Privacy and Security
In this open series, you can contribute shows that are on the topic of Privacy and Security
We previously looked at the NIST Security Framework, which lays out how organizations should manage their network security. That may have seemed a bit dry, so let’s look at this case study to put some flesh on those dry bones. Failing to manage your security risks properly can have significant consequences.
The Quantum Computer is supposed to be a game changer that renders encryption useless. But is this true? We look at how quantum computing will affect encryption going forward, and show that we are already working on quantum-resistant encryption.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology of the US Government issued the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, which has recommendations for private companies and mandates for U.S. Government agencies. For people who work in information security in an Enterprise environment, this framework may be of interest, so we will take a walk through it.
The Computer Emergency Readiness Team of the US Department of Homeland Security issues a security bulletin, ST15-002, which has tips for home network security. In this episode we review these tips and why they make sense.
Create an empty file of a predetermined size:
$ fallocate --length 512M foo.img
Create a LUKS container on it:
$ cryptsetup --verify-passphrase luksFormat foo.img
Set it up:
$ sudo cryptsetup luksOpen foo.img foo
$ ls /dev/mapper
Make a file system on it:
$ sudo mkfs.ext2 /dev/mapper/foo
If you don't need it for anything now, you can close it:
$ sudo cryptsetup luksClose foo
$ ls /dev/mapper
Mount it as a usable filesystem:
$ sudo mkdir /crypt
$ sudo mount /dev/mapper/foo /crypt
Depending on your system configuration, you may need to set up reasonable permissions:
$ sudo mkdir /crypt/mystuff
$ sudo chown klaatu:users /crypt/mystuff
$ sudo chmod 770 /crypt/mystuff
$ echo "hello world" >> /crypt/mystuff/file.txt
When you're finished using your encrypted vault, unmount and close it:
$ sudo umount /crypt
$ sudo cryptsetup luksClose foo
Hello and welcome to Hacker Public Radio, I’m Edward Miro and for this episode I decided to record on a personal experience I had recently helping a client catch a Craigslist Scam. This will be part two in my series I’m calling “Information Security for Everyone”. As with most of the content I publish in the world of INFOSEC, my goal is to present the information in a way that a majority of people can get value from and anyone can play this for a friend, colleague or family member and make it easy for the non-hackers in our lives to understand. This particular episode shows a powerful way social-engineering can be implemented to steal money from unsuspecting victims and I will break down a few main points and red flags to look out for at the end.
A couple weeks ago I was sitting with a client when she asked me offhandedly if I’d ever sent a Moneygram before. I told her I had and ask curiously why she wanted to know. She explained that she was very excited to be adopting a puppy from online and she needed to send $350 USD to the service that ships pets across the country. This immediately caused my hacker-sense to start tingling so I probed a bit more about the transaction.
I asked if she had spoken to the seller on the phone, and she said she hadn’t. I said that seemed weird, but she assured me that the seller said it had to do with her religion. I wasn’t aware of any religious prohibitions to speaking on the phone that also allowed using Craigslist, but okay. I told her that that seemed a bit fishy to me. She asserted that she thought it did too at first, but she knew it was legit because she wasn’t sending the money to the seller, it was being sent to a third party pet transportation company that the seller had had contact her. She even showed the website of the company on her cell phone, which to be blunt, to my eyes looked extremely janky. I asked her if we could sit down for a few minutes and take a look at a few details before she sends anyone any money. She reluctantly agreed and really wanted this puppy.
The first thing I asked to look at was the emails back and forth from the seller. I checked Google and all other major social media sites for the sellers name. No matches. Couldn’t Google the sellers email address due to the Craigslist email relay system. This in and of itself might be okay, we all use pseudonyms online sometimes and Craigslist is a site you might not wanna use your real name. Fine.
She then showed me the email thread with the shipping company.
The first strange thing I noticed from the emails was the link to the pet shipping company. The name didn’t match the URL in the link. You’d think a business would be able to get their own name right. I also saw that if you Googled the name given by the shipper, it’s extremely similar to a legitimate pet shipping company and indeed that legit company comes up as the first site found due to Google “fixing” our query. When you go to the link in the email however, the site itself was terrible to my eyes, but not to my client who is not as seasoned as I am at catching scams. I also showed her that the “company” didn’t have any social media presence. At all. No Facebook, Twitter, anything. Also the email address that was contacting her was
She also told me she had spoken to the shippers on the phone and I asked if she still had their number. She did, but she told me she couldn’t ever get through when she called them and they’d always have to call her back. I asked for the number and called it on my phone. It was a Google Voice number! Not only that it was set to screening mode. She also told me when he did call her, he was rude and tried to get her to hurry up and send the money. I told her I was 100% confident this was a scam and I advised her to not go through with the deal.
