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.

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

Ephemeral Firefox with Extensions (2/3)

icon of ephemeral firefox with icons of popular extensions below it

I recently posted about how to create a sandboxed firefox profile to compartmentalize (and shred) your firefox browsing history in an Ephemeral Firefox session. But so far I’ve only covered how to create a simple vanilla firefox profile. What if you want your Ephemeral Firefox to include a few basic extensions?

This post will cover how to add extensions to your Ephemeral Firefox profile.

. . . → Read More: Ephemeral Firefox with Extensions (2/3)

Ephemeral Firefox in Ubuntu (1/3)

ephemeral firefox

This post will describe how to create an Ephemeral Firefox session. The ultimate goal of an Ephemeral Firefox session is to unlink your browsing sessions day-to-day and reduce tracking via fingerprinting.

This technique can also be used to compartmentalize your internet activity by using the Ephemeral Firefox session as a Site Specific Browser. This can be especially useful for websites that are infamous for tracking users across the internet and selling the data they collect. For example, you can blacklist all facebook domains in your main browser and only use Ephemeral Firefox sessions that have been whitelisted exclusively for facebook domains–effectively compartmentalizing your facebook activity from the rest of your internet activity.

Another great use-case for an Ephemeral Firefox is for public access computers such as those at libraries, hotels, and printing shops.

. . . → Read More: Ephemeral Firefox in Ubuntu (1/3)

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

. . . → Read More: Detect outgoing port blocking with nmap and portquiz.net

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

New Thumb Drive Encryption Procedure

In this article, I’ll describe a procedure for preparing a brand-new USB flash drive for use. First we’ll securely erase all the data on the drive, then we’ll encrypt the entire drive, and–finally–we’ll check the drive for bad blocks.

Ah, remember the good-ole days of spinning disks? When your OS could tell your hard *disk* to shred a specific sector? Like it or not, those days are gone in the land of USB flash volumes.

There’s a lot of great reads on the complications of securely erasing data on a USB thumb drive. Unfortunately, a lot of the techniques are not universal to all technologies or manufacturers. Consequently, my approach is more ignorant, straight-forward, and broad (at the risk of causing these cheap usb drives to fail sooner & the process taking longer):

First, I make sure never to write any unencrytped data to the disk Second, when I want to wipe the disk, I fill it entirely with random data

Below are the commands that I use to prepare a new usb drive for my use immediately after purchase. These commands are presented as a rough guide; they’re mostly idempotent, but you probably want to copy & paste them
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How to check the Public Key Algorithm used for a given gpg key (ie: RSA vs DSA)

Today I discovered how to validate the Public Key Algorithm that’s used for a given gpg key. Unfortunately, it’s extremely unintuitive & took quite a bit of digging to figure out how. So I’m leaving this here in hopes it helps someone in their future searches.

. . . → Read More: How to check the Public Key Algorithm used for a given gpg key (ie: RSA vs DSA)

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!)