c0d3 :: j0rg3

A collection of tips, tricks and snips. A proud Blosxom weblog. All code. No cruft.

Tue, 07 Mar 2017

Privacy Part II: VPN/IPVanish - Install IPVanish on Kali Linux

Okay, so you’re running Whonix, Tails or, at least, TorBrowser.

What’s next? You may wish to consider using a VPN. In simple terms, it’s somewhat similar to what Tor offers. That is: you connect to the VPN and your connection passes through them such that the site that you are visiting will see the VPN’s IP address rather than yours. Of course, that means that you can chain them.

That is: (You)->VPN->Tor->Exit node->Web site

The reason that you might feel compelled to take this step is that a party which is able to see your traffic into and out of Tor could still identify you. The thinking is that the parties who wish to interfere with your privacy could be compelled to run Tor bridges, relays and exit nodes. If traffic from your IP address could be matched to requests coming from the Tor exit node then you could, effectively, be identified.

Some people hold that using a VPN to access Tor does not improve your anonymousness. I am not among them. In particular, you will find that IPVanish offers VPN service for under $7 per month and is popular among users of the Tor network. Which means that in addition to the fact that IPVanish is not logging your traffic, there’s an excellent chance that other users are going from IPVanish into Tor, helping to reduce the uniqueness of your traffic.

By the way, I’d suggest poking around the web a little bit. While their prices are already great you can find some even deeper discounts: https://signup.ipvanish.com/?aff=vpnfan-promo

IPVanish’s site offers instructions for installing the VPN in Ubuntu so we’re going to take a look at using IPVanish in Kali — including an interesting and unanticipated snag (and, of course, how to fix it).

Let’s grab the OpenVPN configuration:
wget http://www.ipvanish.com/software/configs/ca.ipvanish.com.crt; wget http://www.ipvanish.com/software/configs/ipvanish-US-New-York-nyc-a01.ovpn

We will need the OpenVPN package for Gnome:
apt install network-manager-openvpn-gnome

Click on the tray in the upper right corner, then the wrench/screwdriver icon:

Select the ‘Network’ folder icon:

We’re choosing ‘Wired’ (even though we’re using wlan0 interface):

We’re setting up a VPN, of course:

Import from file:

Choose the configuration file that we downloaded previously:

Enter ‘User name’ and ‘Password’:

We are connected!

Verified at IPVanish’s site: https://www.ipvanish.com/checkIP.php

And this is where I had anticipated the installation instructions would end.

I just wanted to check a few more things. And I would love to tell you that it was simply my thoroughness and unbridled CLI-fu that led to discover that I was still making ipv6 connections outside of the VPN. Seems that it wasn’t noticed by the test at IPVanish because they deal only in ipv4. I was able to prove my ipv6 address and geolocation by using: http://whatismyipaddress.com/

Further, we can establish that the test at IPVanish is not ipv6-compatible with a quick test.

The easy fix here is to disable ipv6 locally. It is plausible that this could cause unintended consequences and, to be thorough, it would be best to handle your VPN at the firewall. Having support for OpenVPN, you’ll be able to get this running with a huge variety of routing/firewall solutions. You can grab any number of tiny computers and build a professional-quality firewall solution with something like pfSense. Maybe we’ll take a look at getting that configured in a future post.

But, for now, let’s shut down ipv6 in a way that doesn’t involve any grandiose hand-waving magic (i.e., unexplained commands which probably should work) and then test to get confidence in our results.

Let’s use sysctl to find our ipv6 kernel bits and turn them off. Then we’ll load our configuration changes. As a safety, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look in /etc/sysctl.conf to verify that there aren’t any ipv6 configs in there.

