Things that annoy me, number 543,321: Expired or no SSL certificates

Update: MPC finally got around to renewing their SSL certificate on the 15th May!  Alas, however, for mixed content delivery. 🙁

This is 2018, a year where IT infrastructure is constantly under attack, and privacy is king (except when it isn’t, and just you’ve given an app permission to slurp your data and sell it the highest bidder),  I’m a very strong advocate of making sure that ALL websites load over SSL by default because any form of input from the client (whether it be form filling – such as a local search engine, for example) will be sent over in plain text which gives anybody the opportunity to sniff the contents of the transmission.

SSL hasn’t had it easy, however.  We’ve had companies running certificate authorities compromised, SSL vendors compromised, key encryption algorithms weakened by increasing power of technology forcing everybody to switch to a stronger algorithm, and all manner of things in-between.  I’ve seen a lot in the 9 years I’ve been working in the hosting industry, and in the 9 months I’ve been working in e-commerce.  I’ve been using SSL on this blog for a considerable amount of time.  Whether paid SSL certificates, Let’s Encrypt, cPanel/Comodo issued certificates or through CloudFlare.

ALAS!

I’ve recently ranted (then deleted) about how a BBC Apprentice winner launched their brand new website without SSL, then added SSL but screwed loading assets over the secure connection, and a number of other issues that are super important in modern web site maintenance.   I also discovered ANOTHER Apprentice winner not loading their website over SSL by default, and with contact forms that send data over in plain text.  So much for that £250,000 investment!

Then, as I was just browsing the ‘net, I suffered problems browsing a major computer vendor’s web site where a third party service they use had an expired SSL certificate, leading to mixed content and warnings galore.

Now I’m stumbling across websites that have SSL, but are using a certificate from a Symantec distrust source which essentially means that anybody who bought a certificate from one of the vendors mentioned in the link prior to certain dates will need to have their certificate re-issued (or if it’s close to expiry, just renew it a little earlier than expected).

Despite the pain in the arse managing SSL brings, it is nevertheless very important.  Google will start downranking websites in their search rankings that don’t have it, and the likes of Chrome will eventually display a big unfriendly warning that a site is insecure if you do not load your site over SSL by default.  Chrome is still very much the dominant browser on the block right now, so I’d take notice of what they’re planning to do!

I shall give you an example of what I consider to be bad web site management.

So, former employers of mine, MPC (The Moving Picture Company), why has an Academy award-winning (amongst many, many other awards) failed to renew their SSL certificate which is still in place (some 216 days) on their web server?  This is sloppy!  Just removing it is a better thing to do than leaving an expired certificate in place.  I sincerely hope that they do not have any client facing logins off the main moving-picture.com because this would cause me to scream.

On a more positive note, their web server doesn’t accept SSLv3 connections.  But that’s perhaps the only good thing I can say about their set-up.

Bad Academy award winning company. Bad!
Red warning colour by Technicolor! Which will persist if MPC, like many other companies, do not take SSL seriously.

BTW, I did reach out to MPC about this, but to date (about a week now), no response and no action.

So unless MPC does something – and sooner rather than later – when a future of Chrome is released, www.moving-picture.com will display a great big Not Secure message.

If you run a website, blog, or whatever it may be – for crying out loud – take a look at your site’s SSL functionality.  Do you even have one?  If not, why not?  Sort it out right away!

Update: It’s not just MPC that’s got an SSL problem – practically all other than perhaps two or three Soho-based VFX companies don’t have an SSL certificate, or if you attempt to load the site over SSL, uses an invalid common name (e.g. the certificate of another domain).  Chrome will be switching on the Not Secure flag in July when Chrome 68 is released.  We’re on Chrome 66 at the moment.  Time is counting down..

Update on the update: And home.bt.com is another culprit that doesn’t load over SSL by default, and if you try to force it, returns mixed content (e.g. it won’t load certain assets over SSL thus you might as well just treat the whole connection as insecure).  Man, this is crazy.  If telecoms companies aren’t doing the right thing by default.. 


For a later blog post: Is Google becoming too dominant?  Are Google’s new Gmail security tools proprietary, and will it eventually make existing email standards obsolete?  Will RFCs aka “internet standards” be a thing of the past?

In these insecure times, which is the better product: BitDefender Total Security or ESET’s Internet Security?

The answer is: it depends on the platform.

I found ESET’s Cybersecurity Pro/Cybersecurity/NOD32 to be cumbersome under MacOS.  On network drives and WebDAV volumes, the access to files and documents were excruciatingly slow.  Local scan times took an age too.  So I had to give up and head over to BitDefender’s Total Security for the Mac.  While not quite as complete as it is for Windows, this is by far the best solution for Mac users.  It’s fast, unobtrusive and gets the job done, though it is a pity BitDefender Central couldn’t tell the difference between two MacBook Pros. 🙁

ALAS!

The same cannot be said for the Windows version.  I’d just taken delivery of part one of my Dell/Alienware order – an Alienware mechanical keyboard (oh so clicky!) and as it features programmable keys and lighting, it triggered a software install.  BitDefender, without telling me, falsely declared the software to be malicious and quarantined everything.  I could get stuff back from quarantine, but couldn’t whitelist it – so the BitDefender is now gone from my Windows machine.  In its place is ESET Internet Security.

Now, on lower end Windows machines, I’ve found ESET’s Endpoint software to be a blight on system resources – especially if you configure regular scans.  But on my current quad-core Alienware R3 machine, ESET Internet Security just flies.  Scanning is still rather slow, but you can happily leave it running in the background without slowing things down. (Another reason for me to leave the MacBook/Mac arena and go back to the land of the Windows/Linux PC – it’s just too bloody expensive to get a decent and powerful CPU with Apple – trying to get a Mac under budget for work was nearly impossible and I had to limit myself to dual core.)

I do have access to Sophos Home Premium, but the biggest problem I’ve found with that is that it’s controlled almost entirely online.  Give me local controls.  I’ve found Sophos’ business products to be excellent (especially Intercept X and their Ransomware protection) – but far too costly and complicated for the consumer.