Firewall pioneer wanted a 'super-secure' blogging service ... so he's built his own

Bill Cheswick doesn't want to let commercial blogging software within hacking distance of his hardened Web server

So, is blogging software insecure? How can this be? I am not sure about specific blogging solutions, but I do know from my sources that most Unix systems that are compromised these days are invaded through weaknesses in PHP and Web software. There is no excuse for this in my mind: We ought to be able to engineer robust solutions, perhaps requiring some limitations on capabilities.

So I need a blog, because good service requires RSS feeds. I could go to someplace like blogspot and leave it to others, but I want to understand the issues, and see if a strong solution can work with my strong Web browsing solution.

And it does, if I don't allow comments and other user-created stuff.

"Working securely" means that it meets a set of threats I have worried about for 20 years: invasion over the network from afar. I can (and have) made a list of the threats that I worry about. The assurance level I require is higher than most people. Am I just overly frightened, or eager not to have to clean up the mess?

I think there is a need for super-secure services of all sorts, if they can be managed. And we aren't doing very well right now, except perhaps in the financial and commercial online access area. I discussed "super-secure" blogging with other security friends at Usenix Security last weekend, the likes of Steve Bellovin, Matt Blaze, and Ed Felton. We all care about super-secure services, and each tends to build our own. Most solutions were similar to mine.

As a writer, you probably need a user comment area, so the solution you use is going to be more dangerous. But you would probably just have the IT department fix the problem, and move on if you got defaced.

I want a strong level of security confidence, born of simplicity, easy auditablity, and layers to protect my services, so I can think about other things.

One example: There was an openssl security hole revealed about five years ago. Though the hole would allow someone to spoof my Web server, it was jailed, and the server was safe. I assume that the software I use is insecure. Everyone should be engineering solutions that make this assumption.

Browsers and mail readers are unlikely to ever be secure: They require too much functionality. We propeller-heads have to engineer containers to make these safe to use.

So, the fruits of this labor are two: one, a working blog, and two, a set of notes suitable to instruct the curious on how to replicate the arrangement.

Spoken like a true propeller-head.

By the way, the bloom appears to be off Cheswick's iPhone infatuation, witness this "My iPhone Sucks" rant of his posted yesterday with his new super-secure blogging set-up. "Little did I know that an update was a few hours away," he tells me this morning. "I haven't played with it enough to see if they fixed it."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Paul McNamara

Network World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?