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Configuring OpenStack deployments to prevent POODLE attacks


POODLE (CVE-2014-3566) is a new attack on SSLv3 that allows an active network-based attacker to recover the plaintext from a secure connection using a CBC-mode cipher. Unfortunately, all other cipher modes in SSLv3 are also insecure. Therefore, the recommended solution is to disable SSLv3. We also discuss an alternative option below. Proper mitigation requires addressing this issue on SSLv3 clients and servers.

Affected Services / Software

Any service using SSLv3. Depending on the backend SSL library, this can include many components of an OpenStack cloud:

  • OpenStack services
  • OpenStack clients
  • Web servers (Apache, Nginx, etc)
  • SSL/TLS terminators (Stud, Pound, etc)
  • Proxy services (HAProxy, etc)
  • Miscellaneous services (eventlet, syslog, ldap, smtp, etc)


The POODLE attack was first announced on 14 Oct 2014 [1]. For a deeper technical discussion on POODLE, we refer you to the security advisory at openssl.org [2] and Daniel Franke's write-up [3]. POODLE affects any SSL/TLS connection that can be downgraded to SSLv3. This requires both the client and the server to support SSLv3. Due to the way the protocol negotiations work, an attacker positioned on the network between the client and the server can force a downgrade to SSLv3 by selectively dropping network packets.

The best remediation for POODLE is to disable SSLv3 on all clients and servers that you control. This will protect you regardless of the mitigation status on the other end of the connection. An alternative option is to deploy TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV, which will prevent the downgrade attack, but could still allow SSLv3 connections if that is the only supported protocol between the client and server. Any connection that happens over SSLv3 using a CBC-mode cipher would still be vulnerable.

You can use the OpenSSL s_client tool to test if a server allows SSLv3 connections:

   openssl s_client -connect <domain name>:<port> -ssl3

If the server does not support SSLv3, you will see a handshake failure message. This indicates that the server does not accept SSLv3 connections. Assuming this server also has SSLv2 disabled, which is a common default today, then no further configuration is needed. If the handshake from s_client completes, then the server requires some configuration. Note that you can perform this step for any service that has SSL/TLS enabled including OpenStack API endpoints.

Testing clients is slightly more cumbersome because there are likely many more clients than servers throughout the cloud. However, this test follows a similar pattern. Using the OpenSSL s_server tool, you can create an endpoint that only accepts SSLv3:

   openssl s_server -cert <filename> -key <filename> -state \
                    -ssl3 -no_ssl2 -no_tls1 -no_tls1_1 -no_tls1_2 \

If the client can connect to this endpoint, the client needs to update their configuration as described below.

Recommended Actions

We recommend disabling SSLv3 altogether and will provide additional guidance on how to do this below.

If SSLv3 is still required on your system due to client compatibility concerns, then TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV is your only choice. In this case you will need an underlying library that supports TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV (such as OpenSSL 1.0.1j). Applications using OpenSSL will automatically start using TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV once OpenSSL is updated. You should perform an audit in your cloud to verify that all SSL/TLS services do use this new library:

   ldd <path to binary that uses OpenSSL> | grep ssl

Review the output and ensure that it is linked to the new version of OpenSSL that includes TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV support.

Disabling SSLv3 can be done at either the application level or the library level. Doing it at the library level ensures consistency throughout the cloud. However, if you are not already compiling OpenSSL then this may not fit into your deployment workflow. In this case, you must consider each application in turn.

If you are able to recompile your SSL/TLS library, then this is likely the best option. Disabling SSLv3 at the library level ensures consistency across the system. For OpenSSL, you can use the "no-ssl3" build option. Then deploy that library to your cloud and verify that all SSL/TLS services are using the library using the ldd command discussed above.

If you are unable to recompile your SSL/TLS library, then you should reconfigure each application that uses SSL/TLS. Each application has a different way to handle this configuration. We provide the configuration option for some of the more common applications below:


 SSLProtocol All -SSLv2 -SSLv3


 ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;


Requires code change, see [4]. After code change use --tls option.


Requires code change, see [5]. After code change use DisableSSLv3 option.


Only version 1.5+ supports SSL/TLS. Depends on config, see [6].

Postfix SMTP


The OpenStack services and python clients do not currently have a configuration option for the SSL/TLS protocol version. Therefore, the best way to avoid SSLv3 with OpenStack code today is to ensure that the underlying SSL/TLS library (OpenSSL in this case) is compiled without SSLv3 support, as described above.

Once you have updated all of the necessary software in your cloud, we recommend using the s_client and s_server test procedures described above to verify that each service is configured as expected.

Contacts / References