Update: Stenaline have responded and disabled email inspection
Fabulous, they have disabled the configuration that was causing me the most problems, within 24hrs of my original post. Congratulations stena line and I look forward to my return journey!
As a direct action on your mail we immediately notified our service provider regarding this issue and the problem is now located and solved.
IMAP protocol inspection is now disabled. The previous setting was an unintentional mistake by our service provider. .
Stena Line provide free wifi, which is awesome, however, their egregious content filtering system massively compromises the passengers online safety far more than normal public wifi hotspots.
They claim on their captive portal login screen on their on-ship wifi:
All open wireless networks are by nature insecure. Please, take the necessary precautions to protect your privacy and data communications.
What kind of security, does the network provide?
The network security level is basically the same as you find on public hotspots.
However, this is clearly not the case, because they go out of their way to invalidate “the necessary precautions” that I normally take which is checking my email over SSL protected connections..
It appears stenaline think that its OK for them to snoop on my SSL secured private and work emails some fortinet/fortigate snooping appliance they seem to have. This appliance proxies SSL connections and re-signs the certificates with its own keys, effectively performing an SSL MITM (Man In The Middle) Attack. SSL is designed to prevent this sort of thing, which is why your browser throws up an error message when somethings gone wrong. All in all, this however means nobody can tell if its them “protecting” me or if it is infact a rogue hacker running a fake access point, a so called “Evil Twin” network, collecting peoples google, and corporate credentials, or snooping on my emails.. Thanks very much guys.
Update: It appears that It’s not limited to email or non-https web ports, lots of websites that have https connections blow up too, even common ones like google plus which loads content from https://fls.doubleclick.net (a google owned site). They appear to whitelist certain popular websites to allow https directly, but this is unmanageable and unmaintainable, and wholly ridiculous. I cant safely sign into my work SSL VPN with this either.
Heres an example where they have stripped the regular CA and added the Self-Signed Fortinet CA Certificate for imap.google.com
$ openssl s_client -connect imap.gmail.com:993 CONNECTED(00000003) depth=1 C = US, ST = California, L = Sunnyvale, O = Fortinet, OU = Certificate Authority, CN = FortiGate CA, emailAddress = firstname.lastname@example.org verify error:num=19:self signed certificate in certificate chain --- Certificate chain 0 s:/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=imap.gmail.com i:/C=US/ST=California/L=Sunnyvale/O=Fortinet/OU=Certificate Authority/CN=FortiGate CA/emailAddressemail@example.com 1 s:/C=US/ST=California/L=Sunnyvale/O=Fortinet/OU=Certificate Authority/CN=FortiGate CA/emailAddressfirstname.lastname@example.org i:/C=US/ST=California/L=Sunnyvale/O=Fortinet/OU=Certificate Authority/CN=FortiGate CA/emailAddressemail@example.com --- Server certificate subject=/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=imap.gmail.com issuer=/C=US/ST=California/L=Sunnyvale/O=Fortinet/OU=Certificate Authority/CN=FortiGate CA/emailAddressfirstname.lastname@example.org
it should look like
$ openssl s_client -connect imap.gmail.com:993 -showcerts CONNECTED(00000003) depth=1 C = US, O = Google Inc, CN = Google Internet Authority --- Certificate chain 0 s:/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=imap.gmail.com i:/C=US/O=Google Inc/CN=Google Internet Authority 1 s:/C=US/O=Google Inc/CN=Google Internet Authority i:/C=US/O=Equifax/OU=Equifax Secure Certificate Authority --- Server certificate subject=/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=imap.gmail.com issuer=/C=US/O=Google Inc/CN=Google Internet Authority
All in all, the standard advice of when using a public wifi connection, use a VPN still stands…
As most regular folk dont have a VPN (and even SSL VPNs are compromised here), the best you can hope for is that the sites you use will use SSL, and that you dont just willy-nilly click “OK” on Browser SSL Warning Pages, sadly, this standard web-safety advice means you just cant browse the web safely on stena line ferries.
Google take a very dim view on this sort of thing: Google security blog: Attempted man in the middle attacks
Another interesting thing is that this may also be illegal in the UK within the terms of the computer misuse act or telecommunication acts, as they are attempting to decrypt an encrypted communication, though I’m not a lawyer. If anyone can shed any light on this I’d like to know.
I’ve emailed stena a link to this post to see if they respond, and hopefully set a timeframe for removing this egregious device/configuration from their network.