back to article Alert: Let's Encrypt to revoke about 2 million HTTPS certificates in two days

Let's Encrypt, a non-profit organization that helps people obtain free SSL/TLS certificates for websites, plans to revoke a non-trivial number of its certs on Friday because they were improperly issued. In a post to the Let's Encrypt discussion community forum, site reliability engineer Jillian explained that on Tuesday, a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would be really nice

    if Let's Encrypt could extend the default life of their Certs from 90 Days to a full Year.

    1. FILE_ID.DIZ

      Re: Would be really nice

      Wouldn't help in this case, as these certificates were revoked due to a technical reason and not due to their 90 day lifecycle.

      Still love as a company gets bigger (not actually), the more they lean on estimated percentages a fatal flaw caused than the raw victim count.

      It's like saying only 15% of the US population (excluding the Canadian side) experienced a power outage in August 2003.

      Hell, that'd be like saying that a population slightly larger than California, Colorado and Connecticut lost power... just 3/50th of the states...

      1. NoneSuch Silver badge

        Re: Would be really nice

        Let's Encrypt certs have a duration less than the half-life of Fermium.

        All they have to do is wait and the problematic certs will be replaced.

        LE certs are a great idea, but the 90 day time span is just silly.

        1. Pascal

          Re: Would be really nice

          90 days was chosen for a couple reasons.

          One of which was to force automation.

          With 1 year certificates, inertia would have caused LE certs to be managed by hand as a majority of certs from old CAs are. 90 days, nobody goes live with that before automating them.

          The other one is stated as "They limit damage from key compromise and **mis-issuance**".

          Which ties in real well with the current situation: why not let them expire?

          1. Zola

            Re: Would be really nice

            Exactly. With automated cert renewal (certbot) the 90 day limit really isn't an issue - in fact it could be reduced further and I wouldn't give a toss as my LE certs reliably auto renew just fine (HTTP-01 challenge, so unaffected by this revoke issue).

    2. MJB7

      Re: Would be really nice

      Even better if they _reduced_ the default (and maximum) lifetime to 5 days. This would have several effects:

      - Firstly, they wouldn't have to do anything in order to meet their five day deadline (because all the affected certificates would expire anyway.

      - Secondly, even lazy verifiers that don't bother checking the CRL/OCSP will pick up the cancellation.

      - Thirdly, _everybody_ would have to automate their certificate renewals (like you should anyway, but the automation may not handle an out-of-cycle renewal).

      The only downsides I can see are:

      - Let's Encrypt would need a _lot_ more servers. (Renewing every ?3? days instead of every ?80? is an almost 30-fold increase). (But they don't need to support CRL or OCSP.)

      - If someone could take Let's Encrypt offline for a few days, it would wipe out a large chunk of the web.

      1. DJohnson

        Re: Would be really nice

        GAH, no, please no! An organization I support is behind a cable modem, and due to ISP-enforced port limits the only approach I can currently use is the DNS verification. The DNS provider has no provision for automating the record update so I have to do this manually. I'm probably not the only one who does NOT need yet another weekly critical-to-someone task.

        1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

          Re: Would be really nice

          I sympathise, but it is probably about time to move your client's cert issuing to a cheap cloud server with the org behind the cable modem pulling the new certificate down when it is updated. In fact, it could be a free-tier AWS instance as it only needs to run a few minutes a month.

          While you are about it - maybe move their DNS to a hoster who supports ACME - no need to change the registration just change the nameserver delegation.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Would be really nice

            Home users running free DuckDNS style DNS's don't need a middle-man, ACME works right out of the box. But, does LetsEncrypt work without ALPN-01 in this case? I really don't know. All my VPS's are setup in places that this doesn't matter, but for people hosting from home or at least along the lines of more independent state this could be an issue.

            I really don't know a lot about all of this (obviously), but I do know that some home users can not validate across common ports (80/443) so they resort to ALPN (which at one point 'certbot' did NOT support... directly).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Would be really nice

      There are good reasons why they chose such lifetime and automatic renewal for free certificates issued on the spot. And you have an automatic renewal mechanism that can easily avoid expired ones.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Would be really nice

        "...can easily avoid expired ones."

        Can't lie, a couple years back it took me a lot longer than I'd admit to setup a shared cert between 2 dockers :-/ (one web, the other mail which didn't like the same filename OR symlinks so the cp/mv operations at renewal time were... finicky/race-condition'icky.). Me no good computers :-/

    4. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: Would be really nice

      Nope, the whole idea is to get certificates automated. A full year would lead to a lot of people renewing manually and forgetting to do so.

      90 days is a reasonable compromise where if you are unable to fully automate it you can deal with it manually, with some hassle.

      30 days would be better as old certificates would become invalid much quicker.

      Shorter periods than that would become burdensome.

      As an example, I have a system set up where certificates are acquired on one server, then transferred to another in a backup cycle. The backup server then checks for newer certs and applies them some time later. Currently that process can take 2+ days (assuming the backup is successful). Yes I could streamline that process, but for policy reasons the destination server cannot renew itself.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Would be really nice

        Ah, so it's one of those irregular verbs? "I cannot improve this process for policy reasons, you find the cost/benefit tradeoff disfavourable, they are a lazy git and a threat to internet security."

        1. DavidRa

          Re: Would be really nice

          Thank you Bernard, that will be quite enough.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Would be really nice

        Because the certs are free, there are also a larger number of people requesting them without really good certificate and especially key management (not that those paying are often more careful, but there are less because of the money involved) - with a longer validity there could be large number of abandoned or compromised certificates still valid. This way they aren't valid for too long unless one doesn't keep on renewing them.

    5. Peter 26

      Re: Would be really nice

      I completely disagree. The aim is to force automation and it works.

      I have had warnings that my certificates would fail soon and I then have to go and figure out which my automation isn't working. I hate working dealing with certificates and figuring out why certbot isn't working. I have performed a manual refresh before just to get past the issue. But the second time it happens 90 days later, you do something about it.

      I guarantee if it was a year, I wouldn't bother trying to fix it.

  2. dafe

    Let's cert pin

    I didn't know that OIDs are used for anything other than SNMP.

    Why isn't certificate pinning the default? Why can't I use my old self-signed certificate to sign my new self-signed certificate? There is no technical reason, it is just not part of X.500. Is it because CAs are an important backdoor that certificate pinning would close?

    Or is trust on first use (which most people do all the time with SSH) perceived as the bigger threat? That doesn't explain why Apple's app store doesn't allow it for user apps though.

    1. Pascal

      Re: Let's cert pin

      Don't pin the certificate, pin the CA.

      Death to HPKP!

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like