Rule checker for HTTPS Everywhere

https https-everywhere http security
pip install https-everywhere-checker


HTTPS Everywhere Rule Checker

Author: Ondrej Mikle, CZ.NIC (


pip install https-everywhere-checker

or using the supplied

python install


Copy checker.config.sample to checker.config and change the rulesdir under [rulesets] to point to a directory with the XML files of HTTPS Everywhere rules (usually the src/chrome/content/rules of locally checked out git tree of HTTPS Everywhere).


Once you have modified the config, run:

check-https-rules checker.config

Output will be written to selected log file, infos/warnings/errors contain the useful information.


  • Attempts to follow Firefox behavior as closely as possible (including rewriting HTTP redirects according to rules; well except for Javascript and meta-redirects)
  • IDN domain support
  • Currently two metrics on "distance" of two resources implemented, one is purely string-based, the other tries to measure "similarity of the shape of DOM tree"
  • Multi-threaded scanner
  • Support for various "platforms" (e.g. CAcert), i.e. sets of CA certificate sets which can be switched during following of redirects
  • set of used CA certificates can be statically restricted to one CA certificate set (see static_ca_path in config file)

What errors in rulesets can be detected

  • big difference in HTML page structure
  • error in ruleset - declared target that no rule rewrites, bad regexps (usually capture groups are wrong), incomplete FQDNs, non-existent domains
  • HTTP 200 in original page, while rewritten page returns 4xx/5xx
  • cycle detection in redirects
  • transvalid certificates (incomplete chains)
  • other invalid certificate detection (self-signed, expired, CN mismatch...)

False positives and shortcomings

  • Some pages deliberately have different HTTP and HTTPS page, some for example redirect to different page under https
  • URLs to scan are naively guessed from target hosts, having test set of URLs in a ruleset would improve it (better coverage)

Known bugs

CURL+NSS can't handle hosts with SNI sharing same IP address

PyCURL and NSS incorrectly handle the case when two FQDNs have identical IP address, use Server Name Indication and try to resume TLS session with the same session ID. Even turning off SSL session cache via setting pycurl.SSL_SESSIONID_CACHE to zero won't help (it's ignored by libcurl/pycurl for some reason). PyCURL+NSS fail to see that server didn't acknowledge SNI in response (see RFC 4366 reference below), thus 'Host' header in HTTP and SNI seen by server are different, thus HTTP 404.

This one issue was especially insidious bug, many thanks to Pavel Janík for helping hunt this bug down.


See curl_test_nss/ script that demonstrates the bug.

Technical details

PyCURL sends TLS handshake with SNI for the first host. This works. Connection is then closed, but PyCURL+NSS remembers the SSL session ID. It will attempt to use the same session ID when later connecting to second host on the same IP.

However, the server won't acknowledge what client requested with new SNI, because client attempts to resume during TLS handshake using the incorrect session ID. Thus the session is "resumed" to the first host's SNI.

Side observation: When validation is turned off in PyCURL+NSS, it also turns off session resume as a side effect (the code is in curl's nss.c).


Set config to use SSLv3 instead of default TLSv1 (option ssl_version under http section).

Normative reference

See last four paragraphs of RFC 4366, section 3.1. Contrast with RFC 6066 section 3, last two paragraphs. In TLS 1.2 the logic is reversed - server must not resume such connection and must go through full handshake again.

At most 9 capture groups in rule supported

This is a workaround for ambiguous rewrites in rules such as:

<rule from="^http://(www\.)?01\.org/" to="https://$" />

The $101 would actually mean 101-st group, so we assume that only first digit after $ denotes the group (which is how it seems to work in javascript).

May not work under Windows

According to PyCURL documentation, using CAPATH may not work under Windows. I'd guess it's due to openssl's c_rehash utility that creates symlinks to PEM certificates. Hypothetically it could work if the symlinks were replaced by regular files with identical names, but haven't tried.

Threading bugs and workarounds

There are some race conditions with Python threads and OpenSSL/GnuTLS that cause about due to SIGPIPE or SIGSEGV. While libcurl code seems to have implemented the necessary callbacks, there's a bug somewhere :-)

Workaround: set fetch_in_subprocess under http section in config to true when using multiple threads for fetching. Using subprocess is on by default.

You might have to set PYTHONPATH if working dir is different from code dir with python scripts.

If underlying SSL library is NSS, threading looks fine.

As a side effect, the CURL+NSS SNI bug does not happen with subprocesses (SSL session ID cache is not kept among process invocations).

If pure-threaded version starts eating too much memory (like 1 GB in a minute), turn on the fetch_in_subprocess option metioned above. Some combinations of CURL and SSL library versions do that. Spawning separate subprocesses prevents any caches building up and eating too much memory.

Using subprocess hypothetically might cause a deadlock due to insufficient buffer size when exchanging data through stdin/stdout in case of a large HTML page, but hasn't happened for any of the rules (I've tried to run them on the complete batch of rulesets contained in HTTPS Everywhere Nov 2 2012 commit c343f230a49d960dba90424799c3bacc2325fc94). Though in case deadlock happens, increase buffer size in subprocess.Popen invocation in

Generic bugs/quirks of SSL libraries

Each of the three possible libraries (OpenSSL, GnuTLS, NSS) has different set of quirks. GnuTLS seems to be the most strict one regarding relevant RFCs and will not for instance tolerate certificate chain in wrong order or forgive server not sending close_notify alert.

Thus it's entirely possible that while a server chain and SSL/TLS handshake seems OK when using one lib, it may break with the other.

Transvalid certificates (transitive closure of root and intermediate certs)

The platform_certs/FF_transvalid.tar.bz2 attempts to simulate common browser behavior of caching intermediate certs. The directory contains FF's builtin certs and all intermediate certs that validate from FF's builtin certs (a transitive closure).

The certs above are in a tarball (need to be unpacked and c_rehash'd for use).

The script is in certs_transitive_closure/ and is rather crude, definitely needs some double-checking of sanity (see comments inside the script).

Quick outline of the script's algorithm:

  1. IntermediateSet_0 := {trusted builtin certs from clean install of Firefox}
  2. Certs that have basic constraints CA=true or are X509 version 1 are exported from some DB like SSL Observatory
  3. Iterate over all exported certs, add new unique certificates not yet contained in IntermediateSet_n validate against latest IntermediateSet_n, forming IntermediateSet_{n+1}
  4. n += 1
  5. If any certs were added in step 3, goto 3, else end

Last IntermediateSet is the closure.