We’ll back up our config file then turn off everything ipv6 by listing everything with the words ‘ipv6’ and ‘disable’:
cp /etc/sysctl.conf /etc/$(date +%Y-%m-%d.%H-%M-%S).sysctl.conf.bak && \
sysctl -a | grep -i ipv6 | grep disable | sed 's/0/1/g' >> /etc/sysctl.conf && \
sysctl -p

To explain what we’re doing:
List all kernel flags; show uonly those containing the string ‘ipv6’; of those that remain, show only those that contain the string ‘disable’:
sysctl -a | grep -i ipv6 | grep disable
Replace the 0 values with 1, to turn ON the disabling, by piping output to:
sed 's/0/1/g'
That all gets stuck on the end of ‘sysctl.conf’ by redirecting stdout to append to the end of that file:
>> /etc/sysctl.conf
Then we reload with:
sysctl -p

Then as a final sanity-check we’ll make sure we can’t find any ipv6 packets sneaking about:
tcpdump -t -n -i wlan0 -s 256 -vv ip6

At this point, assuming our tcpdump doesn’t show any traffic, we should be ipv6-free with all of our ipv4 traffic shipped-off nicely through IPVanish!

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Permalink: 20170307.privacy.vpn.ipvanish

Sun, 19 Feb 2017

Privacy: perspective and primer.

Hello friends.

While the overall telos of this blog is to, generally speaking, convey code snippets and inspire the personal projects of others, today we’re going to do something a smidgeon different.

This will be a layman’s look at varied dimensions of information security from a comfortable distance. Over the years, I’ve secured servers, operating systems, medical data, networks, communications and I’ve unsecured many of these same things. The topics are too sprawling to be covered in a quick summary — but let’s find a point of entry.

Those of us who are passionate about information security are well aware of how daunting is the situation. For newcomers, it sometimes seems rather impossible. Pick any subject and there are probably well-informed and convincing experts in diametric equidistance from any “happy medium”.

Let’s imagine that (like most of us) you don’t have anything spectacular to protect. However, you dislike the idea of our ever-dissolving privacy. Therefore you want to encrypt communications. Maybe you begin to use Signal. However, there are criticisms that there is a “backdoor” (there is not). Further, there are accusations that open source projects are coded by those who can’t get real jobs. Conversely, open source projects are widely open for peer review. If it worries one enough they are free to review code themselves.

PGP can encrypt content but concerns surround algorithmic selections. Some are worried about metadata crumbs. Of course, there’s nothing preventing the frequent switching of keys and email addresses. You could use BitMessage, any number of chat solutions or drop at paste bins.

Let’s leave those concerns aside for when you’ve figured out what you’re intending to protect. These arguments surround any subject in information security and we’re not going to investigate them on a case by case basis. Least, not in this post.

At the coarsest granularity, the question is analogous to the practicality of locking your doors or sealing your post envelopes. Should I take measures toward privacy?

My opinion is rather predictable: of course you should!

There’s a very pragmatic explanation. If there ever comes a day when you should like to communicate privately, that’s a terrible time to start learning.

Take the easy road and start using some of the myriad tools and services available.

Should you decide to take InfoSec seriously, you’ll need to define a threat model.
That is: What am I protecting? From whom am I protecting? (e.g. what are probable attack vectors?)

That’s where you need to make choices about trusting products, protocols, methods, algorithms, companies, servers, et cet. Those are all exciting subjects to explore but all too often brushing up against them can be exasperating and cause premature burn-out.

That in mind, let’s employ the philosophy that any effort toward security is better than none and take a look at a few points where one might get wetted-toes.

If you have questions or want specific advice, there are several ways below to initiate a secure conversation with me.


Secure your browser:

  • Privacy Badger: Block tracking
  • HTTPS Everywhere: Increase your encryptioning
  • uBlock: Advertisements are for others

    Secure communications:

  • Mailvelope: PGP email encryption for your major webmail provider (e.g., Gmail) | contact | pubkey
  • Tutanota: Encrypted webmail | Kontakt
  • Protonmail: Well-established provider of PGP encrypted webmail, featuring 2FA | kontakta
  • BitMessage: P2P encrypted communications protocol | contact: BM-2D9tDkYEJSTnEkGDKf7xYA5rUj2ihETxVR | Bitmessage channel list
  •   [ Bitmessage in a Docker container ]

  • BitMessage.ch: BitMessage email gateway | contact
  • BitMsg.me: Online BitMessage service
  • Keybase.io: Keybase maps your identity to your public keys, and vice versa
  • Signal: PGP encrypted TXT messages
  • Wire: Encrypted chat, video and calls
  • RIOT: Open-source, IRC-based, Matrix; run your own server
  • Wickr: Encrypted ephemeral chat
  •   [ n.b. Wickr’s .deb package seeks a unicode library (libicu52) which is not available to a recent Kali (or anything) install; .deb file is based on Ubuntu’s 2014 LTS release. Wickr in a Docker container ]


