c0d3 :: j0rg3

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

Mon, 02 Jan 2017

Securing a new server

Happy new year! New year means new servers, right?

That provides its own set of interesting circumstances!

The server we’re investigating in this scenario was chosen for being a dedicated box in a country that has quite tight privacy laws. And it was a great deal offered on LEB.

So herein is the fascinating bit. The rig took a few days for the provider to set up and, upon completion, the password for SSHing into the root account was emailed out. (o_0)

In very security-minded considerations, that means that there was a window of opportunity for bad guys to work on guessing the password before its owner even tuned in. That window remains open until the server is better secured. Luckily, there was a nice interface for reinstalling the OS permitting its purchaser to select a password.

My preferred approach was to script the basic lock-down so that we can reinstall the base OS and immediately start closing gaps.


In order:

  • Set up SSH keys (scripted)
  • Disable password usage for root (scripted)
  • Install and configure IPset (scripted. details in next post)
  • Install and configure fail2ban
  • Install and configure PortSentry

  • In this post, we’re focused on the first two steps.


    The tasks to be handled are:

  • Generate keys
  • Configure local SSH to use key
  • Transmit key to target server
  • Disable usage of password for ‘root’ account

  • We’ll use ssh-keygen to generate a key — and stick with RSA for ease. If you’d prefer ECC then you’re probably reading the wrong blog but feel encouraged to contact me privately.

    The code:

    #!/bin/bash
    #configure variables
    remote_host="myserver.com"
    remote_user="j0rg3"
    remote_pass="thisisaratheraquitecomplicatedpasswordbatterystaple" # https://xkcd.com/936/
    local_user=`whoami`
    local_host=`hostname`
    local_date=`date -I`
    local_filename=~/.ssh/id_rsa@$remote_host

    #generate key without passphrase
    ssh-keygen -b 4096 -P "" -C $local_user@local_host-$local_date -f $local_filename

    #add reference to generated key to local configuration
    printf '%s\n' "Host $remote_host" "IdentityFile $local_filename" >> ~/.ssh/config

    #copy key to remote host
    sshpass -p $remote_pass ssh-copy-id $remote_user@$remote_host

    #disable password for root on remote
    ssh $remote_user@$remote_host "cp /etc/ssh/sshd_config /etc/ssh/sshd_config.bak && sed -i '0,/RE/s/PermitRootLogin yes/PermitRootLogin no/' /etc/ssh/sshd_config"

    We just run this script soon as the OS is reinstalled and we’re substantially safer. As a Deb8 install, quickly pulling down fail2ban and PortSentry makes things quite a lot tighter.

    In another post, we’ll visit the 2017 version of making a DIY script to batten the hatches using a variety of publicly provided blocklists.

    Download here:
        ssh_quick_fix.sh


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    Permalink: 20170102.securing.a.new.server

    Wed, 26 Jun 2013

    Terminal suddenly Chinese

    The other day, I was updating one of my systems and I noticed that it had decided to communicate with me in Chinese. Since I don’t know a lick of Chinese, it made for a clumsy exchange.

    It was Linux Mint (an Ubuntu variant), so a snip of the output from an ‘apt-get upgrade’ looked like this: terminal screen with Chinese characters

    I’m pretty sure I caused it — but there’s no telling what I was working on and how it slipped past me. Anyway, it’s not a difficult problem to fix but I imagine it could look like big trouble.

    So, here’s what I did:
    > locale

    The important part of the output was this:
    LANG=en_US.UTF-8
    LANGUAGE=zh_CN.UTF-8

    If you want to set your system to use a specific editor, you can set $EDITOR=vi and then you’re going to learn that some programs expect the configuration to be set in $VISUAL and you’ll need to change it there too.

    In a similar way, many things were using the en_US.UTF-8 set in LANG, but other things were looking to LANGUAGE and determining that I wanted Chinese.

    Having identified the problem, the fix was simple. Firstly, I just changed it in my local environment:
    > LANGUAGE=en_US.UTF-8

    That solved the immediate problem but, sooner or later, I’m going to reboot the machine and the Chinese setting would have come back. I needed to record the change somewhere for the system to know about it in the future.

    > vim /etc/default/locale

    Therein was the more permanent record, so I changed LANGUAGE there also, giving the result:

    LANG=en_US.UTF-8
    LANGUAGE=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_CTYPE=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_NUMERIC=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_TIME=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_COLLATE=”en_US.UTF-8”
    LC_MONETARY=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_MESSAGES=”en_US.UTF-8”
    LC_PAPER=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_NAME=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_ADDRESS=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_TELEPHONE=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_MEASUREMENT=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_IDENTIFICATION=en_US.UTF-8
    LC_ALL=

    And now, the computer is back to using characters that I (more-or-less) understand.


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    Permalink: 20130626.terminal.suddenly.chinese

    Sun, 09 Jun 2013

    ixquick link maker

    In an effort to promote practical privacy measures, when I send people links to search engines, I choose ixquick. However, my personal settings submit my search terms via POST data rather than GET, meaning that the search terms aren’t in the URL.

    Recently, I’ve found myself hand-crafting links for people and then I paste the link into a new tab, to make sure I didn’t fat-finger anything. Not a problem per se, but the technique leaves room for a bit more efficiency. So I’ve taken the ‘A Search Box on Your Website’ tool offered by ixquick and slightly modified the code it offers, to use GET variables, in a new tab where I can then copy the URL and provide the link to others.

    You can test, or use, it here — I may add it (or a variant that just provides you the link) to the navigation bar above. First, though, I’m going to mention the need to the outstanding minds at ixquick because it would make a LOT more sense on their page than on mine.


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    Permalink: 20130609.ixquick.search

    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.

    Chrome:

    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
      ixquick
      ixquick.com
      https://ixquick.com/do/search?lui=english&language=english&cat=web&query=%s
    8. Click “Make Default”.
    9. Click “Done”.

    Firefox:

    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”.

    Opera:

    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.)

    Congratulations!

    \o/

    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