twitter, etc to bend to the NSA's will , but they know they are basically guaranteed a fight. Much safer to go to a smaller hosting provider or the end user organization or personnel themselves.

It's reasonable to suppose that the NSA have a whole bunch of private signing keys for a whole bunch of CAs, and will just MITM anyone they please regardless of our puny efforts.

I'm not sure that's a safe assumption and, regardless, an active MITM attack is a much bigger deal than passively collecting traffic as it flows past you in the clear.

Agree with others that it depends on what you are trying to protect against. It's also worth reading through the options that Cloudflare supports for origin server communication:


What's the difference between this and using AWS ELB for HTTPS termination?

Communication from CloudFlare to your server is over the open Internet, whereas that from an ELB to an EC2 instance is within Amazon's datacentre.

Are there more actual implementation details somewhere? Sounds like selecting the ssl context based on the clients SNI request. This (obviously) would predicate client SNI support, as opposed to anycast IPs or similar.

CloudFlare's CEO says that free SSL will use SNI with ipv4 [1] and possibly non-SNI with ipv6 [2]. A CloudFlare engineer has discussed splitting the SSL handshake between servers so their many edge nodes don't need to keep customer secret keys in memory [3]. However, this sounds slightly different than the lazy loading behavior in the blog post.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7910849

[2] https://twitter.com/eastdakota/status/478369486643658754

[3] http://www.slideshare.net/cloudflare/running-secure-server-s...

Non-SNI over ipv6 seems pretty pointless since anything supporting ipv6 is going to have sni anyway.

Not sure why otterley was down voted. XP is going to exist for a while.

Old android/mobile clients are another case. Mobile operators are moving towards transparent "4 in 6" NAT/encap on their edges. The server would see a layer 3 IPv6 client, while the actual layer 7 client is an old Android/java stack.

Not true; Windows XP supports IPv6 but not SNI.

While that's technically true, XP doesn't enable IPv6 by default, so virtually no one uses it.

I believe you could use node.js or https://github.com/indutny/bud for asynchronously selecting SNI context per request. This is very fast and flexible.

Does it bother anyone else that when you try to visit the Google post explaining that they are using HTTPs as a ranking signal via https it redirects to http?


Do not announce things until done. This is just shameless marketing stunt.

I presume that customer private keys need to be stored on Cloudflare servers to implement this. Has that just made Cloudflare servers a legitimate prime NSA target?

I.e. all your keys belong to us

We have a product, "keyless ssl", which is used by some customers to retain on premise custody of their asymmetric key material, actually.

Cloudflare throwing it down with authority...well played. In the end the consumer really doesn't give a hoot. They want simple.

Why are people up-voting an ad?

Are EV certs going to remain Business/Enterprise-only?


I would have guessed EV certs to remain business only. Well, perhaps not business only, but still requiring additional validation. How do you believe EV will be handled? Thanks!

EDIT: I didn't realize you represented cloud-flare. I'm genuinely curious how EV certs will work. Thanks!

You'll have to supply your own EV cert, but you'll be able to use custom certs (EV or otherwise) at the Pro ($20/mo) level.

Thank you!

CloudFlare is the coolest free CDN out there.

what I just paid 20/month for the SSL....

Update: I have another concern I just found out.

For example, I do a lot of web scraping through my domain and I see that I was automatically opted in to use https://www.cloudflare.com/apps/scrapeshield, something that is supposed to block scraping.

There's a huge conflict of interest if it turns out that the cloudflare network actively aims to help block scraping.

I know you guys said you will be on the neutral side but if the cloudflare is helping Scrapeshield become more intelligent about scraping by monitoring my scraping actions, I really don't know if it's wise to stay with cloudflare, as much as I love it.

Scrapeshield is a CloudFlare feature. If you don't want it, turn it off. Here's the announcement from when we launched the feature:


We'll be adding some cool new features to our paid plans at the same time, so I hope you'll decide to continue paying us the $20.

Good to hear - I just signed up and put in the $20 myself (not a very large barrier), and I'm glad features like custom certificates (& other things) will be available as mentioned elsewhere in this thread. CloudFlare seems like a great product so far.

I don't get it. A domain is just an address, how can you scrape through your domain? Do you mean server? But scrapping is an outbound connection, how could they monitor it?

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