With the release of 8.2 Update 1, Sitecore also introduced support for Azure Web Apps. This release is, in my opinion, a major step for Sitecore as this update makes it very convenient to deploy to Azure using the Azure Marketplace or the provided PowerShell scripts, that’s why I think that this release is even bigger than Sitecore 8.2 initial. This deployment pattern is an interesting pattern to use on premise as well, although not all of the services can or should be used on premise. This blogpost describes how the Sitecore Azure Toolkit works. My next blogpost will describe how to use this toolkit to create your own custom web deployment packages, both for Azure and your on premise installation, with even older versions than Sitecore 8.2
Note: be careful when deploying to your own Azure subscription: when managed incorrectly, a Sitecore deployment on Azure can cause Azure to provision an extensively scaled environment, which generates many resources. Be careful as the cost of this could be high.
Update: modified the blogpost slightly thanks to excellent feedback from Rob Habraken, Steve McGill and Michael West. Thanks guys!
A few years back, back in the Sitecore 7.x days, I started to work with Sitecore. I originated from the SharePoint community (take note of the capital “P”!), where there are SO many active bloggers. I think this was caused by a bit of the history. “Back in the SharePoint 2007 days” all the SharePoint info we got, came from google, or from reflector, as the documentation wasn’t always “that well written”. It appeared that there were a few persons actively blogging about their findings and through the years, the amount of people actively blogging, writing cool code or helping each other out, exploded, but you had (and still have) to find your ways to find all the information.
I see the same pattern happening in Sitecore. A lot of great functionality, a great product, but not every feature is always documented. As everyone tries to get the most out of the platform, people are seeking the boundaries of the product and finding out how stuff works. A lot of people are looking for help, a lot of people are blogging, but it’s not always that evident to find the sources that you need. “Where is the community?” you might ask. And that’s exactly why I decided to write this blogpost.
A first free lesson: First lesson: SiteCore is written as Sitecore. Please take
care of this, as most Sitecore community members are a bit sensitive to it ;).
In a previous blogpost about the Http Strict Transport Security I explained how to force connections to make use of https to encrypt connections. A lot of people think it’s expensive, hard to implement and slow. This blogpost shows off how you can get a free, secure certificate, get your Sitecore site up-and-running in no more than 5 minutes, just by using the Let’s Encrypt service. Source-code can be found here on Github.
This is not a write-up on the complete CSP specification, there are other great sources for that on the web, I included them at the end of the article.
The module will be available on the marketplace when it has passed quality control.
Sourcecode is available on: https://github.com/BasLijten/SitecoreSecurity
Secure connections? Why would I even bother? It’s expensive, slow, complex and I’ve got a firewall anyway? On the SUGCON in Copenhagen I showed off how easy it is to intercept, modify and redirect unencrypted traffic and what can be done against this threat. This blogpost is all about why you should serve your website always and fully over HTTPS and how the browser can be forced to use this HTTPS connection. This blogpost will not show off how to configure HTTPS and will not tell about all the benefits of https. The technique to achieve this is bu adding a HSTS header for your domain, google recently announced that they will introduce this for the complete www.google.com domain as well!
Note: Some other great articles have been written about this subject, but I intentionally wrote this article to reach out the Sitecore (and SharePoint) community!
The configuration is included in the blogpost below, it will also be released as a XDT as part of a bigger security project
At the upcoming Sitecore Symposium, starting on September 15th, I’ll have the pleasure of presenting a session about Sitecore Security – Keeping Hackers out: Secure Application Development for Sitecore.
All sourcecode can be found here on github
Let’s face it: It’s a business nowadays to hack sites, retrieve personal information and sell them on the black markets, think of usernames, passwords, credit card details and-so-on. Often, this data is stolen using SQL injection attacks, which may be possible to your Sitecore site as well, thus, it’s better to be safe than sorry. As Sitecore ships with an old hashing algorithm to handle Sitecore users login, it’s time to replace the hashing algorithm as well. When having a fresh installation, this isn’t much of an issue, but for existing installations, you will face the challenge on upgrading your existing users, because the password hashing algorithm will be changed. This blogpost will show how to upgrade the hashing algorithm, describe those challenges, and tell you how to increase your Sitecore security.
Find the sources on https://github.com/BasLijten/SitecoreDefaultMembershipProvider for use on your own Sitecore environment!
In my previous blogpost I wrote on improving the Sitecore logs, which was a prerequisite for this blogpost, to send all that logging information to Application Insights. This blogpost will explain the steps on how to do this. Application Insights is a tool, hosted on Azure, which helps to get a 360-view on your application. It tracks application health, adoption metrics and crash data. With several interactive tools it’s possible to filter out, segment data and drill down into event instances for details. With a few clicks, it’s possible to view the whole logged call-stack of your application. In this blogpost, I will explain how to send your logs to Application Insights. The great thing is: The is not limited to your custom logs, but the full stack of logs, thus custom and Sitecore logs, will show up in this tool. This platform is not limited to Microsoft, there are a lot of SDK’s available for other technologies.
All source code can be found on my SitecoreDiagnostics repository on github.
Lately, I have been working on improving he Sitecore Logging Experience™. Sitecore uses the log4net framework to handle all kinds of logs, but, with the standard configuration and implementation, we’re not making the most out of it. Where Alex Shyba wrote some excellent posts on writing your logs to SQL to make the logs easier accessible, I am going to take the logging capabilities to the next level! In this blogpost I will describe why the out of the box Sitecore logging implementation should be improved, how to do this and eventually I’ll show how to modify the appenders to show some extra trace information. This is all a step-up to my next blogpost, I will explain how all the Sitecore logs can be send to application insights on azure to get even better insights in your application usage!