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From "Boyle Owen" <>
Subject RE: [users@httpd] SSL boot up
Date Mon, 05 May 2003 08:11:56 GMT
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Doug Groves []
>  Remove the encryption from the RSA private key
>...  Is this a method many people use?  I've
>never had the need for SSL the last time I installed Apache (a
>couple of years back).  Has anyone heard of any security exploit
>regarding this method?

You have to consider what is the point of encrypting the private key in
the first place. It has nothing to do with making the server more secure
*once it is running*. When the server starts, the private key is read
into memory and is just as safe as if the key had been unencrypted. The
SSL transactions are equally safe as well.

The reason for encrypting the key is to prevent someone who steals you
private key from starting a duplicate server. Imagine I managed to steal's private cert. I could set up a new server and then
impersonate amazon (OK - I'd need to fake DNS, hack routers etc as
well). The browser would be unable to tell that my fake server was not
genuine and user would happily give me all their money. However, if
amazon's key is encrypted, I would be unable to start my fake server
without the passphrase.

If you keep the cert readable only by root and on the server (which
should be pretty secure anyway). Then there is probably not much point
in encrypting it since no-one should be able to steal it.

Encrypting the cert is like fitting an immobiliser to your car - a thief
can break in, hot wire it but still can't start it.

Owen Boyle
Disclaimer: Any disclaimer attached to this message may be ignored. 

>The server I've set up includes SSL, although at the moment
>none of the hosts on it require SSL for financial transactions
>(just secure webmail access).
>Just wanted to get the opinions of people who know more than I
>do before I try it...
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