Apple’s modified CA cert handling and curl

I tweeted about me finding a change in Apple’s version of curl that I haven’t seen any public patch for. Apple otherwise hosts a whole slew of curl patches which they never discuss with us about but still make public and we can see what they did.

I was trying to help out a fellow curl user on IRC (we’re in #curl on freenode, come see us) and he was trying to understand some funny effects of running curl against a HTTPS site and he showed me the output from a “curl -v” log. The verbose log curiously was different than mine (same curl version built by myself on Linux). My conclusion was that something was different in the Apple version.

The users log said:

* About to connect() to host.example.com port 443 (#0)
*   Trying 1.2.3.4... connected
* Connected to host.example.com (1.2.3.4) port 443 (#0)
* SSLv3, TLS handshake, Client hello (1):

… while my command against the same site said:

* About to connect() to host.example.com port 443 (#0)
*   Trying 1.2.3.4... connected
* Connected to host.example.com (1.2.3.4) port 443 (#0)
* successfully set certificate verify locations:
*   CAfile: /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt
  CApath: none
* SSLv3, TLS handshake, Client hello (1):

(I’ve bolded the part my output showed that wasn’t in the mac version, the real host name and IP have been changed.)

It seems I was wrong however.

The output above is only shown if libcurl sets the CA cert path to OpenSSL and it seems the Mac version doesn’t. Somehow they get the CA certs loaded to libcurl differently.

So ok, maybe they didn’t modify curl but they certainly changed how curl uses CA certs and they did this by modifying OpenSSL and clearly their version of OpenSSL now defaults to use their CA cert bundle. The end result for me is still the same though: I have no idea how CA certs work with curl on Mac so it leaves me with the unfortunate situation where I can’t help fellow curl users when they have CA cert problems on a Mac.

It also leaves me very curious on what –cacert does exactly on the mac version of curl.

OpenSSL is patched. Apparently it now works so that if the “normal” x509 validation fails, and TrustEvaluationAgent (TEA) is enabled, it will attempt to use the TEA to validate the certificate. The apple source code to read through for this is x509_vfy_apple.c in their patched OpenSSL tree. It is also possible to skip the TEA verification thing in OpenSSL by setting an environment variable, so that we can still have curl on mac act “as default” with a command line like:

$ env OPENSSL_X509_TEA_DISABLE=1 curl https://www.example.com/

Finally: yes, curl is released under an MIT license. They’re perfectly allowed to do whichever of these actions they want. I know this, and I chose the MIT license fully aware that any company can take the code, modify it and never return any changes. I’m not arguing against anyone’s rights to do this with curl.

Thank you, friendly anonymous helper for helping me straighten out my findings!

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