At this point she was extremely unhappy, but felt it was still a legitimate transaction because she had pictures sent to her of not only the puppy, but of the puppy in the shipping crate at the shipping company waiting for payment to be shipped. She explained that it’s not like it was a person trying to sell dogs or from a puppy mill. It was a lady giving it away for free and the money was for was the shipping. She just didn’t see why a scammer would go to the trouble of doing that and felt the pictures were authentic. I asked her to save all the images to her device and then showed her a site she could use to do reverse image searches. Before she did it, I asked her if she agreed that if this wasn’t a scam those pictures wouldn’t exist anywhere on the internet. She agreed and each of the pictures was found at least 9 other places online. Her heart sank and she didn’t have any further rebuttals to my concerns. She knew it was a scam and I just saved her from losing at least $350 USD. Not to mention that the scammer would have also asked for more money later for “shots” and “insurance”. Who knows how far they might have gotten.
So here are the main red flags:
- Seller wouldn’t talk on phone
- Seller name didn’t seem legitimate
- Name of shipping company didn’t match URL in email
- Googling company name shows close match with legitimate company
- Company website very poorly designed and implemented
- Company has no social media presence
- Email address of contact at company using generic email address and not a legit domain
- Contact at company could only call her and she was never able to make inbound calls
- Phone number of company was Google Voice number
- Reverse image searches showed “proof” photos unoriginal
A few of the tricks used by the scammers in this scam to make it more successful:
- Listed as adoption versus a sale to alleviate concern
- Handed off to “second party” to build legitimacy
- Use cute puppy pictures to appeal to emotion and overrule suspicion
- Counted on target not paying attention to detail
- Shipper established a sense of urgency
She was very thankful and I told her to be very careful when anyone from online ever asks her to send money. I told her in all likelihood this was probably one person the whole time, hence why the person adopting out the dog “couldn’t talk on the phone”. They were also probably not even in this country as we know many of these scams aren’t. She did say that the shippers English wasn’t good. I also told her to make she shares this experience with all her friends and family. I always feel the best way to handle someone getting caught in a scam is to be on their side and never shame them. We are all susceptible to scams and social engineering and the best way to proceed is to empower them to share what they’ve learned. I also sent her a link to an article on the BBB site about these very types of scams that I’ll also link below. She was shocked how similar her experience was to the ones explained on the article.
Well, thank you for taking the time to listen to my experience helping a client avoid getting caught in the all too common Craigslist scam. I hope this will help any non-hackers in your life and like I say in all my podcasts, I don’t claim to know all there is to know and love feedback and any opportunities to learn more or collaborate with others in the field. As with most of the research and articles I’ve written in the past, these are geared toward standard users in a business setting and are meant to be a jumping off point for further research and to be a foundation for cyber security 101 level training classes. If you like what I do, and want to have me come speak to your team, or just wanna chat, feel free to email me.
Thank you and have a great day!
Hello and welcome to Hacker Public Radio, I’m Edward Miro and for this episode I decided to record an episode on the importance of good passwords. This will be part one in a series of podcasts I’m going to call “Information Security for Everyone”. As with most of the content I create in the world of infosec, my goal is to present the information in a way that a majority of people can get value from it and anyone can play this for a friend, colleague or family member and make it easy for the non-hackers in our lives to understand.
One of the first things most people think about when it comes to online safety is their password. We all know that passwords are to our online accounts what keys are for our locks. Would you use the same key for your house, your car, your office and your safety deposit box? Of course not. And if you did, what would happen if a bad guy could get a copy of just that one key? They’d have access to everything. With so much of our personal, confidential, financial and medical information accessible from our various online accounts, what can we do to make things as safe as possible?
For me personally I employ and advise a three faceted approach:
- Complex passwords
- Unique passwords
- Two-factor authentication (where available)
Clearly the solution is to use a unique password for each account and make them complicated enough that an attacker couldn’t guess it or crack it in an amount of time that would be actionable. One problem this presents to general users is the inconvenience and difficulty in remembering these passwords or storing them in a secure way. This leads into my first bit of advice:
My recommendation is to use a password manager. I’m going to make references to managers such as LastPass because that’s the one I’ve always used, but I’m not saying it’s the best or would be the best for you. There are many great options and I would rather people use the one that works the best for them and not merely the one I like best. Anyways. Applications like LastPass give you the ability to store all passwords in your encrypted “vault” and then request them through browser add-ons or standalone applications. They also have built in features that allow you to generate secure passwords at any length or complexity.
When using a password manager, all you have to remember is your ONE master password. When you sign in, the manager can then decrypt all your saved passwords and let you use them. When I sign up for a website, I use LastPass to generate the longest and most complex password supported by the site and it gets stored in my vault safely for later use.
There are various options online to choose from and I suggest you do some research and try a few different ones to see what is comfortable for you. One thing to consider when using a password manager is that the master password is your single point of failure and should be a long and complex password that you don’t use ANYWHERE else.
If you’re wondering how to come up with a secure password that you can remember there are various strategies online, but I follow this:
Take a poem, song lyrics or phrase that is easy for you to remember. For this example I’ll use the phrase:
"The stars at night are big and bright. Deep in the heart of Texas."
Then I take the first letters from each word and that gives me:
Then I swap out the vowels for some numbers/special characters. And that gives me:
I checked that password on Dashlane’s Password Strength Checker, and got the following results:
It would take a computer about 204 million years to crack your password
And that’s just an example of a very secure password that I thought up in just a few seconds that I probably won’t ever be able to forget it.
