How to set the preferred cipher suite on Apache 2.2.x and Apache 2.4.x Reverse Proxy

how-to-set-the-preferred-default-delivered-ssl-cipher-suite-apache-2.2-apache-2.4-how-ssl-handshake-works

1. Change default Apache (Reverse Proxy) SSL client cipher suite to end customer for Android Mobile applications to work

If you're a sys admin like me and you need  to support client environments with multiple Reverse Proxy Apache servers include old ones Apache version 2.2.x (with mod_ssl compiled in Apache or enabled as external module)
and for that reason a certain specific Apache Reverse Proxy certificate SSL encoding cipher default served suite change to be TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA in order for the application to properly communicate with the server backend application then this article might help you.

There is an end user client application which is Live on a production servers some of which running on  backend WebSphere Application Servers (WAS) / SAP /  Tomcat servers and for security and logging purposes the traffic is being forwarded from the Apache Reverse Proxies (whose traffic is incoming from a roundup Load Balancers).

Here is a short background history of why cipher suite change is necessery?

The application worked fine and was used by a desktop PCs, however since recently there is an existent Android and Apple Store (iOS) mobile phone application and the Android Applications are unable to properly handle the default served Apache Reverse Proxy cipher suite and which forced the client to ask for change in the default SSL cipher suite to:

TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA

By default, the way the client lists the cipher suites within its Client Hello will influence on Apache the selection of the cipher suite used between the client and server.

The current httpd.conf in Apache is configured so the ciphers for RP client cipher suite Hello transferred between Reverse Proxy -> Client are being provided in the following order:

 

1.    TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_MD5
2.    TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_SHA
3.    TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_CBC_SHA
4.    TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA


This has to be inverted so:

4. TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA
becomes on the place of
1. TLS_RSA_WITH_RC4_128_MD5


A very good reading that helped me achieve the task as usual was Apache's official documentation about mod_ssl see here


So to fix the SSL/TLS cipher suite default served order use SSLCipherSuite and SSLHonorCipherOrder directives.

 

SSLCipherSuite directive is used to specify the cipher suites enabled on the server.
To dictate also  preferred cipher suite order directive and that's why you need SSLHonorCipherOrder directive (note that this is not available for older  Apache 2.x branch), the original bug for this directive can be seen within
 

For Example:

 

 

SSLHonorCipherOrder On
SSLCipherSuite RC4-SHA:AES128-SHA:AES256-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:DES-CBC3-SHA

 

 

 

So here is my fix for changing the Ciphersuite SSL Crypt order (notice the TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA being given as first argument):

 

SSLHonorCipherOrder On
SSLCipherSuite TLS_DHE_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA:RC4-SHA:AES128-SHA:AES256-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:DES-CBC3-SHA

if you want also to enable TLSv1.2 certificate cipher support you can use also:
 

SSLProtocol -all +TLSv1.2

SSLHonorCipherOrder on

 

# Old Commented configuration from my httpd.conf – no RC4, 3DES allowed
#SSLCipherSuite "EECDH+ECDSA+AESGCM EECDH+aRSA+AESGCM EECDH+ECDSA+SHA384 EECDH+ECDSA+SHA256 EECDH+aRSA+SHA384 EECDH+aRSA+SHA256 EECDH+aRSA+RC4 EECDH EDH+aRSA 3DES-EDE-CBC-SHA RC4 !aNULL !eNULL !LOW !MD5 !EXP !PSK !SRP !DSS !RC4"

 

Because there was also requirement for a multiple of SSL cipher encryption (to support large range of both mobile and desktop computers and operating systems the final) cipher suite configuration in httpd.conf that worked for the client looked like so:
 

SSLCipherSuite ECDHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:DHE-DSS-AES128-GCM-SHA256:kEDH+AESGCM:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-SHA256:ECDHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES128-SHA:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-SHA384:ECDHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:ECDHE-ECDSA-AES256-SHA:DHE-DSS-AES128-SHA256:DHE-DSS-AES256-SHA:AES128-GCM-SHA256:AES256-GCM-SHA384:AES128-SHA:AES256-SHA:AES:CAMELLIA:DES-CBC3-SHA:!aNULL:!eNULL:!EXPORT:!DES:!RC4:!MD5:!PSK:!aECDH:!EDH-DSS-DES-CBC3-SHA:!EDH-RSA-DES-CBC3-SHA:!KRB5-DES-CBC3-SHA:!DHE-RSA-AES128-GCM-SHA256:!DHE-RSA-AES256-GCM-SHA384:!DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA256:!DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA:!DHE-RSA-AES128-SHA:!DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA256:!DHE-RSA-CAMELLIA128-SHA:!DHE-RSA-CAMELLIA256-SHA

 


Once this was done the customer requested HTTP cookie restriction to be added to the same virtual host.
There initial request was to:

2. Set HTTP cookie secure flag and HttpOnly on every cookie that is not being accessed from Internal website JavaScript code

To make Apache Reverse Proxy to behave that way here is the httpd.conf config added to httpd.conf
 

# vim httpd.conf

 

   #Header edit Set-Cookie ^(.*)$ $1;HttpOnly;Secure
   Header always edit Set-Cookie ^(.*)$ $1;HttpOnly;Secure

Finally an Apache restart was necessery

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