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Author Topic:   SSL HTTPS certificate advice please
Scott Martin
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Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 03-31-2017 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The tech side of running the forums keeps evolving ...

At the same time our ISP's (Earthlink) ability give us good support narrows.

As you are aware, we try to keep things for our users private. So when the ISP started injecting spyware/tracking into our SS forum HTML web pages, we figured out how to defeat it.

For the sites that are dealing with financial transactions then SSL HTTPS certificate support/deployment is real important. We don't do those types of transactions here. Now search engines like Google and web browsers warn you if the site you are visiting is not SSL HTTPS certificate secure.

To add an additional layer of protection for our users, we would like to deploy SSL HTTPS certificate support at SMPub/SSF. For the SMPub side of things, deployment of SSL won't be a problem. But for the SSF it remains unclear.

Recently you may have seen some "500" errors when visiting the SSF. In testing SSL HTTPS certificate deployment we have broken the SFF more than once. Since we keep good backups, the fix was quick.

Our ISP has devolved into a "one size fits all" overseas support structure. In the past there were escalation procedures.... now there isn't.

Its easy to say "then find another ISP/hosting platform" and we might. But changing ISP's may also make things worse.

When SMPub/SSF is compared to other sites with all the "eye candy" "wiz bang" latest tech, the SMPub/SSF is a very simply web site.

We want to deploy SSL HTTPS certificate support for our users but we are not getting good ISP support to fully understand the issues relating to deploying SSL HTTPS certificates. We don't understand why the SSF keeps breaking with SSL HTTPS certificate testing.

If you have first hand back office technical experience with SSL HTTPS certificate deployment we could use some advice.

Thanks in advance.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 04-04-2017 06:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We are still try to figure the SSL thing out ... thus far no joy.

While we are waiting for the techs ... We have begun a project of finding the broken links & images at the SSF. There are hundreds.... links and images disappear from the Internet. Often we have pre-saved the images, so it just a matter of finding, uploading and changing the URL.

its going slow ....

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 04-17-2017 12:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
We have begun a project of finding the broken links & images at the SSF. There are hundreds.... links and images disappear from the Internet. Often we have pre-saved the images, so it just a matter of finding, uploading and changing the URL.

its going slow ....


We fixed several thousand (3500+) broken images and links as as well as the redirected links.

If you still see a problem please let us know.


The SSL issues remain un-addressed.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 04-17-2017 01:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the forums we have also upgraded 11,577 HTML threads and re-indexed all forums.

This round of forum maintenance is complete!

Back to the SSL question/issues.

If you have first hand back office technical experience with SSL HTTPS certificate deployment we could use some advice.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 08-05-2017 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Scott Martin:
If you have first hand back office technical experience with SSL HTTPS certificate deployment we could use some advice.

We never got any advice nor have we found anyone (affordable) to help guide us.

We really do believe upgrading to a SSL HTTPS certificate would be good. For everything other than the Silver Salon Forums it looks trivial.

Now its looking like our only choice is to just do it and then start the process of discovering what it broke at the Silver Salon Forums and how to fix it.

We are still trying to figure out best type of SSL HTTPS certificate to pay for, how to best implement same, the changes required to the Silver Salon Forums code, the required .htaccess changes and when it would be best for everyone to attempt this?????????

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Polly

Posts: 1765
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 08-05-2017 05:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As an IT ignoramus, all I can say is thank you and good luck. I know I'm speaking for a huge number of us when I say we really appreciate your work on this wonderful site, Scott.

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seaduck

Posts: 327
Registered: Dec 2006

iconnumber posted 08-06-2017 01:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for seaduck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just want to echo Polly's sentiments....We hope you know how much we appreciate all your work, Scott. Silence doesn't mean apathy. In this case (speaking for myself), it means ignorance!
Good luck.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 08-09-2017 03:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Polly and Seaduck. smile

I expect we are getting closer to crafting a deployment/implementation plan.

This may require a day or two of the Silver Salon Forums being offline.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 08-28-2017 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Our ISP support hasn't been helpful. Their offshore support wants to help but the English they speak isn't the same as our American English. So when they say they understand they don't. And they really don't like explaining what it is they think they understand with any detail. And they want to narrow everything until it fits the most narrowest of frameworks. We need all to have the big picture view before addressing individual narrow issues and this they can't seem to do.

A friend of the SSF suggested their New Delhi partners which had us hopeful but it played out the same as above. We really believe they want to help but the language issues and the non-American culture just doesn't work.

We have reached out to one more resource but aren't expecting much.

SO, we need to get the entire web site running on SSL.... Our testing of things shows there are new issues near every time we test. And nearly none of the issues were explained/suggested/anticipated by the support personnel in advance. And they have trouble explaining why.

The transition to SMP/SSF WEB site wide SSL looks like its going to be a slow TRIAL & ERROR process by us without any truly knowledgeable help involved.