2FA (two-factor authentication)
Another very important recommendation I want to touch on in this episode is using two-step authentication. I use it for all accounts that offer it and it’s very easy to set-up and use. It works in tandem with an application on my mobile device called Google Authenticator(though there are others and like LastPass this is just the one I use) and it’s available for Android and iOS. After you install the app, you access the security settings for the account you want to protect and register it with your device.
What it does is provide a “second” password when logging it that is only used one time. When you log in, the site will prompt for the two-step authentication code, you then open the Google Authenticator app and the code for the session will be listed. The codes are only available for a short time and are constantly changing. This makes someone gaining unauthorized access to your account VERY difficult.
A few closing thoughts
Some information security professionals see a password manager as insecure due to it being a single point of failure. I can understand this and would respond that although this might be true, having a complex master password and using the manager in conjunction with two-step authentication makes it a pretty safe and solid system. And even if there is a breach, none of my passwords are the same and changing them is incredibly fast and easy with a manager.
Also, I usually don’t recommend keeping hard copies of passwords, but if you can guarantee the physical security of your password list, this in my opinion is preferable to using the same, insecure password for all your accounts.
Please remember, if you’re like most people on the internet and you use an easy to crack password or the same password on all your sites, all it takes is one compromised account to give bad guys access to everything.
I’m also including a list of links in the bottom of the show notes to everything I mentioned and also a link to the site Have I Been Pwned. This is a service that collects accounts that have been involved in hacks and lets anyone search for their email address and see if their information is already compromised. If it is, do this NOW:
- Setup a password manager with a strong master password.
- Change all your passwords using the built in password generator in your password manager and save them in your vault as you go.
- In the future when breaches happen, it’s incredibly easy to change your password and you’ll also rest easy knowing that the password obtained can’t get them into anything else.
I know this will take a long time. But it’s worth it. Then, you only have to remember one master password and you will be exponentially safer online.
I also linked SplashData’s “The Top 100 Worst Passwords of 2018”. PLEASE don’t use anything on this list.
Well, thank you for taking the time to listen to my basic introduction to passwords. I hope this will help any non-hackers in your life and like I say in all my podcasts, I don’t claim to know all there is to know and love feedback and any opportunities to learn more or collaborate with others in the field. As with most of the research and articles I’ve written in the past, these are geared toward standard users in a business setting and are meant to be a jumping off point for further research and to be a foundation for cyber security 101 level training classes. If you like what I do, and want to have me come speak to your team, or just wanna chat, feel free to email me.
Thank you and have a safe 2019!
Ghostscript is the open source implementation of Postscript. You can read its docs online.
To compress a big PDF into something possibly smaller:
$ gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dPDFSETTINGS=/screen -dBATCH -sOutputFile=output.pdf example.pdf
That renders basically the same PDF with all images down-res'd to 72 DPI. Other valid setting profiles are ebook, printer, and prepress.
To render a version of a PDF without any raster images in it, making it cheaper and faster to print:
gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dPDFSETTINGS=/screen -dBATCH -dFILTERIMAGE -sOutputFile=output.pdf example.pdf
The FILTERIMAGE option drops raster images from the file. The FILTERVECTOR option filters vector images, and FILTERTEXT filters text.
If pdftk is not available for your OS, you can use pdf-stapler instead for cutting and concatenating PDF files. It doesn't deal with metadata as well as pdftk does, however.
It's worth noting that pdftk is available as a snap package https://snapcraft.io/pdftk.
It's also worth noting that this is actually episode 2 in a series about steganography.
Scribus is a page layout application. If you are familiar with common publishing industry tools, then Scribus will be very familiar to you, but if you're used to word processors or graphic applications, then Scribus will probably confuse you. In this episode, Klaatu talks about the workflow of page layout, and how to do some basic tasks in Scribus.
The example files Klaatu produces in Scribus are available at http://slackermedia.info/tank/scribus-by-example.tar.gz
Fair warning: this episode is actually "about" steganography. The key you need is OGG.
Been getting a lot of updated policy changes lately ? Here's why !
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The GDPR aims primarily to give control to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU. It was adopted on 14 April 2016, and after a two-year transition period, becomes enforceable on 25 May 2018.
The following information is taken from the Guide to the General Data Protection
Regulation (GDPR) from the Information Commissioners Office in the UK, which is released under a Open Government Licence v3.0.
Principles of the GDPR
Under the GDPR, the data protection principles set out the main responsibilities for organisations.
Article 5 of the GDPR requires that personal data shall be:
Article 5(2) requires that:
- a) processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals;
- b) collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes;
- c) adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed;
- d) accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay;
- e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals; and
- f) processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures.
- the controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate, compliance with the principles.
What information does the GDPR apply to?
The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’ meaning any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier.
Sensitive personal data
Special category data is personal data which the GDPR says is more sensitive, and so needs more protection.
- ethnic origin
- trade union membership
- biometrics (where used for ID purposes)
- sex life
- sexual orientation
Criminal offence data
The Data Protection Bill deals with this type of data in a similar way to special category data, and sets out specific conditions providing lawful authority for processing it.
What are the lawful bases for processing?
