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Continuous Documentation: Hosting Read the Docs on GitHub Pages (2/2)
Introducing BusKill: A Kill Cord for your Laptop
WordPress Multisite on the Darknet (Mercator .onion alias)
Hardening Guide for phpList
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Michael Altfield's gravatar

Monitoring Tor .onion Websites (uptime alerts)

Uptime Monitoring of Tor .onion Websites

This article will present a few simple website availability monitoring solutions for tor onion services.

Problem

So you've just setup an Onion Service for your website, but how often do you actually check that it's working? Maybe it's a .onion alias to an existing website, and you usually only check it on the clearnet. What's to prevent the darknet presence of your website from going down for weeks without you noticing?

Indeed, it's important to monitor your .onion websites so that you can discover and fix issues before your customers do. But how? Most of the popular uptime monitoring solutions (pingdom, freshping, statuscake, etc) certainly can't monitor .onion websites.

This guide will enumerate some solutions for monitoring .onion websites, so you get an email alert if your site goes down.


. . . → Read More: Monitoring Tor .onion Websites (uptime alerts)

Michael Altfield's gravatar

WordPress Multisite on the Darknet (Mercator .onion alias)

How to use a .onion with Wordpress Multisite

This article will describe how to point a .onion domain at your existing wordpress sites (on wordpress multisite) so that your website will be accessible both on the clearnet and directly on the darknet via a .onion domain.

Intro

There are numerous security benefits for why millions of people use tor every day. Besides the obvious privacy benefits for journalists, activists, cancer patients, etc -- Tor has a fundamentally different approach to encryption (read: it's more secure).

Instead of using the untrustworthy X.509 PKI model, all connections to a v3 .onion address is made to a single pinned certificate that is directly correlated to the domain itself (the domain is just a hash of the public key + some metadata).

Moreover, some of the most secure operating systems send all the user's Internet traffic through the Tor network -- for the ultimate data security & privacy of its users.

In short, your users are much safer communicating to your site using a .onion domain than its clearnet domain.

For all these reasons, I wanted to make all my wordpress sites directly available to tor users. Unfortunately, I found that it's not especially easy to point a .onion domain at
. . . → Read More: WordPress Multisite on the Darknet (Mercator .onion alias)

Michael Altfield's gravatar

We're on the Darknet! Visit this site at our tor .onion

Visit this site on our .onion

This website is now accessible on the darknet. And how!

Why

Fun fact: the most popular website on the darknet is facebook. There are hundreds of other popular sites on the darknet, including debian, the CIA, the NYT, the BBC, ProPublica, and--now--michaelaltfield.net.

michaelahgu3sqef5yz3u242nok2uczduq5oxqfkwq646tvjhdnl35id.onion

michaelahgu 3sqef5yz3u2 42nok2uczdu q5oxqfkwq64 6tvjhdnl35i     d.onion

All of these organizations chose to make their websites available over .onion addresses so their website will be accessible from millions of daily tor users without leaving the darknet. Besides the obvious privacy benefits for journalists, activists, cancer patients, etc -- Tor has a fundamentally different approach to encryption (read: it's more secure).

Instead of using the untrustworthy X.509 PKI model, all connections to a v3 .onion address is made to a single pinned certificate that is directly correlated to the domain itself (the domain is just a hash of the public key + some metadata).

Moreover, some of the most secure operating systems send all the user's Internet traffic through the Tor network -- for the ultimate data security & privacy of its users.

In short, your users are much safer communicating to your site using a .onion domain than its clearnet domain.

For all these reasons, I
. . . → Read More: We're on the Darknet! Visit this site at our tor .onion

Michael Altfield's gravatar

Continuous Documentation: Hosting Read the Docs on GitHub Pages (2/2)

Continuous Documentation with Read the Docs (2/2)

This post will describe how add translations (i18n), pdf/epub builds, and branch-specific versioned documentation to a Read-the-Docs-themed sphinx site hosted with GitHub Pages and built with GitHub's free CI/CD tools.

This is part two of a two-part series. Before reading this, you should already be familiar with Continuous Documentation: Hosting Read the Docs on GitHub Pages (1/2).

ⓘ Note: If you don't care about how this works and you just want to make a functional repo, you can just fork my 'rtd-github-pages' GitHub repo.


. . . → Read More: Continuous Documentation: Hosting Read the Docs on GitHub Pages (2/2)

Michael Altfield's gravatar

Continuous Documentation: Hosting Read the Docs on GitHub Pages (1/2)

Continuous Documentation with Read the Docs (1/2)

This post will describe how to host a sphinx-powered site (using the Read the Docs theme) on your own GitHub Pages site, built with GitHub's free CI/CD tools.

ⓘ Note: If you don't care about how this works and you just want to make a functional repo, you can just fork my 'rtd-github-pages' GitHub repo.


