Linux For The Paranoid Does The Work For You

We all know that our activity on the Internet is not that hard to track. It just annoys some people more than others. If you are really hardcore, you’ll learn all the ins and outs of networking to help cover your tracks, but what if you don’t want to invest that kind of time? Maybe, as [TechRepublic] suggests, try Kodachi Linux.

You could, of course, start with your own live image. Then when you boot, you could take the following steps:

  • Randomize your MAC Address
  • Establish a TOR connection through a VPN
  • Route all internet traffic through TOR and use DNS encryption
  • Set up a scheduled task to scramble your MAC address periodically

But that’s what Kodachi does without any real effort on your part.

The distribution is based on Ubuntu, so all the familiar tools are there. There are also a few security and privacy tools included like KeePass, Tox, OnionShare, i2p, and more. The desktop shows a summary of secure network information

Do you need Kodachi? Probably not, if you are a Linux guru. Plus, most people aren’t doing anything that’s that interesting. But if you want to protect your privacy or you are up to something, give Kodachi a try. Then again, if you are that paranoid, maybe that’s just what THEY want you to do. Make your own decisions. You can also check out the video review from [eBuzz Central] below.

Looking for more conventional Linux? Why not Rocky Linux? If you just want a VPN, you can always just use ssh.

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Basics Of Remote Cellular Access: Connecting Via VPN

You’ve got a machine hooked up to the Internet via a shiny new cellular modem, which you plan to administer remotely. You do a quick check on the external IP, and try and log in from another PC. Try as you might, SSH simply won’t connect. What gives?

The reality of the modern internet is that most clients no longer get their own unique IPv4 address. There simply aren’t enough to go around anymore. Instead, most telecommunications operators use Carrier Grade Network Address Translation which allows a single external address to be shared by many customers. This can get in the way of direct connection attempts from the outside world. Even if that’s not the case, most cellular operators tend to block inbound connections by default. However, there is a way around this quandary – using a VPN. Continue reading “Basics Of Remote Cellular Access: Connecting Via VPN”

Linux Fu: VPN For Free With SSH

If you see a lot of banner ads on certain websites, you know that without a Virtual Private Network (VPN), hackers will quickly ravage your computer and burn down your house. Well, that seems to be what they imply. In reality, though, there are two main reasons you might want a VPN connection. You can pay for a service, of course, but if you have ssh access to a computer somewhere on the public Internet, you can set up your own VPN service for no additional cost.

The basic idea is that you connect to a remote computer on another network and it makes it look like all your network traffic is local to that network. The first case for this is to sidestep or enhance security. For example, you might want to print to a network printer without exposing that printer to the public Internet. While you are at the coffee shop you can VPN to your network and print just like you were a meter away from the printer at your desk. Your traffic on the shop’s WiFi will also be encrypted.

The second reason is to hide your location from snooping. For example, if you like watching the BBC videos but you live in Ecuador, you might want to VPN to a network in the UK so the videos are not blocked. If your local authorities monitor and censor your Internet, you might also want your traffic coming from somewhere else.

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Free P2P VPN

People use a VPN — virtual private network — for a lot of reasons. However, for many people it is synonymous with hiding your network traffic, one thing that VPN can do. FreePN is a relatively new open source project that aims to build a free peer-to-peer VPN network. Like TOR, it is decentralized.

Right now, you can download for Ubuntu and Gentoo. There is a way to ask for early access for Debian, Fedora, and Arch. Windows, iOS, MacOS, and Android versions are promised for the future.

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This Week In Security: VPNs, Patch Tuesday, And Plundervault

An issue in Unix virtual private networks was disclosed recently, where an attacker could potentially hijack a TCP stream, even though that stream is inside the VPN. This attack affects OpenVPN, Wireguard, and even IPSec VPNs. How was this possible? Unix systems support all manner of different network scenarios, and oftentimes a misconfiguration can lead to problems. Here, packets sent to the VPNs IP address are processed and responded to, even though they are coming in over a different interface.

The attack initially sounds implausible, as an attacker has to know the Virtual IP address of the VPN client, the remote IP address of an active TCP connection, and the sequence and ACK numbers of that connection. That’s a lot of information, but an attacker can figure it out one piece at a time, making it a plausible attack. Continue reading “This Week In Security: VPNs, Patch Tuesday, And Plundervault”

This Week In Security: The Robots Are Watching, Insecure VPNs, Graboids, And Biometric Fails

A Japanese hotel chain uses robots for nearly everything. Check in, room access, and most importantly, bedside service. What could possibly go wrong with putting embedded Android devices, complete with mics and cameras, right in every hotel room? While I could imagine bedside robots ending badly in many ways, today we’re looking at the possibility that a previous guest installed an app that can spy on the room. The kiosk mode used on these devices left much to be desired. Each bot has an NFC reader, and all it takes is an URL read by that reader to break out of the kiosk jail. From there, a user has full access to the Android system underneath, and can install whatever software they wish.

[Lance Vick] discovered this potential problem way back in July, and after 90 days of inaction has released the vulnerability. More of these hotels are being rolled out for the 2020 Olympics, and this sort of vulnerability is sure to be present in other similar kiosk devices.

