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Re: [alpine-devel] What could be done to make Alpine distribution more secure

From: Der Tiger <>
Date: Mon, 22 Feb 2016 19:19:54 +0100

Hi Alba,

> I'll start with the obvious HTTPS support. The download links on
> all point to a HTTP link.
Going SSL won't give the downloader any relevant additional security,
since the connection between the server and the downloading client isn't
a likely point of attack. Such a Man in the Middle attack is far too
much effort only to corrupt the transferred ISO image. It is much easier
to take the same approach the Mint hackers took, and attack the website,
directly. SSL won't help your there.

To make the website hacking-proof, the entire content would have to be
on a physically read-only medium (e.g. DVD-R), but I doubt any admin to
be willing to handle such hassle.

> The certificate is only valid for the following names:
The Alpine website uses several sub-domains and the certificate would
therefore have to be a wildcard certificate in order to be valid on all
sub-levels. Those wildcard certificates are considerably more expensive
than any generic certificate.

> HTTPS Everywhere installed. Shouldn't it always be preferred?
Only, if you can trust the server certificate and you want to transfer
data, that would give any listener valuable information. SSL does
neither hide your IP address, nor your connection state. Surfing the
Alpine website and downloading an Alpine ISO hardly counts as valuable

SSL only hides (too some degree) the information inside the connection,
but not the connection itself. To accomplish a fully encrypted
connection, you need tools like VPN. Furthermore, most certificates can
be faked, spoofed and even most certificate authorities (CA) are not to
be trusted, if it comes to critical data. The entire certificate system
has already collapsed due to the system requiring all CAs to be
trustworthy. If one CA fails, the entire system falls apart. And today,
there are more untrustworthy CAs than trustworthy ones.

Offering checksums to every downloaded file does only verify the file's
consistency with the original file, but does not prevent any tampering
with the files stored on the server. Because, lets face it, if someone
is able to hack the website and replaces the downloadable files, he/she
is certainly qualified to modify the online displayed checksums,

The only way known to me to ensure the file contents validity is to
offline encrypt the file with a private key and hardcode the public
de-cryption key into the static part of the website. Any modifications
to the file alone lets the de-cryption fail, while the public key can't
be modified without locally accessing the web sever.



Received on Mon Feb 22 2016 - 19:19:54 UTC