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Security

Security.txt

Some days ago while scrolling my mastodon‘s feed (for those who don’t know it is like Tweeter but instead of being a single website, the whole network is composed by many different entities that interact with each other), I found the following message:

To server admins:

It is a good practice to provide contact details, so others can contact you in case of security vulnerabilities or questions regarding your privacy policy.

One upcoming but already widespread format is the security.txt file at https://your-server/.well-known/security.txt.

See https://securitytxt.org/ and https://infosec-handbook.eu/.well-known/security.txt.

@infosechandbook@chaos.social

It caught my attention because my personal domain didn’t had one at the time. I’ve added it to other projects in the past, but do I need one for a personal domain?

After some thought, I couldn’t find any reason why I shouldn’t add one in this particular case. So as you might already have guessed, this post is about the steps I took to add it to my domain.

What is it?

A small text file, just like robots.txt, placed in a well known location, containing details about procedures, contacts and other key information required for security professionals to properly disclose their findings.

Or in other words: Contact details in a text file.

security.txt isn’t yet an official standard (still a draft) but it addresses a common issue that security researches encounter during their day to day activity: sometimes it’s harder to report a problem than it is to find it. I always remember the case of a Portuguese citizen, who spent ~5 months trying to contact someone that could fix some serious vulnerabilities in a governmental website.

Even though it isn’t an accepted standard yet, it’s already being used in the wild:

Need more examples? A small search finds it for you very quickly or you can also read here a small analysis of the current status on Alexa’s top 1000 websites.

Implementation

So to help the cause I added one for this domain. It can be found at https://ovalerio.net/.well-known/security.txt

Below are the steps I took:

  1. Go to https://securitytxt.org/ and fill the required fields of the form present on that website.
  2. Fill the extra fields if they apply.
  3. Generate the text document.
  4. Sign the content using your PGP key
    gpg --clear-sign security.txt
  5. Publish the signed file on your domain under https://<domain>/.well-known/security.txt

As you can see, this is a very low effort task and it can generate very high returns, if it leads to a disclosure of a serious vulnerability that otherwise would have gone unreported.

By Gonçalo Valério

Software developer and owner of this blog. More in the "about" page.

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