Featured Articles

Nightmare on Lemmy Street (A Fediverse GDPR Horror Story)
Continuous Documentation: Hosting Read the Docs on GitHub Pages (2/2)
Introducing BusKill: A Kill Cord for your Laptop
WordPress Profiling with XHProf (Debugging & Optimizing Speed)
WordPress Multisite on the Darknet (Mercator .onion alias)
Detecting (Malicious) Unicode in GitHub PRs
Crowdfunding on Crowd Supply (Review of my experience)
Trusted Boot (Anti-Evil-Maid, Heads, and PureBoot)
Hardening Guide for phpList
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Michael Altfield's gravatar

Nightmare on Lemmy Street (A Fediverse GDPR Horror Story)

Nightmare on Lemmy "A Fediverse GDPR Horror Story"

This article will describe how lemmy instance admins can purge images from pict-rs (click here if you just want to know how).

This is (also) a horror story about accidentally uploading very sensitive data to Lemmy, and the (surprisingly) difficult task of deleting it.

Intro

tl;dr I (accidentally) uploaded a photo of my State-issued ID to Lemmy, and I couldn't delete it.

Friends don't let friends compose jerboa comments in bed before coffee (@theyshane)

A few weeks ago I woke up to my 06:00 AM alarm, snoozed my phone, rubbed my eyes, and started reading /c/worldnews (on Lemmy).

Still half-asleep, I was typing a comment when my thumb accidentally hit the "upload media" button. Up popped a gallery of images. I tried to click the back button, but I missed. I tapped on a photo. The photo that I tapped-on was a KYC selfie image (that I took the previous day for a service that has no business having such PII anyway).

That was all it took -- two consecutive mis-taps while half-asleep in bed, and my dumb-ass just inadvertently uploaded a KYC selfie onto the public internet. And thanks to archaic State authentication systems, anyone with
. . . → Read More: Nightmare on Lemmy Street (A Fediverse GDPR Horror Story)

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Guide to Finding Lemmy Communities (Subreddits)

How To Find Lemmy Communities

This article will show reddit refugees how to easily search-for and subscribe-to to popular lemmy subreddits communities across all lemmy instances.

tl;dr use the Lemmy Community Browser https://browse.feddit.de/ Intro

Lemmy is a federated reddit alternative that started in 2019. Thanks to funding from NLNet, Open Collective, Patreon, and Librapay, the project has two full-time developers.

Unlike Reddit, all of Lemmy's code is open-source under the AGPL.

Context

In 2008, Reddit launched an API that allowed third-party clients to use Reddit. This API has been free for 14 years.

In April 2023, Reddit announced that they would begin charging for use of their API, starting just 3-months later. This made headlines when one developer calculated that reddit's proposed fee structure would cost them $20 million per year. As a result, most popular reddit apps including Apollo, RIF, ReddPlanet, and Sync are all shutting down in July.

In protest, hundreds thousands of subreddits are participating in a reddit blackout on June 12th.

At the time of writing, all the apps still work and protest hasn't even started yet, but already thousands of reddit refugees have flocked to lemmy -- at a rate of about 2,000 new users per day. And because
. . . → Read More: Guide to Finding Lemmy Communities (Subreddits)

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Trusted Boot (Anti-Evil-Maid, Heads, and PureBoot)

Verifying Boot Integrity with Heads, PureBoot

This post will help to provide historical context and demystify what's under the hood of Heads, PureBoot, and other tools to provide Trusted Boot.

I will not be presenting anything new in this article; I merely hope to provide a historical timeline and a curated list of resources.

Intro

The Librem Key cryptographically verifies the system's integrity and flashes red if it's detected tampering

I've always felt bad about two things:

Because I run QubesOS, I usually disable "Secure Boot" on my laptop I travel a lot, and I don't have a good way to verify the integrity of my laptop (eg from an Evil Maid that gains physical access to my computer)

To address this, I have turned to Heads and PureBoot -- a collection of technologies including an open-source firmware/BIOS, TPM, and a USB security key that can cryptographically verify the integrity of the lowest firmware (and up the chain to the OS).

While Purism has written many articles about PureBoot and has some (minimal) documentation, I found they did a lot of hand waving without explaining how the technology works (what the hell is a "BIOS measurement"?). So I spent a great deal of
. . . → Read More: Trusted Boot (Anti-Evil-Maid, Heads, and PureBoot)

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Crowdfunding on Crowd Supply (Review of my experience)

Crowd Supply Review - My experience crowdfunding $18,507 in open-source security hardware

In 2021, I raised $18,507 on CrowdSupply to manufacture and sell the BusKill cable. This article will review my experience working with Crowd Supply.

Introduction

So you have a great idea for a cool product, but you're not sure how to scrap up the necessary funds to ramp-up production and sell it? If you're a traditional capitalist then you'd be considering financing your new entrepreneurial venture through loans or venture capital.

But you're not a capitalist. You want to avoid the fat cats draining equity from your hard labor. Your idea is so cool, why not try your hand at crowdfunding direct from your soon-to-be customers?

Why Crowd Supply?

The first place I looked was Kickstarter. But I did some googling, and I saw so many people complain that they backed a project on kickstarter and never received anything from the creator. In fact, Kickstarter's own Fulfillment Report says that 9% of all their projects fail to deliver.

And, especially in the computer security department, if anyone with half a brain scans through the projects on kickstarter, even the ones that raise $1 million scream SCAM! Either their promises are unrealistic, they clearly have no idea what they're talking
. . . → Read More: Crowdfunding on Crowd Supply (Review of my experience)

Michael Altfield's gravatar

WordPress Profiling with XHProf (Debugging & Optimizing Speed)

Debugging & Optimizing Wordpress Speed with XHProf

This guide will show you how to generate and view XHProf reports of your WordPress Site.

This is useful so you can drill-down and see exactly how many microseconds each of your scripts and functions (themes & plugins) are running when generating a page -- slowing down your website visitors' page load speed.


. . . → Read More: WordPress Profiling with XHProf (Debugging & Optimizing Speed)

Michael Altfield's gravatar

Detecting (Malicious) Unicode in GitHub PRs

Detecting Malicious Unicode in GitHub Pull Requests

This article will describe how you can utilize GitHub Actions to scan user-contributed PRs for unicode and automatically warn you if such commits contain (potentially invisible & malicious) unicode characters.

Why

Last month Trojan Source was published --- which described how malicious unicode characters could make source code appear benign, yet compile to something quite malicious.


. . . → Read More: Detecting (Malicious) Unicode in GitHub PRs

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)