Configuring SSL

This document discusses security layers that can be implemented on top of the TACTIC service.

Services covered

  • Apache HTTP server

  • IIS HTTP server

  • PPTP server

  • IPsec

Southpaw Technology does not provide any support, either direct or implied, for remote access.

Any application that is put on a public network can potentially be compromised, even with rigorous security testing. TACTIC, in its current version, has not been production tested for security scenarios outside of completely trusted networks like intranets. This document does not make any claims that TACTIC has any level of security beyond what its current architecture design allows.

TACTIC is a bandwidth-intensive application, and client-server performance will be affected by any number of network issues between the client and the server.

There are numerous elements of functionality that go beyond utilizing HTTP port access in enterprise applications of TACTIC. Many 3rd party applications that communicate with TACTIC will produce unexpected behavior when utilized in a fashion that was not intended for the product, such as use in remote applications.

TACTIC on public networks

HTTP transport co-services can be configured to provide authentication services to TACTIC.

HTTP zone access

The simplest form of HTTP security authentication zone access. To enable different security scenarios, the HTTP service must be configured for use of these scenarios. Configuration files (usually called .htaccess files) contain a number of settings that can be used for integrating the application with the capabilities of the Web server.

When enabling password zone access, the password is transmitted to the server in cleartext, unless TLS is enabled.


Apache uses either directives for directory access in the httpd.conf file, or can be enabled on a per-directory basis, with the use of a .htaccess file. Either way can be used. Apache provides modules for LDAP, MySQL, flat-file, ADS, and many other authentication mechanisms.


IIS can be configured at the top level through the IIS snap-in, or by individual configuration file. IIS 7 uses a file called Web.config to hold settings for integration with applications. The Web.config file contains information that control module loading, security configuration, session state configuration, and application language and compilation settings.



TACTIC can be configured to use the SSL transport layer. This layer is independent of the TACTIC service, and can be tailored to the needs of the deployment without major changes to the TACTIC service.

Both major HTTP servers can be configured for SSL support. There are many materials online available for configuration of the various flavors of these two major HTTP service projects.

Since there are many different versions of these servers, a simple search of Windows 2003 IIS SSL as an example will yield many HOWTOs and configuration references. Please consult the documentation for these services.

The configuration examples that have been set out below are by no means complete. Depending on the HTTP service used, and the platform used, these examples may not be enough set directives or steps to properly complete the SSL process. They are given as guides.


The major steps to utilizing SSL in with TACTIC are

  • Enabling TACTIC to converse with SSL

  • Enabling the SSL service

  • Creating a Virtual Server, or extending the existing server to accept SSL

  • Providing CA certificates

TACTIC configuration

The SSL HTTP layer is kept separate from TACTIC via a proxy, so the only configuration change required of TACTIC is in the tactic_(OS).conf file. The <security><protocol> directive must tell TACTIC to expect an SSL delivery.


The setting can be set to either "http" or "https".


The apache project uses mod_ssl as a modular way of inserting SSL capabilities into the HTTP service.

The example OS is Fedora 11. "Yum" is used to add SSL to apache.

[root@lindsay conf.d]# yum install mod_ssl
Loaded plugins: refresh-packagekit

[root@lindsay conf.d]#

Once mod_ssl is added, the Apache configuration should contain at least these directives. The example directives are contained in conf.d/ssl.conf in the Fedora 11 example. File locations will vary according to OS.

LoadModule ssl_module modules/
Listen 443

SSLPassPhraseDialog  builtin
SSLSessionCache         shmcb:/var/cache/mod_ssl/scache(512000)
SSLSessionCacheTimeout  300
SSLMutex default
SSLRandomSeed startup file:/dev/urandom  256
SSLRandomSeed connect builtin
SSLCryptoDevice builtin
<VirtualHost _default_:443>
SSLEngine on
SSLProtocol all -SSLv2
SLCertificateFile /etc/pki/tls/certs/localhost.crt
SSLCertificateFile /etc/pki/tls/certs/localhost.crt
SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/pki/tls/private/localhost.key

As soon as its added and the server is restarted, the SSL service becomes available on the network interface that apache is running on.


IIS can be configured at the top level through the IIS snap-in, or by individual configuration file.