VPN Compromise

In March 2018, a server in a Finnish data center was compromised through a remote management system. This was probably a Baseboard Management Controller (BMC), which is as dangerous as it is useful. Most BMCs have their own Ethernet adapter, not controlled by the host computer, and allows a remote user to access the machine just as if they had a monitor and keyboard connected to it. This particularly server was one rented by NordVPN, who was apparently not notified of the data center breach.

So what was captured from this server? Apparently the OpenVPN credentials stored on that server, as well as a valid TLS key. (Document mirror via TechCrunch) It’s been noted that this key is now expired, which does mean that it’s not being actively exploited. There were, however, about 7 months between the server break-in and the certificate expiration, during which time it could have been used for man-in-the-middle attacks.

NordVPN has confirmed the breach, and tried to downplay the potential impact. This report doesn’t seem to entirely match the leaked credentials. An attacker with this data and root access to the server would have likely been able to decrypt VPN traffic on the fly.

Graboid

Named in honor of a certain sci-fi worm, Graboid is an unusual piece of malware aimed at Docker instances. It is a true worm, in that compromised hosts are used to launch attacks against other vulnerable machines. Graboid isn’t targeting a Docker vulnerability, but simply looking for an unsecured Docker daemon exposed to the internet. The malware downloads malicious docker images, one of which is used for crypto-currency mining, while another attempts to compromise other servers.

Graboid has an unusual quirk — the quirk that earned it the name: It doesn’t constantly mine or attempt to spread, but waits over a minute between bursts of activity. This was likely an attempt to mask the presence of mining malware. It’s notable that until discovered, the malicious Docker images were hosted on the Docker Hub. Be careful what images you trust, and look for the “Docker Official Image” tag.

Iran and Misdirection

Remember a couple weeks ago, when we discussed the difficulty of attack attribution? It seems a healthy dose of such paranoia might be warranted. The American NSA and British NCSC revealed that they now suspect Russian actors compromised Iranian infrastructure and deployed malware developed by Iranian coders. The purpose of this seems to have been redirection — to compromise targets and put the blame on Iran. To date it’s not certain that this particular gambit fooled any onlookers, but this is likely not the only such effort.

Android Biometrics

New Android handsets have had a rough week. First, the Samsung Galaxy S10 had an issue with screen protectors interfering with the under-the-screen fingerprint reader. This particular problem seems to only affect fingerprints that are enrolled after a screen protector has been applied. With the protector still in place, anyone’s fingerprint is able to unlock the device. What’s happening here seems obvious. The ultrasonic fingerprint scanner isn’t able to penetrate the screen protector, so it’s recording an essentially blank fingerprint. A patch to recognize these blank prints has been rolled out to devices in Samsung’s home country of South Korea, with the rest of the world soon to follow.

The second new handset is the Google Pixel 4, which includes a new Face Unlock feature. While many have praised the feature, there is trouble in paradise. The Pixel’s Face Unlock works even when the user is asleep or otherwise unmoving. To their credit, Apple’s Face ID also checks for user alertness, trying to avoid unlocking unless the user is intentionally doing so.

The humorous scenario is a child or spouse unlocking your phone while you’re asleep, but a more sobering possibility is your face being used against you unwillingly, or even while unconscious or dead. Based on leaks, it’s likely that there was an “eyes open” mode planned but cut before launch. Hopefully the bugs can be worked out of that feature, and it can be re-added in a future update. Until then, it’s probably best not to use Google’s Face Unlock on Pixel 4 devices.

Hack My House: Opening Raspberry Pi To The Internet, But Not The Whole World

If you’ve followed along with our series so far, you know we’ve set up a network of Raspberry Pis that PXE boot off a central server, and then used Zoneminder to run a network of IP cameras. Now that some useful services are running in our smart house, how do we access those services when away from home, and how do we keep the rest of the world from spying on our cameras?

Before we get to VPNs and port forwarding, there is a more fundamental issue: Do you trust your devices? What exactly is the firmware on those cheap cameras really doing? You could use Wireshark and a smart switch with port mirroring to audit the camera’s traffic. How much traffic would you need to inspect to feel confident the camera never sends your data off somewhere else?

Thankfully, there’s a better way. One of the major features of surveillance software like Zoneminder is that it aggregates the feeds from the cameras. This process also has the effect of proxying the video feeds: We don’t connect directly to the cameras in order to view them, we connect to the surveillance software. If you don’t completely trust those cameras, then don’t give them internet access. You can make the cameras a physically separate network, only connected to the surveillance machine, or just set their IP addresses manually, and don’t fill in the default route or DNS. Whichever way you set it up, the goal is the same: let your surveillance software talk to the cameras, but don’t let the cameras talk to the outside world.

Edit: As has been pointed out in the comments, leaving off a default route is significantly less effective than separate networks. A truly malicious peice of hardware could easily probe for the gateway.

This idea applies to more than cameras. Any device that doesn’t need internet access to function, can be isolated in this way. While this could be considered paranoia, I consider it simple good practice. Join me after the break to discuss port forwarding vs. VPNs.

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