You can only process personal information if you have:
- Consent: the individual has given clear consent for you to process their personal data for a specific purpose.
- Contract: the processing is necessary for a contract you have with the individual, or because they have asked you to take specific steps before entering into a contract.
- Legal obligation: the processing is necessary for you to comply with the law (not including contractual obligations).
- Vital interests: the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life.
- Public task: the processing is necessary for you to perform a task in the public interest or for your official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law.
- Legitimate interests: the processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party unless there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides those legitimate interests. (This cannot apply if you are a public authority processing data to perform your official tasks.)
- The right of access
- The right to rectification
- The right to erasure
- The right to restrict processing
- The right to data portability
- The right to object
- Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling.
- Accountability and governance
- Data protection by design and default
- Data protection officers
- Codes of conduct and certification
- Guide to the data protection fee
- International transfers
What is trust? How do you get it? How can you exploit it? How can you keep from being exploited?
TLS 1.3 was just adopted, and it provides improved security for all Web communications. We take a look at what the protocol says and look at the controversies around its adoption. http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=980
Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange is used in a security technique called Forward Secrecy that aims to secure your encrypted communications from future decryption by unauthorized entities. While it does provide additional security it is not absolutely bullet-proof. So while we explain how it works and provides security, we will also discuss how it can go wrong. For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=957
Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange is based on work initially done by Ralph Merkle, and remains one of the key developments in secure communication over the Internet. In this episode I try to explain just how this works, with an example of a calculated key exchange.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=955
I had the opportunity to present a talk on SSL Certificates at our local LUG, the Washtenaw Linux Users Group, which uses some material from a previous HPR episode, but may be of interest to our listeners nonetheless. Because this was a lengthy presentation I have divided it into sections. This is the second section which will explore some of the problems that we have with SSL Certificates, and how we might address those problems. The first section contains our description of how SSL Certificates work.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=686
I had the opportunity to present a talk on SSL Certificates at our local LUG, the Washtenaw Linux Users Group, which uses some material from a previous HPR episode, but may be of interest to our listeners nonetheless. Because this was a lengthy presentation I have divided it into sections. This first section explains how SSL Certificates work, and the second one will explore some of the problems that we have with SSL Certificates, and how we might address those problems. For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=655
I had the opportunity to present a talk on the LastPass intrusion at our local LUG, the Washtenaw Linux Users Group, which expanded on a previous HPR episode and added some additional material that I think might be of interest to our listeners. I still stand by my claim that LastPass was not seriously affected by the intrusion and is still an excellent security solution for most computer users.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=841
In Episode 1900, Ahuka advised you not to expose the ssh service to the Internet on the default port 22, there we agree. This is called "Security Through Obscurity". Whenever possible, server functions exposed to the Internet should be on non-default port numbers (the exception being HTTP on a public web server). I disagree however, in Ahuka's method of changing the port. He said you should change the port on the server itself:
Open /etc/ssh/sshd_config file and look for line Port 22 and change line to Port 2222. Restart sshd server. systemctl restart sshd
Sshd is running on a non-standard port, connection attempts to the system will fail. You need to connect using following command:
$ ssh -p 2222 user@your-ip OR $ ssh -p 2222 firstname.lastname@example.org
This could make sense if you manage a business or school network, where you have numerous users within your network with whom you share varying levels of trust. Still, I don't think anyone who can brute force your shh logon or shared keys would be stymied by a simple change of ports. But Ahuka also mentioned home networks, and I think we would rather keep things simple. I would humbly suggest keep ssh servers set to port 22 internally, and using a technology called "port forwarding" available on most consumer routers. Port forwarding is simply an administrator configured table that redirects incoming traffic on one IP port to a specific internal IP address and IP port on your internal network. In fact, unless you have only one PC connected directly to you ISP with no router or firewall, you will still need to setup port forwarding to tell the router which machine on your network the for which incoming communication is intended.
In other words, let's say you've enabled ssh on port 40001 of a machine with an internal address of 192.168.1.5. You try to login remotely via ssh on port 40001 using the external IP assigned to you by your ISP (which is taken from a range assigned to them by the IANA). The external IP of your router should be displayed on your router's status page, or you could type "what is my IP" into Google. Instead of an IP in the range 192.168.x.y, like you are probably using internally, your external address will be in the Class A or B range, for instance 126.96.36.199.
So let's say you have ssh server running on port 40001 on a machine with IP adddress 192.168.1.5 on your home network. Your server has an external address of 188.8.131.52. You are at work or on vaction or whatever and you want to ssh into that machine on your home network, i.e,
ssh -p 40001 email@example.com
Unless the router itself supports ssh server (entirely possible with third party Linux based firmwares like Open-WRT and DD-WRT), if you haven't configured port fowarding, the router won't have any idea what to do with an incoming request on port 40001. You need to set up your port forwarding table in your router (don't worry, it's all point and click). IP forwarding may be under Advanced, in the menus, or Security, or Firewall, or a combination of the above.
