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From Daniel Kahn Gillmor <>
Subject Re: agent-based framework for httpd private keys
Date Wed, 09 Apr 2014 04:08:03 GMT
On Sun 2014-02-09 02:15:37 -0500, Kaspar Brand wrote:
> On 07.02.2014 01:58, Daniel Kahn Gillmor wrote:
>> As part of the goal of dropping encrypted private key support, have you
>> considered using an agent-based framework for private keys?
> I haven't, no, since an important aspect of that goal is to reduce
> complexity in code. Dropping ssl_load_encrypted_pkey and friends from
> trunk amounts to a reduction of about 5% of mod_ssl's ~15,000 LoC right now.
>> Anyway, with some sort of agent-based approach, you could preserve
>> encrypted keys-on-disk (for Joe Orton's examples of admins with access
>> to full-machine backups, or secret-keys-on-NFS) while leaving apache
>> agnostic about the way the keys get *into* the agent.
> Putting the decrypted keys on a RAM disk (tmpfs etc.) is a much more
> straightforward way to achieve this, IMO, with the benefit of being able
> to rely on a well-established method for configuring private keys (and
> not having to introduce another non-standard layer for performing
> private key operations).

i think an agent-based approach (using a secret-key-holding agent in a
separate memory space) would have prevented the exposure of long-term
secret keys in the recent heartbleed attack [0].

While i appreciate that enabling an agent would probably lead to some
code complexity, an agent-based approach does achieve stronger
protection in some contexts than decrypted keys on a RAM disk.

I don't have time to write a patch any time soon for this, but i just
wanted to highlight that i think the idea still has merit.




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