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From "Boyle Owen" <>
Subject RE: [users@httpd] Stop Apache from reporting version number anywhere..
Date Mon, 26 Jan 2004 10:51:34 GMT
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Colm MacCarthaigh []
> Sent: Montag, 26. Januar 2004 11:38
> To:
> Subject: Re: [users@httpd] Stop Apache from reporting version number
> anywhere..
> On Mon, Jan 26, 2004 at 11:00:23AM +0100, Boyle Owen wrote:
> > - The "token senders" have known all about the server 
> signature thing
> > for a long time and understand its purpose, which is to help the
> > internet remain a "community". When you advertise your 
> server signature,
> > you allow people like the W3C, ICAN etc to collect 
> statistics on who's
> > using what servers and at what version. This is useful 
> information and
> > helps the web to evolve.
> I don't think this is about ICANN and the W3C at all - they don't 
> even do large-scale surveys, I think netcraft are the only people 
> who do these days. It's not about old fogeys remembering the good
> old days of openness and cooperation, it's must more pragmatic and
> practical than that.

I think we're singing off the same hymn-sheet... Most of the Hiders say
"what harm is there in me hiding my signature anyway?" I was trying to,
OTTOMH, think of a couple of reasons why its useful to broadcast it.
You've just given a couple of very good ones, which I will store away
for the next time this question comes up (as it surely wil). 

As for old fogeys, I once telnetted from a bedroom in Ipswich to an OS/9
crate controller in CERN: en clair, all the way... Firewalls? Luxury. We
used to dream of firewalls... 

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

> Server signatures are once of the most positive useful 
> security resources, 
> they are a tool which allows you to collect information and 
> statistics 
> about what's on your own network. I'm a member of a 
> reasonably large NOC, 
> and personally maintain dozens of webservers, within our 
> whole network 
> we're easily into the thousands of webservers.
> When a vulnerability is found, we can quickly identify which of our
> machines need upgrading, and give clients an idea of what 
> machines they
> need to look at - because I can easily automate connecting to them all
> and finding out what they're running.
> If someone obfuscates their banner, we lose that easy ability, and I'm
> not going to the trouble of writing a whisker implementation 
> - if someone
> is hiding their Server signature - I'm assuming they don't want me to
> know what it's running (despite how trivial it is to find out anyway)
> and hence don't want the benifits of an advance warning.
> Server signatures are great security resources. Turning them off has
> entirely negative consequences, ranging from the above to the 
> very human
> tendancy to put off an upgrade becase you've "already taken 
> care of that,
> they won't find it for now".
> There is simply no reliable way to hide the server your running, it
> can't be done. HTTP is a complex protocol with literally billions of
> permutations of responses, header orderings, error documents, 
> directory
> indexes, escape sequencing and plain old bugs. There will always a way
> to fingerprint a server, and noone has ever managed to make 
> two versions
> behave exactly alike (then why would there be another version?).
> Personally I'm in favour of implementing an option in Apache 
> to obfuscate
> signatures. It comes up so often, and so many people patch it 
> in anyway
> that it hardly seems worth not affording people the choice. 
> But frankly,
> anyone who obfuscates their Server Signature is simply 
> displaying their
> ignorance and niavety, for very real-world important reasons.
> -- 
> Colm MacCárthaigh                        Public Key: 
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