. . . → Read More: Continuous Documentation: Hosting Read the Docs on GitHub Pages (1/2)

Michael Altfield's gravatar

Introducing Coviz.org

Projected Future Spread of COVID-10 on Earth (e2a Apr 07)

I woke up on April 2nd to discover that over 1 million people on earth had tested positive for coronavirus. "I couldn't find a website that was extrapolating the COVID-19 dataset, so I decided to build one"

It took over 4 months for COVID-19 to hit 1 million world-wide, and the graph was showing a horrifying exponential growth of cases. When I saw this, a question popped-into my head: when will it hit 2 million? (spoiler: it took only 13 days to go from 1 million to 2 million)

When will it infect 4 million? 8 million? 100 million? 1 billion? 50% of the population on Earth?

I searched-and-searched, but I couldn't find a website that was extrapolating the COVID-19 dataset daily to predict the future spread of the virus, so I decided to build one myself.


. . . → Read More: Introducing Coviz.org

Michael Altfield's gravatar

Hardening Guide for phpList

phpList Hardening Guide Featured Image

This post will outline recommended steps to harden phpList after install to make it reasonably secure.

phpList is the most popular open-source software for managing mailing lists. Like wordpress, they have a phplist.com for paid hosting services and phplist.org for free self-hosting.

Earlier this week, it was announced that phpList had a critical security vulnerability permitting an attacker to bypass authentication and login as an administrator using an incorrect & carefully-crafted password in some cases. This bug is a result of the fact that [a] PHP is a loosely typed language and [b] the phpList team was using the '==' operator to test for equality of the user's hashed password against the DB. This security pitfall has been known in PHP since at least 2010 (a decade ago!), but I'm sure the same mistake will be made again..

Indeed, security is porous. There's no such thing as 100% vulnerability-free code, and phpList is no exception. But if we're careful in adding layers of security to our infrastructure, then we might be able to protect ourselves from certain 0-days.

That said, here's my recommended steps to making your phpList install reasonably secure.


. . . → Read More: Hardening Guide for phpList

Michael Altfield's gravatar

Introducing BusKill: A Kill Cord for your Laptop

Bus Kill: A USB Kill Cord for your Laptop

This post will introduce a simple udev rule and ~$20 in USB hardware that effectively implements a kill cord Dead Man Switch to trigger your machine to self-destruct in the event that you're kicked out of the helm position.

Rubber Ducky I <3 you; you make hack time lots of fun!

Let's consider a scenario: You're at a public location (let's say a cafe) while necessarily authenticated into some super important service (let's say online banking). But what if--after you've carefully authenticated--someone snatch-and-runs with your laptop?

Maybe you can call your bank to freeze your accounts before they've done significant financial harm. Maybe you can't.

Or maybe your laptop was connected to your work VPN. In less than 60 seconds and with the help of a rubber ducky, the thief could literally cause millions of dollars in damages to your organization.

Surely there must be some solution to trigger your computer to lock, shutdown, or self-destruct when it's physically separated from you! There is: I call it BusKill.


. . . → Read More: Introducing BusKill: A Kill Cord for your Laptop

Michael Altfield's gravatar

Mitigating Poisoned PGP Certificates (CVE-2019-13050)

Cert Flooding Featured Image

This article will describe PGP Certificate Flooding attacks as well as inform the reader

How to detect if you have a poisoned certificate in your keyring, How to identify & clean the poisoned cert, and How to update the configuration to prevent it from importing poisoned certs in the future

Last month, an attacker spammed several high-profile PGP certificates with tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of signatures (CVE-2019-13050) and uploaded these signatures to the SKS keyservers.

Without looking very deep, I quickly stumbled on 4 keys that were attacked last month:


. . . → Read More: Mitigating Poisoned PGP Certificates (CVE-2019-13050)

Michael Altfield's gravatar

Ephemeral Firefox as a Site-Specific Browser (3/3)

Site-Specific Ephemeral Firefox featured image showing a firewall between the facebook and firefox icons

This article is a part 3/3 of a series describing how to setup an Ephemeral Firefox session as a Site-Specific Browser. The ultimate goal is to be able to have a self-destructing browsing session that can only access a single company's services, such as Google or Facebook.

Part 1/3: Ephemeral Firefox in Ubuntu Part 2/3: Ephemeral Firefox with Extensions Part 3/3: Ephemeral Firefox as a Site-Specific Browser

After setting up the Site-Specific Ephemeral Firefox Browser, you can then blacklist services designated to your Site-Specific browser(s) (such as Google or Facebook) from your main browser. This significantly improves your ability to browse the internet without your activity being tracked by these companies -- leaving your sensitive data vulnerable to being stolen by hackers.


. . . → Read More: Ephemeral Firefox as a Site-Specific Browser (3/3)