    Explore alternate nets (e.g., Deep Web, Dark Net):

  • MaidSafe: Promising new alt-web project
  • Qubes: a reasonably secure operating system
  • FreeNet: Alt-net based primarily on already knowing with whom you intend to collaborate
  • Bitmask: VPN solution to anonymize your traffic
  • TAILS: A live operating system based on the Tor network
  • TorBrowser: Stand-alone browser for Tor (less secure than TAILS)
  • Whonix: the most secure (and complex) way to access the Tor network
  • i2p: an other approach to creating a secure and private alternate web
  • Morph.is: fun alt-net, aimed at producing The World Brain. Although, it’s future looks a lot less promising since the lead dev was killed.
  • ZeroNet: one more encrypted anonymous net
  • Have fun and compute safely!

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    Permalink: 20170219.privacy.prespective.primer

    Fri, 17 Feb 2017

    The making of a Docker: Part I - Bitmessage GUI with SSH X forwarding

    Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of work from a laptop running Kali. Engaged in pursuit of a new job, I’m brushing up on some old tools and skills, exploring some bits that have changed.

    My primary desktop rig is currently running Arch because I love the fine grain control and the aggressive releases. Over the years, I’ve Gentoo’d and Slacked, Crunchbanged, BSD’d, Solarised, et cet. And I’ve a fondness for all of them, especially the security-minded focus of OpenBSD. But, these days we’re usually on Arch or Kali. Initially, I went with Black Arch on the laptop but I felt the things and ways I was fixing things were too specific to my situation to be good material for posts.

    Anyway, I wanted to get Bitmessage running, corresponding to another post I have in drafts. On Kali, it wasn’t going well so I put it on the Arch box and just ran it over the network. A reasonable solution if you’re in my house but also the sort of solution that will keep a hacker up at night.

    If you’re lucky, there’s someone maintaining a package for the piece of software that you want to run. However, that’s often not the case.

    If I correctly recall, to “fix” the problem with Bitmessage on Kali would’ve required the manual installation an older version of libraries that were already present. Those libraries should, in fact, be all ebony and ivory, living together in harmony. However, I just didn’t love the idea of that solution. I wanted to find an approach that would be useful on a broader scale.

    Enter containerization/virtualization!

    Wanting the lightest solution, I quickly went to Docker and realized something. I have not before built a Docker container for a GUI application. And Bitmessage’s CLI/daemon mode doesn’t provide the fluid UX that I wanted. Well, the easy way to get a GUI out of a Docker container is to forward DISPLAY as an evironment variable (i.e., docker run -e DISPLAY=$DISPLAY). Splendid!

    Except that it doesn’t work on current Kali which is using QT4. There’s a when graphical apps are run as root and though it is fixed in QT5, we are using current Kali. And that means we are, by default, uid 0 and QT4.

    I saw a bunch of workarounds that seemed to have spotty (at best) rates of success including seting QT’s graphics system to Native and giving Xorg over to root. They, mostly, seemed to be cargo cult solutions.

    What made the most sense to my (generally questionable) mind was to use X forwarding. Since I had already been running Bitmessage over X forwarding from my Arch box, I knew it should work just the same.

    To be completely truthful, the first pass I took at this was with Vagrant mostly because it’s SO easy. Bring up your Vagrant Box and then:
    vagrant ssh -- -X

    Having proof of concept, I wanted a Docker container. The reason for this is practical. Vagrant, while completely awesome, has substantially more overhead than Docker by virtualizing the kernel. We don’t want a separate kernel running for each application. Therefore Docker is the better choice for this project.

    Also, we want this whole thing to be seemless. We want to run the command bitmessage and it should fire up with minimal awkwardness and hopefully no extra steps. That is we do not want to run the Docker container then SSH into it and execute Bitmessage as individual steps. Even though that’s going to be how we begin.

