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.

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.

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Detect outgoing port blocking with nmap and portquiz.net

This post will describe how to detect if your network is blocking outgoing ports. In this test, we’ll be using nmap and the fine website portquiz.net

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Detecting Censorship or ISP Network Tampering with OONI

This article will introduce a tool to detect censorship or network tampering using the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) android app, which is part of the Tor Project.

The OONI project’s mission is to collect data on network providers to determine where the Internet is free and where it’s being manipulated. For example, the OONI Explorer displays a world map of such data.

On the OONI explorer, you can drill-down on the world map into a specific country to get a list of websites that were detected as being blocked from within that country.

For example, when I looked at the history of OONI probe runs within the US, I saw a list of the usual suspects: gambling sites, pornography sites, torrenting sites, etc. More surprising (at least to me) was the number of pastebin sites that were banned. And, despicably, there was a network in the US blocking The Internet Archive

When I looked at the data from scans within another great “free country” = India, I saw a lot of cherry-picked censorship on facebook and news articles as it relates to the 2017 genocide of Rohingya Refugees in Burma and various muslim/hindu conflicts.

. . . → Read More: Detecting Censorship or ISP Network Tampering with OONI

Bypassing Check Point firewall DPI Tor-blocking

This article will describe how to bypass censorship from within any network that uses firewalls using Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) built by the Israeli software company Check Point Software Technologies Ltd, such as is being used by the Miami-Dade’s Public Library System to censor on their public wifi.

I’ve been very fortunate to live in a country where freedom of speech is a well-protected human right and censorship is generally unaccepted. But, I’ve long been aware that many States prefer to assert their control over their citizens by controlling their available information. One of the shining achievements from the Tor Project is a system that allows these unfortunate souls to be able to bypass these censors and access the unfettered Internet. Indeed, the UN affirmed that a State’s attempt to prevent or disrupt dissemination of information online is a violation of international human rights law, as defined by article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Of course, many States today continue to ban access to the Tor network. In response, Tor provided hidden entry-points called bridge relays that are harder to block. In response to Tor bridges, States purchased firewalls from companies like Check Point to analyze the
. . . → Read More: Bypassing Check Point firewall DPI Tor-blocking

HPKP Best Practices for Let’s Encrypt

This post describes how to generate a few backup public key hashes to add to your HTTP Public Key Pinning (HPKP) config that might save you from bricking your domain if Let’s Encrypt ever gets untrusted like StartCom did.

If you have a healthy distrust of the X.509 PKI trust model, then you’ve probably heard of HPKP (and probably also HSTS & CAA). Website certificate pinning was a trend first started by google, who hard-coded a pin of their certificates in their Chrome browser. Eventually, google helped build a more standardized pinning method under RFC 7469. And today, it’s supported by Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

Pinning is a great TOFU improvement to https, but–if misconfigured–you could “brick” your domain–making it so that your client’s browsers will refuse to let them access your site for months or years (interestingly, this has also caused some security experts to think of how HPKP could be abused in ransom-ware). Therefore, it’s a good idea to follow a few HPKP Best Practices.

. . . → Read More: HPKP Best Practices for Let’s Encrypt

Howto Guide: Whole House VPN with Ubiquiti + Cryptostorm (netflix safe!)

This post will describe what hardware to buy & how to configure it so that you have 2 wireless networks in your house: One that seamlessly forces all of the traffic on that network through a VPN–and one that connects to the Internet normally . When finished, the internet activity for any device connected to the first network will be entirely encrypted so that the ISP cannot see which websites are visited*, what software you use, and what information you send & receive on the internet.

* Assuming your config doesn’t leak DNS; see improvements section

Update 2017-08-25: Added “kill switch” firewall rule that prevents LAN traffic from escaping to the ISP unless it passed through the VPN’s vtun0 interface first. Following this change, if the VPN connection is down, the internet will not be accessible (as desired) over the ‘home’ wifi network (without this, the router bypasses the VPN by sending the packets straight to the ISP–giving a false sense of privacy).


In April 2017, Trump signed Bill S.J.Res.34, which repeals the Broadband Consumer Privacy Proposal from October 2016. This enormous step backwards permits anyone’s ISP to sell their Internet activity. The EFF put it best:

. . . → Read More: Howto Guide: Whole House VPN with Ubiquiti + Cryptostorm (netflix safe!)

Let’s Encrypt!

Finally, this website is (only) accessible over https!

UCF Wifi in Ubuntu

This month (September 2011), UCF officially killed the “UCF” SSID to be replaced by “UCF_WPA” and “UCF_WPA2.” Configuring Ubuntu Linux to connect to the UCF WPA2 network is neither trivial nor documented by UCF.

To aid other UCF Ubuntu users, I created a Wireless article on the unofficial UCF wiki. This includes links to the official UCF certificates and instructions on how to connect to the UCF_WPA2 network in Ubuntu.

UCF Wifi Rant

While I frustratingly waited to connect to the UCF Wifi after a recent change to their system, I typed up the following email complaint to the UCF DoIT Manager. If *you* have also had issues with unstable/dropped connections, slow bandwidth, latency, or the inability to connect to the UCF Wifi, I urge you to also contact the UCF Department of Information Technology via:

cst@ucf.edu = General bob.yanckello@ucf.edu = Bob Yanckello (UCF Chief Technology Officer) lou.garcia@ucf.edu = Lou Garcia (UCF Network Manager [responsible for wireless services]) chrisv@mail.ucf.edu = Chris Vakhordjian (Information Security Office) tim.larson@ucf.edu = Tim Larson (ERP Consultant) jim.ennis@ucf.edu = Jim Ennis (Enterprise Systems & Operations) andy.hulsey@ucf.edu = Andy Hulsey (Telecommunications [includes Network Services]) aaron.streimish@ucf.edu = Aaron Streimish (Project Performance & Management Office)

Email below

While I understand the benefit of encrypted wireless communications, UCF’s decision to require all student wireless clients to use WPA without preparing to sufficiently upgrade the wireless infrastructure has rendered the UCF Wifi *unusable*.

Allow me to provide a brief log of my Internet Experience this afternoon (2011-09-15).

12:02 – attempt to connect to WiFi – fail for 9 minutes 12:11 – connected 12:11 – google ’email ucf department of information technology’ 12:12 – disconnected
. . . → Read More: UCF Wifi Rant

My Search for The Best MP3 Player

I’m going on another cross-country cycling trip this summer, and I’m in the market for a good, solid MP3 player.

Disclaimer: I’m a software guy who likes my devices to be good quality and long lasting. I’m by no means an audiophile, hardware tech, or professional MP3 player reviewer. All of my research was done using Google, and the only MP3 player I’ve owned is the Sansa e260 v2.


Note: These are my personal requirements. They effectively eliminated a *lot* of products in the MP3 market.

1. Rockbox Support

First and foremost, I need rockbox support. Rockbox is a must-have FOSS firmware for MP3 players with a fantastic feature list. You can buy an MP3 player with terrific hardware design, but your experience can be absolutely ruined by poorly designed firmware. My old Sansa e260 was this way, but once I installed rockbox, it was like the device was freed from a software prison. And, of course–another benefit of it being open source–you can completely customize the look+feel of your MP3 player with other user’s custom rockbox themes.

Here is a list of MP3 players (targets) and their support status for the Rockbox firmware.

2. Rugged Components that
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