Intermittent SSL Handshake Errors

Maxim Dounin mdounin at
Wed Jul 15 16:09:27 UTC 2015


On Tue, Jul 14, 2015 at 09:58:52PM -0400, tempspace wrote:

> Here's what we've learned so far:
> The issue is related to a new security feature that blocks TLS Fallback,
> which is a client that connects with one version of TLS, then tries to
> downgrade the connection and connect with a lower TLS version.. It was a
> feature made in light of the Poodle SSL vulnerability in order to keep SSL
> secure. The problem is that many networking libraries still exhibit this
> behavior of downgrading TLS versions on purpose, which OpenSSL then blocks
> the connection.
> Specificially, the NSURLConnection class on iOS exhibits this behavior.
> NSURLSession, the latest iteration of this client, does not. The problem is,
> if you want to support iOS 6 still, you HAVE to use NSURLConnection. We
> decided to end support for iOS 6 because of this. NSURLConnection is also
> completely depracated in iOS 9, so if you want to support iOS 9, you'll have
> to upgrade your client library anyway.
> On Android, the same thing happened, but not as often and between different
> TLS versions. Switching to Square's Retrofit client for SSL purposes has
> worked really well for us.
> So, the real fix is to make sure you update your clients. If you're on a
> Debian wheezy box, you can make your own openssl package with the latest
> version, but with TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV support removed by following the
> directions below. Note, this is not recommended from a security perspective,
> but if your environment is broken, you need to do what you need to do. As
> long as SSL v3 is disabled, there's no big, active vulnerability in the wild
> that takes advantage of fallback at the moment.
> Setup dquilt as shown on
> Building Package:
> apt-get update ; apt-get source libssl1.0.0
> cd openssl-1.0.1e
> dquilt pop Support-TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV
> dquilt delete Support-TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV
> dpkg-source --commit
> dpkg-buildpackage
> The debian packages will be one directory back. Make sure to install the
> libssl packages you created, not just openssl, and nginx will need a restart
> to use the new library, not just a reload.
> I hope this helps someone, we spent a good amount of time on this.

Thanks for the info, appreciated.

Maxim Dounin

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