    The Bitmessage wiki accurately describes how to install the software so we’ll focus on the SSH setup. Though when we build the Dockerfile we will need to add SSH to the list from the wiki.

    We’re going to want the container to start so that the SSH daemon is ready. Until then we can’t SSH (with X forwarding) into the container. Then we’ll want to use SSH to kick off the Bitmessage application, drawing the graphical interface using our host system’s X11.

    We’re going to take advantage of Docker’s -v --volume option which allows us to specify a directory on our host system to be mounted inside our container. Using this feature, we’ll generate our SSH keys on the host and make them automatically available inside the container. We’ll tuck the keys inside the directory that Bitmessage uses for storing its configuration and data. That way Bitmessage’s configuration and stored messages can be persistent between runs — and all of your pieces are kept in a single place.

    When we generate the container /etc/ssh/sshd_config is configured to allow root login without password only (i.e., using keys). So here’s how we’ll get this done:
    mkdir -p ~/.config/PyBitmessage/keys #Ensure that our data directories exist
    cd ~/.config/PyBitmessage/keys
    ssh-keygen -b 4096 -P "" -C $"$(whoami)@$(hostname)-$(date -I)" -f docker-bitmessage-keys #Generate our SSH keys
    ln -fs docker-bitmessage-keys.pub authorized_keys #for container to see pubkey

    Build our container (sources available at Github and Docker) and we’ll make the script to handle Bitmessage to our preferences. #!/bin/bash
    # filename: bitmessage
    set -euxo pipefail

    # open Docker container:
    # port 8444 available, sharing local directories for SSH and Bitmessage data
    # detatched, interactive, pseudo-tty (-dit)
    # record container ID in $DID (Docker ID)
    DID=$(docker run -p 8444:8444 -v ~/.config/PyBitmessage/:/root/.config/PyBitmessage -v ~/.config/PyBitmessage/keys/:/root/.ssh/ -dit j0rg3/bitmessage-gui bash)

    # find IP address of new container, record in $DIP (Docker IP)
    DIP=$(docker inspect $DID | grep IPAddress | cut -d '"' -f 4)

    # pause for one second to allow container's SSHD to come online
    sleep 1

    # SSH into container and execute Bitmessage
    ssh -oStrictHostKeyChecking=no -oUserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null -oIdentityFile=~/.config/PyBitmessage/keys/docker-bitmessage-keys -X $DIP ./PyBitmessage/src/bitmessagemain.py

    # close container if Bitmessage is closed
    docker kill $DID

    Okay, let’s make it executable: chmod +x bitmessage

    Put a link to it where it can be picked up system-wide: ln -fs ~/docker-bitmessage/bitmessage /usr/local/bin/bitmessage

    There we have it! We now have a functional Bitmessage inside a Docker container. \o/

    In a future post we’ll look at using eCryptfs to further protect our Bitmessage data stores.

      Project files: Github and Docker

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    Permalink: 20170217.making.a.docker.bitmessage

    Tue, 04 Jun 2013

    Painless protection with Yubico’s Yubikey

    Recently, I ordered a Yubikey and, in the comments section of the order, I promised to write about the product. At the time, I assumed that there was going to be something about which to write: (at least a few) steps of setting up and configuration or a registration process. They’ve made the task of writing about it difficult, by making the process of using it so easy.

    Plug it in. The light turns solid green and you push the button when you need to enter the key. That’s the whole thing!

    Physically, the device has a hole for a keychain or it can slip easily into your wallet. It draws power from the USB port on the computer, so there’s none stored in the device, meaning it should be completely unfazed if you accidentally get it wet.

    Let’s take a look at the device.

    > lsusb | grep Yubico

    Bus 005 Device 004: ID 1050:0010 Yubico.com Yubikey

    We see that it is on Bus 5, Device 4. How about a closer look?

