Tag: Programming

Let the Facebook Object Debugger Into Staging

October 27, 2012 » Geek

One often important, and often overlooked aspect of modern web development is Open Graph tags. You know, those meta tags with weird attributes that break your page validation? That’s a whole other topic though.

Today, I want to talk about the Facebook Object Debugger, and giving it access to an HTTP Auth protected environment, such as a staging or pre-launch production site. This is Apache specific, so nginx fans will have to look elsewhere.

Assume you have this setup in your Apache config or htaccess;

The easiest way that I’ve found to make this work is to accept based on user agent. I originally tried allowing it based on IP address, but the debugger uses many IP addresses, and after I had added a half dozen I gave up and switched to user agent.

Be aware, that because of this, it’s quite easy for someone to fake their UA and gain access, so I recommend only using this code while you actively use the debugger, and turning it off afterwards. This also prevents leaks if someone pastes the URL into an actual Facebook comment.

Pretty easy!

Check out this page at AskApache for a nice guide to SetEnvIfNoCase.

Hashes Are Not *$&%@! Magic

September 27, 2012 » Geek

I’m going to get on a programming soapbox real quick and cover a topic that seems to confuse some people.

Hashes Are Not *$&%@! Magic

Some people seem to think that swapping out a secret with a hashed version of that secret makes it all safe and cozy, but that’s simply not true.

Yes, cryptographic hashes are a very important part of digital security, for a number of good reasons, but they have to be applied in a manner which takes the whole system into account.

The impetus for this work was a login integration I recently updated, because some other developer foolishly applied hashes.

Essentially, we were cross-posting a login form on one website to another. Nothing fancy. Ignore the lack of CSRF control.

The New Form

But the new form would need a change. Instead of sending the username and password, we would send the username, and an MD5 hash of the concatenation of username and password.

Now, I’m sure when this idea was implemented, it was sold as a way to authenticate the user, without exposing their password in plaintext (note that they don’t use SSL). Brilliant!

Yes, it does obscure the plaintext password, but it is not any more secure.

You see, they didn’t think about the system as a whole, they were just focused on obscuring the password.

All that happened here is a substitution of shared secrets.

Previously the server compared the username and password it has on file to what was sent in. Now it compares the username and the hashed password to what it has on file. Do you see what we did? We’ve simply swapped the secret of the plaintext password for the secret of the hashed password. I can still intercept your form submission over the wire and steal your credentials.

I don’t have to prove I know the password, I have to prove I know the secret.

Zero gain, and you’ve added complexity.

MD5, lol

As a bonus, they picked MD5, probably because it’s been implemented many times, there is a JavaScript version readily available, and it tends to be one of the first hashes people learn about, due to it’s age.

But MD5 is weak. And we have the salt, if you can call it that, in the username. An old 2Ghz P4 can try about 20 Million hashes a second, and throwing a modern GPU at it you can test several billion hashes a second. If we want the plaintext password, we can get it unless it is reasonably large (7+ characters) and fairly complex (at least one non-alphanumeric character).

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

For an extra thought, consider how they must be storing these passwords. Either there scheme has always been MD5(CONCAT(username,password)) or they are storing them in plaintext and are (hopefully) migrating to hashed.

Thursday Quote: Tony Hoare

June 7, 2012 » Geek

“There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, ampoule and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult.”

Tony Hoare

Hot Patching Python Objects

June 4, 2012 » Geek

Hot patching is a touchy issue, it’s often frowned upon, and rightly so. But sometimes it’s the easiest way to get what you want.

Usually in Python you would patch a class with a new method, which works fine. But what if you only wanted to patch a single instance of that class, and not all of them?

Turns out that’s pretty easy with the types library.

To use it you define your patch method as a regular function, then you call types.MethodType to properly bind it, and you are done!

Here is a simple example:


Thursday Quote: Simon Peyton Jones

May 31, 2012 » Geek

“The most depressing thing about life as a programmer, I think, is if you’re faced with a chunk of code that either someone else wrote or, worse still, you wrote yourself but no longer dare to modify. That’s depressing.”

– Simon Peyton Jones
Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming