Increasing the Encryption Noise Floor

Inspired by Tim Bray's recent post about encrypting his website, I decided to enable and force HTTPS for The process was straightforward and, turns out, completely free. Read on to find out how and why.


Because I think the whole web should be encrypted and I figured I should practice what I preach. Bugsplat is primarily static html and is completely public but that doesn't mean I can't increase the encryption noise floor, so to speak. If only the websites with secret datas are encrypted then just using them is suspicious. If every site is encrypted then there's nothing to be suspicious about.


Bugsplat is deployed to my RamNode VPS (notice: affiliate link) with Capistrano::Buildpack, a Capistrano add-on that allows you to deploy applications using Heroku-style buildpacks. Recently I added support for simply configuring HTTPS with a few options in your Capfile. Here's the relevent config from's Capfile:

set :use_ssl, true
set :force_ssl, true
set :ssl_cert_path, '/etc/nginx/certs/'
set :ssl_key_path, '/etc/nginx/certs/'

:use_ssl enables listening on port 443 with SSL and the two path options just tell nginx where to find the keys on the server, which are deployed separately with Puppet. :force_ssl adds this small snippet to the exported nginx config file which redirects plain requests to SSL:

if ($ssl_protocol = "") {
   rewrite ^https://$server_name$request_uri? permanent;

As for the certificate, I ended up going with a free certificate from StartSSL. This certificate doesn't necessarily guarantee that I am who I say I am because I just had to validate an email address, but it does guarantee that the connection is encrypted which is really all I care about. At some point I plan on going through the verification steps needed to get Class 2 certificates from StartSSL, but that's for another day.

Posted in: Networking  

Tagged: Programming Meta