    > lsusb -v -s5:4

    Bus 005 Device 004: ID 1050:0010 Yubico.com Yubikey
    Couldn't open device, some information will be missing
    Device Descriptor:
      bLength                18
      bDescriptorType         1
      bcdUSB               2.00
      bDeviceClass            0 (Defined at Interface level)
      bDeviceSubClass         0 
      bDeviceProtocol         0 
      bMaxPacketSize0         8
      idVendor           0x1050 Yubico.com
      idProduct          0x0010 Yubikey
      bcdDevice            2.41
      iManufacturer           1 
      iProduct                2 
      iSerial                 0 
      bNumConfigurations      1
      Configuration Descriptor:
        bLength                 9
        bDescriptorType         2
        wTotalLength           34
        bNumInterfaces          1
        bConfigurationValue     1
        iConfiguration          0 
        bmAttributes         0x80
          (Bus Powered)
        MaxPower               30mA
        Interface Descriptor:
          bLength                 9
          bDescriptorType         4
          bInterfaceNumber        0
          bAlternateSetting       0
          bNumEndpoints           1
          bInterfaceClass         3 Human Interface Device
          bInterfaceSubClass      1 Boot Interface Subclass
          bInterfaceProtocol      1 Keyboard
          iInterface              0 
            HID Device Descriptor:
              bLength                 9
              bDescriptorType        33
              bcdHID               1.11
              bCountryCode            0 Not supported
              bNumDescriptors         1
              bDescriptorType        34 Report
              wDescriptorLength      71
             Report Descriptors: 
               ** UNAVAILABLE **
          Endpoint Descriptor:
            bLength                 7
            bDescriptorType         5
            bEndpointAddress     0x81  EP 1 IN
            bmAttributes            3
              Transfer Type            Interrupt
              Synch Type               None
              Usage Type               Data
            wMaxPacketSize     0x0008  1x 8 bytes
            bInterval              10

    There’s not a great deal to be seen here. As it tells you right on Yubico’s site, the device presents as a keyboard and it “types” out its key when you press the button, adding another long and complex password to combine with the long and complex password that you’re already using.

    Keep in mind that this device is unable to protect you from keyloggers, some of which are hardware-based. It’s critically important that you are very, very careful about where you’re sticking your Yubikey. Even Yubico cannot protect us from ourselves.

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    Permalink: 20130604.yay.yubico.yubikey

    Thu, 30 May 2013

    Making ixquick your default search engine

    In this writer’s opinion, it is vitally important that we take reasonable measures now to help insure anonymity, lest we create a situation where privacy no longer exists, and the simple want of, becomes suspicious.

    Here’s how to configure your browser to automatically use a search engine that respects your privacy.


    1. Click Settings.
    2. Click “Set pages” in the “On startup” section.
    3. Enter https://ixquick.com/eng/ in the “Add a new page” text field.
    4. Click OK.
    5. Click “Manage search engines…”
    6. At the bottom of the “Search Engines” dialog, click in the “Add a new search engine” field.
    7. Enter
    8. Click “Make Default”.
    9. Click “Done”.


    1. Click the Tools Menu.
    2. Click Options.
    3. Click the General tab.
    4. In “When Firefox Starts” dropdown, select “Show my home page”.
    5. Enter https://ixquick.com/eng/ in the “Home Page” text field.
    6. Click one of the English options here.
    7. Check box for “Start using it right away.”
    8. Click “Add”.


    1. Click “Manage Search Engines
    2. Click “Add”
    3. Enter
      Name: ixquick
      Keyword: x
      Address: https://ixquick.com/do/search?lui=english&language=english&cat=web&query=%s
    4. Check “Use as default search engine”
    5. Click “OK”

    Internet Explorer:

        _     ___  _ __        ___   _ _____ ___ 
       | |   / _ \| |\ \      / / | | |_   _|__ \
       | |  | | | | | \ \ /\ / /| | | | | |   / /
       | |__| |_| | |__\ V  V / | |_| | | |  |_| 
       |_____\___/|_____\_/\_/   \___/  |_|  (_) 
      (This is not a good strategy for privacy.)



    You are now one step closer to not having every motion on the Internet recorded.

    This is a relatively small measure, though. You can improve your resistance to prying eyes (e.g., browser fingerprinting) by using the Torbrowser Bundle, or even better, Tails, and routing your web usage through Tor, i2p, or FreeNet.