You will be asked to enter the external port number (in our example, 40001), TCP or UDP or both (in our case, ssh is both, so you may have to create two separate entries), the internal IP address (in our example 192.168.1.5) and the internal port number (if you changed it internally as Ahuka recommended, in our example 40001, but, and this is the whole point of this podcast, you are going to have to set up port forwarding anyway, so why change the port number locally in the first place? If the terms TCP (Transport Control Protocol) and UDP (User Data Protocol) are unfamiliar to you, the difference can easily be explained. Using TCP, the computer transmitting data stops every few packets (I think the default is three, but don't hold me to it) until it gets an acknowledgment from the receiver that the packets were successfully received, then the sender continues. With UDP, the sender blurts out the whole transmission without caring whether the receiver go it or not.
Wikipedia has a great article on official and unofficial standardized port numbers. Once you get into five digits, conflicts to already assigned ports are rare, but it's still best to consult the Wiki. The higher numbers are generally not officially assigned, some particular software product is just "squatting" on the number. In fact, using the port number for a technology you are certain will never be used on your network may further obfuscate the service for which you are actually using it. You may think port 40001 is surely high enough to be free of conflict, but the Wiki says 40000 is used by "SafetyNET p Real-time Industrial Ethernet protocol".
Another advantage of port redirection is you could use a different external port number with every host on your network, i.e., 40001 redirects to you server, 40002 redirects to your desktop, 40003 redirects to the old laptop in the kid's room, etc. Personally, I'd only have port redirection into a single machine that is connected persistently (like a server), and the ssh from it into other hosts on the network (yes, this would be a connection of at least three nested shells). You can even run graphical programs over ssh with the -X argument, but I'm leaving that on for later discussion. Of course, we will loose that functionality when we move from x-server to Wayland, so if you need a GUI you may have to investigate technologies like VNC or VPN.
Of course, everything depends on having a static IP locally on the ssh server (either set on host itself or manual assignment of IP on the router, if possible). You either need a static external address on the WAN (i.e., external address as seen from the Internet) side or employ a domain forwarding service. Also keep in mind, once we get Ivp6, everything above goes out the window.
When you first try to login to a remote server you need to authenticate yourself, which means you have to demonstrate that you have rights to be on that server. You can do this in several ways:
- Password You authenticate to the server by typing in your password. This is easy because you can generally remember your password, and it means you can easily login from any computer with that knowledge. This is still the most common authentication mechanism for SSH. It is also the least secure.
- Public Key This is much more secure. It involves the creation of a key pair, of course. It is possible to use a key pair generated by PGP or GPG in the most current versions (version 2.0.13 introduced support for this). But there is a long established method using the Unix program ssh-keygen. This is very similar to generating a key pair as we discussed earlier. You run the program ssh-keygen, harvest some entropy, generate a passphrase to protect it, and so on.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=733
So as we saw in the introductory tutorial, SSH uses the Client-Server model. Now, technically a server is just the machine you are connecting to, and there is no reason in principle that it could not be another desktop, a laptop, or even a telephone if it has the appropriate software. and in the previous tutorial we showed how you can easily install and set up an ssh server on your home network using another computer or a Raspberry Pi so that you can experiment with these commands. The model really reduces to you as the client, and the other machine as the server. As with all Internet connections there are standards and protocols involved. The original Telnet communicated over TCP through port 23. Because SSH was conceived as a replacement, it used the same TCP protocols, and was assigned the adjacent port number of 22.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=726
My LastPass Alternative
Save file to a location that will be synced between devices. Im my case Owncloud. Desktop Client syncs available for Linux, Windows and Mac. Mobile clients for Android, IOS, and even blackberry. Syncing note: I do not launch the desktop client on login. This allows the owncloud client to sync files before launching keepass. Also, I exit keypass before logging out for the same reason.
For integration with browser, there are
And finally when on machines I don't control:
On same server with ownlcloud, can open files
A walk through of how to use diceware (http://world.std.com/~reinhold/diceware.html) to create a passphrase and update your GPG key to use it.
The best way to get familiarity with the concepts we will discuss is by experimentation. I think that it is becoming more common these days for people to own more than one computer and set them up in a network. And with cheap computers like Raspberry Pi it is really easy to get started. In this tutorial I want to discuss how you can set up such a server for your experiments in ssh. I encourage you to do this even though I dont intend this series to focus on server administration. The idea is that by practising these these techniques behind a good firewall you can get some familiarity with them before you get out on the Internet where it matters. For most Linux users, at least, installing and setting up a server is really simple, and you can do it minutes.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=847
In 1995 there was a password-sniffing attack on the network of the University of Helsinki in Finland, and this lead a researcher there, Tatu Ylönen, to create the first SSH implementation. SSH is an acronym for Secure Shell, and expresses the idea that you can securely log in and get a shell on a remote server. This was initially released as free software, but in later versions he took it proprietary. But the developers at OpenBSD decided that a free software implementation was needed, and they created OpenSSH, which is the basis for most implementations today.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=722
How to Hide a Password Using a Password Card
It's okay to write your password down and keep it in your wallet, but it's best to try to hide it as well. Here's how to keep your password secure and handy at the same time by embedding it in a password card.
Generate a fancy symbol-and-color-coded password card at passwordcard.org: http://www.passwordcard.org/en. Follow the directions there on how to use it best.
