Re: [websec] default value for max-age ? (was: Re: Strict-Transport-Security syntax redux)

=JeffH <Jeff.Hodges@KingsMountain.com> Wed, 04 January 2012 18:02 UTC

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Subject: Re: [websec] default value for max-age ? (was: Re: Strict-Transport-Security syntax redux)
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Yoav Nir said..
 >
 > On Jan 3, 2012, at 1:29 AM, =JeffH wrote:
 >
 >> Julian wondered..
 >>>
 >>> wouldn't it make sense to have a default for max-age so it can be made
 >>> OPTIONAL?
 >>
 >> hm ... I lean towards keeping max-age as REQUIRED (without a default
 >> value) and thus hopefully encouraging deployers to think a bit about this
 >> and its ramifications, and also because its value is so site-specific in
 >> terms of a web application's needs, deployment approach, and tolerance for
 >> downside risk of breaking itself.
 >
 > I tend to agree, but it's not deployers who are going to do the thinking -
 > it's the implementers of web servers.
 >
 > So somewhere, in some control panel for IIS, or a config file for Apache, or
 > some WebUI for some SSL-VPN, there's going to be a configuration to turn on
 > HSTS, and that product is going to have a default max-age. The deployers are
 > just going to check the box.
 >
 > I think we should provide guidance for those implementers as to what is a
 > good default there.


Yep, very good point, thanks.


Adam Barth replied..
 >
 > On Tue, Jan 3, 2012 at 12:22 AM, Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de> wrote:
 >> On 2012-01-03 07:26, Yoav Nir wrote:
 >>>
 >>> On Jan 3, 2012, at 1:29 AM, =JeffH wrote:
 >>>
 >>>> Julian wondered..
 >>>>>
 >>>>>
 >>>>> wouldn't it make sense to have a default for max-age so it
 >>>>> can be made OPTIONAL?
 >>>>
 >>>>
 >>>> hm ... I lean towards keeping max-age as REQUIRED (without a default
 >>>> value) and
 >>>> thus hopefully encouraging deployers to think a bit about this and its
 >>>> ramifications, and also because its value is so site-specific in terms of
 >>>> a web
 >>>> application's needs, deployment approach, and tolerance for downside risk
 >>>> of
 >>>> breaking itself.
 >>>
 >>>
 >>> I tend to agree, but it's not deployers who are going to do the thinking -
 >>> it's the implementers of web servers.
 >>>
 >>> So somewhere, in some control panel for IIS, or a config file for Apache,
 >>> or some WebUI for some SSL-VPN, there's going to be a configuration to turn
 >>> on HSTS, and that product is going to have a default max-age. The deployers
 >>> are just going to check the box.
 >>>
 >>> I think we should provide guidance for those implementers as to what is a
 >>> good default there.
 >>> ...
 >>
 >>
 >> If we know a good default then it should be the default on the wire (IMHO).
 >> It would help getting predictable behavior when it's missing. (Right now the
 >> spec allows recipients to do anything they want then it's missing, right?)
 >
 > We should define the behavior in any case, which I guess means I'm
 > advocating an default max-age of zero.

Julian followed up..
 >
 > That sounds good to me; so the grammar wouldn't need to enforce this,
 > but the effect would be the same.

sounds fine to me too.

I have text in my working copy in (newly numbered section) "10.1.  HSTS Policy 
expiration time considerations" addressing the above.


And so did Tobias..
 >
 > well, the optimal default may actually be depending on the host.
 > So we might want to describe what good values might be under which
 > circumstances.
 > E.g. long time-spans when using very trusted process and provider,
 > shorter time-spans with less capable / higher risk of bricking yourself
 > / loosing your private key / ...

Yes, i've been thinking about such language and will add a stab at it to 
section 10.1.


=JeffH