    If you would like more on subjects like anonymyzing, privacy and security then drop me a line via email or Bitmessage me: BM-2D9tDkYEJSTnEkGDKf7xYA5rUj2ihETxVR

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    Permalink: 20130530.hey.you.get.offa.my.data

    Mon, 20 May 2013

    Debugging PHP with Xdebug

    I have finished (more-or-less) making a demo for the Xdebug togglin’ add-on/extension that I’ve developed.

    One hundred percent of the feedback about this project has been from Chrome users. Therefore, the Chrome extension has advanced with the new features (v2.0), allowing selective en/dis-ableing portions of Xdebug’s output. That is you can set Xdebug to firehose mode (spitting out everything) and then squelch anything not immediately needed at the browser layer. The other information remains present, hidden in the background, available if you decide that you need to have a look.

    The Firefox version is still at v1.2 but will be brought up to speed as time permits.

    If you want that firehose mode for Xdebug, here’s a sample of some settings for your configuration ‘.ini’ file.

    The demo is here.

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    Permalink: 20130520.debugging.php.with.xdebug

    Wed, 15 May 2013

    Git: an untracked mess?

    There may be times when you find your Git repository burdened with scads of untracked files left aside while twiddling, testing bug patches, or what-have-youse.

    For the especially scatter-brained among us, these things can go unchecked until a day when the useful bits of a git status scroll off the screen due to utterly unimportant stuff. Well, hopefully unimportant.

    But we’d better not just cleave away everything that we haven’t checked in. You wonder:
    What if there’s something important in one of those files?

    You are so right!

    Let’s fix this!

    Firstly, we want a solution that’s reproducible. Only want to invent this wheel once, right?

    Let’s begin with the play-by-play:

    Git, we want a list of what isn’t tracked: git ls-files -o --exclude-standard -z

    We’ll back these files up in our home directory (~), using CPIO but we don’t want a poorly-named directory or finding anything will become its own obstacle. So we’ll take use the current date (date +%Y-%m-%d), directory (pwd) and branch we’re using (git branch) and we’ll twist all of it into a meaningful, but appropriate, directory name using sed. git ls-files -o --exclude-standard -z | cpio -pmdu ~/untracked-git-backup-`date +%Y-%m-%d`.`pwd | sed 's,^\(.*/\)\?\([^/]*\),\2,'`.`git branch | grep "*" | sed "s/* //"`/

    Then Tell Git to remove the untracked files and directories: git clean -d -f

    Ahhhh… Much better. Is there anything left out? Perhaps. What if we decide that moving these files away was a mistake? The kind of mistake that breaks something. If we realize right away, it’s easily-enough undone. But what if we break something and don’t notice for a week or two? It’d probably be best if we had an automated script to put things back the way they were. Let’s do that.

    Simple enough. We’ll just take the opposite commands and echo them into a script to be used in case of emergency.

    Create the restore script (restore.sh), to excuse faulty memory: echo "(cd ~/untracked-git-backup-`date +%Y-%m-%d`.`pwd | sed 's,^\(.*/\)\?\([^/]*\),\2,'`.`git branch | grep "*" | sed "s/* //"`/; find . -type f \( ! -iname 'restore.sh' \) | cpio -pdm `pwd`)" > ~/untracked-git-backup-`date +%Y-%m-%d`.`pwd | sed 's,^\(.*/\)\?\([^/]*\),\2,'`.`git branch | grep "*" | sed "s/* //"`/restore.sh

    Make the restore script executable: chmod u+x ~/untracked-git-backup-`date +%Y-%m-%d`.`pwd | sed 's,^\(.*/\)\?\([^/]*\),\2,'`.`git branch | grep "*" | sed "s/* //"`/restore.sh

    Lastly, the magic, compressed into one line that will stop if any command does not report success: a='untracked-git-backup-'`date +%Y-%m-%d`.`pwd | sed 's,^\(.*/\)\?\([^/]*\),\2,'`.`git branch | grep "*" | sed "s/* //"`; git ls-files -o --exclude-standard -z | cpio -pmdu ~/$a/ && git clean -d -f && echo "(cd ~/$a/; find . -type f \( ! -iname 'restore.sh' \) | cpio -pdm `pwd`)" > ~/$a/restore.sh && chmod +x ~/$a/restore.sh; unset a

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    Permalink: 20130515.git.untracked.mess