Make your own. Use the password generation package
pwgen on Linux to generate a whole bunch of random passwords. In the following example, the
-s flag tells it you want secure passwords that are generated randomly, not suitable for human memory. The
-y flag tells it to include special characters, and
24 indicates how many characters each password should contain.
pwgen -sy 24
Then either use one of the passwords that was generated from this command or embed your own existing password somewhere inside the giant block of gibberish such that only you will know where your password begins and ends. You can put a copy of this in your wallet.
If you want extra security make two columns or increase the character count.
On June 15, LastPass disclosed that it had been hacked, and I think by now just about everyone has heard about it. I know I received questions because I have recommended LastPass often, and my advice has been to stay with them. What I want to do now is explain exactly why this was not quite the big deal it was made out to be in some quarters, and that anyone telling you to stop using password vaults is only asking you to lower your own security.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=841
Previously we looked at the issues around TrueCrypt and Heartbleed, and noted that a fundamental problem was that technologies we rely on to be safe are often developed and maintained by volunteers or people on a shoestring budget. There is now more news worth looking at in this respect, so it is time for an update.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=825
NoScript also blocks Adobe Flash and Java which can be resource hogs. A simple click will activate them. Scripts can be enabled or disabled by site.
HTTPS Everywhere will automatically direct your browser to a secure https version of sites you visit, if available. Great for security (obviously).
Adblock Edge is a great ad blocker. It blocks all ads no matter how obtrusive they are. Does not contain hidden white-list like more popular ad blocker: Adblock Plus.
Last time we looked at some basics about how TLS and SSL work, and saw that this is basically an application of the same technology used to encrypt e-mails. But we also noted that there are some problems with this approach. We need to recognize that in security there is never a permanent solution, and that vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered, and ideally then being fixed. Some of these may involve highly technical issues about cryptographic methods, but I think the largest category of issues is about the processes around the use of certificates.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=686
Digital Signatures are something that is very important in understanding security on the Internet. While we have seen it in the context of personal e-mail, the applications are much broader, in particular to the use of certificates to establish communication.
Recall from our discussion of e-mail that there are two things you can do with an e-mail using PGP or GPG. First is you can encrypt the message, which you do using the public key of the recipient, and then they can decrypt the message using their private key. The other was putting a digital signature on a message. But how does that work? - For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=655
Previously we looked at Public Key encryption, which is also called Asymmetric Encryption because it uses two different keys for the encryption and decryption. This allows us to solve one of the biggest problems in secure encrypted communication, which is key distribution. Because the public key can be freely distributed, you dont need to maintain security around the process of distributing keys. Symmetric encryption, on the other hand, relies on a shared key that is used for both encryption and decryption. An example of this is the one-time pad, where you printed up a pad of paper that contained various keys, and each one was used only once. As long as no one can get the key, it is unbreakable, but the big weakness was key distribution. How do you get the one-time pad into the hands of your correspondent? And you would need to do this with separate one-time pads for each person you needed to communicate with. These are the kinds of problems that made asymmetric encryption so popular. Finally, symmetric key crypto cannot be used to reliably create a digital signature. The reason should be clear. If I have the same secret key you used to sign a message, I can alter the message, use the shared secret key myself, and claim you sent it. - For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=650
Right now for most of us the key to any security in our online life is the degree of entropy in our passwords. So what is entropy, and how does it affect our passwords?
Entropy is in general the degree of randomness or disorder in any given system. Sometimes it is very easy to assess, such as a password of 1234, which all too many people use. Because it is a simple sequence, there is no real randomness at all, and would be quickly guessed. And as we saw in the last tutorial, such passwords are quickly discovered in a dictionary attack. There are things you can do to make it less likely that your password will be cracked and used against you. - For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=530
Today, the most common way of providing security in giving access to data or systems is through the use of passwords. Practically every online site now expects you to create an account with a password, which will let you post comments, order products, conduct business, or just post to social media. The implication is that insisting on passwords provides some level of security. Now, following on our last tutorial we should ask a few questions about just how effective this measure is, since someone posting in your name to Twitter is significantly different from someone accessing your bank account. And since the assets being protected are very different, it would be reasonable to approach the problem of security somewhat differently in these cases. But given the ubiquity of passwords as the authentication for online accounts, we need to look at the security involved. Note that I am approaching this from the standpoint of the owner of the site in question for this tutorial, and will follow up with a look at your own role in this.
For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=640
Back in 2001 there was a certain incident on September 11 that lead many people to go OMG! We are doomed! We must increase security! Do whatever it takes! And the NSA was happy to oblige. And on 7/7/05 an attack in London added to the frenzy. I think it is fair to say that these security agencies felt they were given a mandate to do anything as long as it stops the attacks, and thus was the overwhelming attack on privacy moved to a whole level higher. To be clear, security agencies are always pushing the limits, it is in their DNA. And politicians have learned that you never lose votes by insisting on stronger security and appearing tough. - For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=577
We have looked at e-mail encryption on both Thunderbird and G-Mail, and that is good, but in 2014 a lot of people use mobile phones and tablets for their e-mail. So it makes sense to look at how we can do this. The solution I am going explore here involves two components, the K-9 Android mail client, and APG, the Android Privacy Guard. I am going to stick to what I know, so if you are looking for help with iPhone or iPad, the best I can do is suggest that you try a Google search. On Android, while many people use Gmail, K-9 is a very popular client for people looking for a more traditional POP3 or IMAP client to handle their e-mail needs. So this should be a good solution for many people. As regards APG, I am not aware that anyone has done an audit of this program. It seems to be the most widely recommended, and is probably OK, but I am making no larger claims for it. - For more go to http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=602
Two recent events have shed light on some fundamental issues in getting security in Open Source projects. One of them is a serious bug referred to as "Heartbleed", and the other is the first part of a security audit of the TrueCrypt encryption program. By looking at both of these together and doing a Lessons Learned we can draw some conclusions about what is needed to have security in Open Source projects.