To configure SSL on a Web server or a Web site,

  1. In IIS Manager, double-click the local computer, and then double-click the Web Sites folder.
  2. Right-click the Web site or file that you want to protect with SSL, and then click Properties.
  3. Under Web site identification click Advanced.
  4. In the Advanced Web site identification box, under Multiple identities for this Web site, verify that the Web site IP address is assigned to port 443, the default port for secure communications, and then click OK. Optionally, to configure more SSL ports for this Web site, click Add under Multiple identities of this Web site, and then click OK.
  5. On the Directory Security or File Security tab, under Secure communications, click Edit.
  6. In the Secure Communications box, select the Require secure channel (SSL) check box.
  7. To enable SSL client certificate authentication and mapping features, select the Enable client certificate mapping check box, click Edit, add the 1-to-1 or many-to-1 mappings you need, and then click OK three times.

Secure transaction processing

Processing transactions securely on the web means that there is a need to be able to transmit information between the web site and the customer in a manner that makes it difficult for other people to intercept and read. SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, takes care of this. It works through a combination of programs and encryption/decryption routines that exist on the web services host, and in browser programs (like Firefox and Internet Explorer)


TLS has encryption/decryption routines as part of its security. These routines can be bandwidth/CPU intensive. Any usage of TLS can compromise TACTIC, if the routines are incorporated into the same host as the TACTIC service. See guides on load-balancing for details on offsetting this.


A VPN will provide the most trouble-free access to TACTIC remotely. In this scenario, the authentication/encryption routines are completely removed from the realm of TACTIC configuration. This not only helps to isolate TACTIC from complex configuration issues, but also allows for isolated troubleshooting of remote access issues.


PPTP is Microsoft supplied product. If an enterprise deployment of TACTIC includes ADS authentication, then PPTP can be used as the VPN transport layer. Usually, deployment is quite easily done. In PPTP, usernames and passwords are used to complete the VPN link. PPTP can be considered the "road-warrior" VPN, meaning that it is easily deployed to users.


Ipsec is a suite of protocols used to secure data between hosts. A VPN can be transported on top of this protocol. Typically, two remote hosts are configured to communicate with each other, such as routers. This type of VPN is typically used to connect two offices together.

Hardware VPNs

Hardware VPNs such as offerings provided by companies like Cisco, can be easily implemented. These Systems are designed for minimal ramp-up, and can be implemented quickly.

Security Terms


“is a form of active eavesdropping in which the attacker makes independent connections with the victims and relays messages between them, making them believe that they are talking directly to each other over a private connection, when in fact the entire conversation is controlled by the attacker. The attacker must be able to intercept all messages going between the two victims and inject new ones, which is straightforward in many circumstances (for example, an attacker within reception range of an unencrypted Wi-Fi wireless access point, can insert himself as a man-in-the-middle).

SSL (Wikipedia)

“Transport Layer Security (TLS) and its predecessor, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), are cryptographic protocols that provide security for communications over networks such as the Internet. TLS and SSL encrypt the segments of network connections at the Transport Layer end-to-end.

Cleartext (Wikipedia)

Cleartext is transmitted, unencrypted text.

“In a cryptosystem, weaknesses can be introduced through insecure handling of plaintext, allowing an attacker to bypass the cryptography altogether. Plaintext is vulnerable in use and in storage, whether in electronic or paper format. “

PPTP (wikipedia)

The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) is a method for implementing virtual private networks. PPTP uses a control channel over TCP and a GRE tunnel operating to encapsulate PPP packets.

The PPTP specification does not describe encryption or authentication features and relies on the PPP protocol being tunneled to implement security functionality. However the most common PPTP implementation, shipping with the Microsoft Windows product families, implements various levels of authentication and encryption natively as standard features of the Windows PPTP stack. The intended use of this protocol is to provide similar levels of security and remote access as typical VPN products.

IPSEC (Wikipedia)

Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) is a protocol suite for securing Internet Protocol (IP) communications by authenticating and encrypting each IP packet of a data stream. IPsec also includes protocols for establishing mutual authentication between agents at the beginning of the session and negotiation of cryptographic keys to be used during the session. IPsec can be used to protect data flows between a pair of hosts (e.g. computer users or servers), between a pair of security gateways (e.g. routers or firewalls), or between a security gateway and a host.