Nelson's log

Mavericks security update 2015-004 has a serious SSL bug

My Mac suddenly started throwing SSL errors when connecting to various sites, like or The App Store application refused to load content, too. Long story short, MacOS Mavericks 2015-004 has a bug where an incorrect certificate named “VeriSign Class 3 Public Primary Certification Authority – G5” is placed on the user’s login keychain. The fix is to run Keychain Access and remove it. Note: remove the one in the login keychain, not the System Roots.

Update 2: 2015-004 doesn’t put the entry on the login keychain, something else put it there earlier. 2015-004 does seem to change something though that triggers the verification problem. The fix is still to remove the key from the login keychain, I just don’t know what put it there in the first place.

Update 3: turns out it’s Cyberduck that’s writing the certificate entries.

This error seems really serious to me. Macs that are affected can’t get new software updates. Also Chrome will refuse to load any websites with SSL certs signed by that VeriSign certificate, including Apple’s own sites. Safari will load the site but will display SSL errors. Apparently Chrome is more strict in enforcing SSL security.

(I thought it was particularly interesting that it was impossible to get Chrome to visit Twitter. Twitter only serves HTTPS, not HTTP. And they have HSTS enabled which means Chrome will refuse to load a page without a working SSL certificate. Well that all succeeded, but boy was that a bad experience.)

Here’s some links with more discussion: Ask Different, Security StackExchange, Apple forums. I exported the two Verizon certs that were on my login keychain that were the problem, there’s a zip file here along with some screenshots of failed SSL certs. (That file won’t be online forever.)

I seem to be hitting a serious bug like this in MacOS every couple of months. Along with some broken-by-design things like their SMB client and I really am tempted to try going back to a Windows desktop. Or maybe Linux, if it weren’t so damn ugly.

Update 1: thanks to Ned’s suggestion in the comments I tried figuring out how those VeriSign certificates got in my keychain in the first place. I still don’t know, but looking at backups in Time Machine I can see it was placed there sometime between 2015-01-17 and 2015-02-23 13:48 (the two backups I have from before and after.)
$ grep -i verisign */Macintosh\ HD/Users/nelson/Library/Keychains/login.keychain

The Mac was turned off from 2015-01-08 until 2015-01-17 and again for 2015-01-21 until 2015-02-23. It seems likely the VeriSign entry ended up on my keychain when I turned the Mac back on. But it would have happened quickly; I entered the house at 13:42 and it’s in the keychain at 13:48. And my network is very slow. It could also have happened sometime between 2015-01-17 and 2015-01-21.

FWIW there’s a bunch of updates that installed a few hours after the keychain update, 2015-02-24 04:00 AM, including Security Update 2015-001 and Safari. But the keychain entry precedes those. Between 2015-01-17 and 2015-02-23 I only have a bunch of updates from “Google Voice and Video” and one from Seil, a keyboard kernel hack. Also FWIW I’m not given to manually tampering with my keychain nor blindly approving requests to manipulate it.