This is a recording of a talk I gave at my local Linux Users Group, the Washtenaw Linux Users Group, or LUGWASH. In this talk I cover some of the theory of encryption, how to generate keys, and using this with Thunderbird, with Gmail, and on an Android phone.
One of the issues in using public key encryption is ensuring you know who you are communicating with, and that you have correctly matched the owner to the key. Otherwise, your communication could be intercepted and decrypted by a third-party. The way we solve this problem is with key signing, which is often done at key signing parties. We discuss all this with Tony Bemus of the Sunday Morning Linux Review.
This guide will walk you through setting up an OpenVPN server as well as a client.
OpenVPN Server Setup
Here is how to install OpenVPN on Centos6. Other RedHat derivatives should be similar.
rpm -Uvh epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm
yum install openvpn -y
Here is how to install OpenVPN on a Debian server. Other Debian derivatives should be similar.
apt-get install openvpn
After the server is installed, the server certificate authority and keys must be generated.
This will be followed by the client keys, and then the server configuration file.
Copy the easy-rsa scripts into /etc/openvpn
cp -rf /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/easy-rsa/2.0/* /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa # on Debian
cp -rf /usr/share/openvpn/easy-rsa/2.0/* /etc/openvpn/easy-rsa # on Centos6
Set Environmental variables
Change the following variables to meet your needs. These are used for your
convenience. They will be used as the defaults during the interactive key
generation session to set the keys attributes.
Source the variables to the current shell
Create certificate authority
Create keys for the server and clients
Setup the server configuration file
gunzip /usr/share/doc/openvpn/examples/sample-config-files/server.conf.gz # on Debian
server 10.10.42.0 255.255.255.0
route 10.10.42.0 255.255.255.0
keepalive 10 120
cipher AES-256-CBC # AES
Restart VPN Service
service openvpn restart
If the service fails to start, try starting openVPN manually.
The resulting errors will allow you to see what item in the
configuration file is incorrect.
Once you are able to get openVPN to start without error,
kill it and restart it using the service command above.
You can verify that the vpn is successfully running by
looking at the configured interfaces using the following
You should now see an entry like the following:
tun0 Link encap:UNSPEC HWaddr 00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00-00
inet addr:10.10.42.1 P-t-P:10.10.42.2 Mask:255.255.255.255
UP POINTOPOINT RUNNING NOARP MULTICAST MTU:1500 Metric:1
RX packets:622255 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:986993 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
RX bytes:40649523 (38.7 MiB) TX bytes:1344026670 (1.2 GiB)
OpenVPN Client Setup
The installation of OpenVPN for linux is the same as described above for
the server. For Windows, Download and run the OpenVPN installer from the
OpenVPN Community Downloads.
NOTE: On Windows, User Account Control (UAC) must be turned
off in order to allow OpenVPN to execute the necessary network
commands to bring up the VPN. Open Start > Control Panel >
User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Change User
Account Control Settings. Set to Never Notify, click OK,
and reboot the machine.
Client Configuration file
For linux, the client config file would go in `/etc/openvpn` just like
the server config. We will name it `client.conf` to clarify that the
device is being configured as an OpenVPN client.
On Windows, the keys and client config files go in the
`C:\Program Files (x86)\OpenVPN\config`. The config file has
to have an `.ovpn` suffix.
remote myvpn.example.org 1194
# on Windows, the format is:
# ca "C:\\Program Files (x86)\\OpenVPN\\config\\ca.crt"
# Windows may also change the file suffix on the crt files to cer.
# So, If Windows complains that it cannot find the file,
# examine its properties to verify the suffix.
# The logs are stored at C:\\Program Files (x86)\\OpenVPN\\log
Copy client key and server ca files onto client
scp ca.crt user@client1:.openvpn/
scp client1.crt user@client1:.openvpn/
scp client1.key user@client1:.openvpn/
On the server create the ccd directory to assign static addresses to clients.
For each device, add a file with the CN name of the key.
In that file, you will indicate the static address to be used and the server IP
For linux, the server IP will be the VPN address of your VPN server. On Windows, the VPN client
will set up a local TAP interface that must be used as the server IP. See the OpenVPN docs for available
client and TAP server IP pairs.
ifconfig-push 10.10.42.10 10.10.42.1
ifconfig-push 10.10.42.13 10.10.42.14
The "Heartbleed" vulnerability in OpenSSL (CVE-2014-0160) is a bounds checking
error in the heartbeat implementation that could return up to 64K of private
data to the client. This can lead to server certificate private keys, session
cookies, clear text passwords, or other sensitive data being leaked from the
server to the client. This vulnerability exists in OpenSSL versions 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f and 1.0.2 beta.
