Featured Articles

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

Introducing Coviz

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

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)

Michael Altfield's gravatar

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.

Part 1/3: Ephemeral Firefox in Ubuntu Part 2/3: Ephemeral Firefox with Extensions Part 3/3: Ephemeral Firefox as a Site-Specific Browser
. . . → Read More: Ephemeral Firefox with Extensions (2/3)

Michael Altfield's gravatar

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.

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

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)

Michael Altfield's gravatar

How to check Whonix version in Qubes

Whonix 14 just came out last month. I went to update, but I couldn't figure out what version I was currently running. The documentation said to run this command, but the output didn't make sense when I ran it on my whonix-gw TemplateVM.

. . . → Read More: How to check Whonix version in Qubes

Michael Altfield's gravatar

fix phplist 500 error due to random_compat

So you've just done a fresh install of phplist, but when you attempt to load it in your browser, you get a 500 Internal Server Error. But the error log is empty! It's possible that phplist is suppressing the errors produced by the included library random_compat. This blog post will describe this possible issue, and how to resolve it.

. . . → Read More: fix phplist 500 error due to random_compat