For the majority of the SMP static web pages the change over looks like it should go pretty smoothly. For the dynamically created SSF web pages its just not that clear. We aren't sure if the actual SSF program need to be changed/rewritten. And won't know until we run into a problem.

When we move forward with this transition project, it is unclear whether it will take a lot of time/effort or not.

We will announce (soon) the official start of the transition. The Silver Salon Forums will be intermittently opened/closed as we test things and learn how to fix any found issue's.

We are hoping this will go smoothly but just don't know.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 09-02-2017 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We were going to start the SSL upgrade this weekend but ran into another unexpected issue.

Since we haven't found any good sources for advice/guidance............ and I am running of of patience................

I am fearful that we are really going to break the Forums and that the fix will require some reverse engineering of the Perl/CGI and this could take some time.

I don't expect everyone will be regularly checking in for more than a few days so once things are back up we will do a email notification.

Please make sure we have your current email address. Check it at Modify Your Profile

Thanks

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 09-02-2017 06:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am sorry you are having so much bother with issues that are completely over my head. You know your effort on behalf of the forums is greatly appreciated.

I cannot offer any help but I have at least checked that you have the right email address for me!

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 09-02-2017 07:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to everyone who regularly posts for your efforts and support.

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ahwt

Posts: 1923
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 09-02-2017 07:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to you Scott for hosting such a great site. I wish I knew something about SSL HTTPS certificates, but I really do not.
Our global economy really does point out the need for knowing more than one language and I suspect it has opened up many new fields of endeavor for those that do.
I did check my email and it is correct.

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 09-03-2017 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought we we going to start the SSL upgrade today but the ISP and the certificate issuer could NOT get happy with each others work product. So we are back to re-figuring things out again.

So the forums are up until there is a new plan.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 09-15-2017 11:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We still don't have this resolved but we are progressing. smile

We now have another duplicate (mirror) web site which we will use to learn/test things until we get it right.

One of the benefits is that the all the non-forum static SMP pages and any SSF static pages will be updated to the latest standard of HTML5.

After the SMP portions we will consider reverse engineering the SSF Perl/CGI code so that the SSF is more HTML5 compliant.

When the above upgrades are stable we will implement the SSL and then re-verify that the upgrades remain stable under SSL.

This is a learning/"trial & error" process......

At some point we will be asking for a few volunteers to see if they can break the mirrored site.


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DMatADC

Posts: 12
Registered: Sep 2017

iconnumber posted 09-20-2017 05:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DMatADC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi: This may or may not be helpful, but with my artdesigncafe website, it was quick and easy for my tech support guy to redirect http -> https for all of the web pages in one go. However, there are no transaction pages on the site nor is there a forum. Going in with a change, it can sometimes be hard to predict what is quick and easy and more complicated.

If / when you are looking for new hosting and tech support, sureserver was brilliant and apparently a techie favorite. I unfortunately had to leave them because they were moving their EU servers from Germany to Bulgaria. I recall they have a US server location. They didn't offer telephone support but very highly professional email support and the site performance was consistently strong.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 09-20-2017 10:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for the suggestions.

You are correct, the act of turning on SSL is extremely simple. Our site which has evolved since 1993 has been made with a variety of legacy technologies.

We want to affect the transition to SSL without major user interruption. Our preliminary testing showed that SSL was going to break stuff. And noticing what was broken was not immediately obvious and then the fix wasn't trivial.

We don't have an exact count but SMP/SSF has over 15,000 HTML web pages. And then there is all the Perl/CGI/SQL and other coding stuff. This makes for nearly 20 gig of files/data.

The separate/parallel site we have set up is progressing nicely. smile We estimate we are a third of the way through upgrading the SMP static web pages to HTML5. Once this is completed, we will then tackle the SSF Perl/CGI code testing.

Perl/CGI legacy code generates much of the SSF HTML web pages. If SSL continues to break the forums, then we have to ID what is broke, determine what/how/why, and then reverse engineer the Perl/CGI legacy code to hack in a fix.

We are only going to upgrade the portions of the SSF Perl/CGI legacy code to HTML5 which are required to allow the SSF to continue to function under SSL.

Someday, we may reverse engineer all the Perl/CGI legacy code and upgrade it to HTML5. We wouldn't be going though all this if there was an easy way to transition the existing SSF data into a newer forum platform. There isn't and we don't want to loose our history.


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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 09-27-2017 08:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
    Status report

Things are progressing. The majority of the static SMP HTML pages have been updated to HTML5 and they have been updated to the SMP site. If you see anything that needs a second look, please let me know.
After some SMP testing/review, we will next start testing the SSF program on the mirrored site.

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 10-05-2017 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We are getting closer...

Today we upgraded some of the forums' old HTML (not anything with CGI/Perl) to HTML5.

Hopefully we didn't mess anything up....Let us know.

Thanks

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11082
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 11-19-2017 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since the new hosting project is completed I am closing this thread.

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