It is important for server administrators to update OpenSSL as soon as possible
and take steps to secure any private data which may have been leaked. This may
include updating server certificates and revoking certificates that may have
Users should ensure that web sites they use have been secured and should update
passwords or other authentication information.
CVE info: http://www.cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2014-0160
Last time we looked at how you can use GPG and Enigmail to digitally sign or encrypt messages in Thunderbird. But today many people use web-based mail, and one of the most popular is Googles Gmail. Others include Outlook.com and Yahoo, but using any of them is pretty similar. So since I have a Gmail account handy, I will use that to demonstrate encryption in web mail accounts.
The important thing you must keep in mind is that this relies on you using your GPG keys to either sign or encrypt the message before it leaves your computer, what Steve Gibson calls Pre-Interent Encryption, or PIE. The flaw in what Lavabit did (discussed in previous lesson) was to use keys that the mail provider controlled, and these keys could be (and were) demanded by the the government.. If you use your own GPG keys that you control, no provider (Google, in this case) is even capable of giving anything to the government other than a blob of random nonsense.
To do this, I will use an extension for Googles Chrome Browser called Mailvelope. This is also available for Firefox, but in my case I use Chrome to access my Gmail account., so using a Chrome extension makes sense for me. The first thing to do is go to the Chrome store, search for Mailvelope, and install it.
For the remainder of the show notes please see http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=546
$ openssl bf -e < my_file > my_file.bf
$ openssl bf -d < my_file.bf > my_file
Now it is time to take a look at practical uses of encryption, and the number one use is for e-mail. Encrypted communication via e-mail is very desirable if you want to keep a secret. In the U.S. the current legal precedents say that any e-mail left on a server is not protected since you would have no expectation of privacy. This precedent was set many years ago when POP3 was the standard for all e-mail and people did not usually leave e-mail on a server. These days, many people use web-based e-mail or use a newer standard called IMAP which by default stores everything on the server. Perhaps you are one of these people, and thought that you had a right to expect privacy, but in the U.S. you dont, and I would expect that in many other countries the situation is no better.
There have been attempts to provide encrypted e-mail service from a service provider, but the problem here is that the provider usually has to have to the key in order to encrypt the e-mail, and if they have the key they can be compelled to give it up. Recently in the U.S. there was a case involving Ladar Levison who ran such a service called Lavabit. Lavabit encrypted mail in transit using TLS encryption, and he had the keys. When his service was used by Edward Snowden, the government came to get the keys. Now, Levison would have given them the key for Snowdens e-mail if he had been served a warrant, as he always made clear to his customers that he would obey proper legal demands. But in this case the government demanded that he turn over all of the keys for all his customers, and this was too far for Levison. He shut down his service rather than cooperate, and is a bit of a hero for that. But it illustrates that you are at the mercy of the service provider. If the government made this demand to Lavabit, you are safe in presuming they had made the same demand to other providers, and that they all cooperated with the government and said nothing to their customers. So it would be mistake to rely on 3rd party mail service providers to give you privacy. You need to control it yourself. But of course, after the last few lessons you know how to do that, and have your secure keys created. You just need to put them to use.
For the remainder of the show notes please see http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=547
I attended FOSDEM 2014 in Brussels, Belgium. During the conference there was a key signing event which I attended. These are my impressions of the process and the follow-up.
In this episode, deepgeek suggests that adding and old, and perhaps laughable
by modern standards, device to your mobile lifestyle. Deepgeek reveals that
said device is the pager, but he eventually gives good reasons for doing so.
The primary reason is that the paging company does not know where you are,
so they can't tell "the man" where you are. Other reasons are redundancy
and trouble interpreting audio. But in the end, you find out why first
responders and medical and fire personal still use these devices, and how you,
as a privacy lover, may reap benefits from using this technology also.
Some links mentioned in case you want to follow them...
Duck Duck Go search on locational privacy
"privacy is dead" audio
USA's two remaining paging companies
don't forget to check out resellers for deals, like "free pager with one year prepaid
A good sms via email webpage
This is the third in our Security and Privacy series, and explains how you can generate keys on the command line in Linux using GPG.
This article appears on my web site at http://www.zwilnik.com/?page_id=456.
Remember to support free software!
In this episode of our Privacy and Security series we look at the fundamentals of encryption and how it has developed over the centuries. We will also develop a basic idea of the current asymmetric public key cryptography.
Some useful sites
This article appears on my web site at http://www.zwilnik.com/.
Remember to support free software!
In this episode of our Privacy and Security series we look at two issues. The first is why we need Privacy, and the second is whether it is practical in the 21st century. I hope to show that we do need it, and that it is both practical and surprisingly easy to do some simple things to obtain it.
Some useful sites
This article appears on my web site at http://www.zwilnik.com/.
Remember to support free software!
Drake continues his series of Misunderstanding privacy.
Daniel J. Solove
Daniel J. Solove