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

    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