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)

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)

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

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)

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).

Update 2021-02-01: Fixed GitHub URL of cryptostorm's free OpenVPN configuration file Update 2021-02-14: Fixed GitHub URL of cryptostorm's paid OpenVPN configuration file

Update: I wrote this guide in 2017. It's intended for an audience that has
. . . → Read More: Howto Guide: Whole House VPN with Ubiquiti + Cryptostorm (netflix safe!)

pycurl through Tor without leaking DNS lookups

This article describes the correct way to use pycurl over Tor, such that both DNS lookup data and HTTP(S) traffic is sent through Tor's SOCKS5 proxy.

If you google "pycurl tor", one of the first results is a stackoverflow post that describes how to configure pycurl using the pycurl.PROXYTYPE_SOCKS5 setting. Indeed, even the tutorial To Russia With Love on the Tor Project's Official Website describes how to pass pycurl through Tor using the pycurl.PROXYTYPE_SOCKS5 setting.

However, using pycurl.PROXYTYPE_SOCKS5 will leak DNS queries associated with your HTTP requests outside of the Tor network! Instead you should use pycurl.PROXYTYPE_SOCKS5_HOSTNAME.

The --socks5-hostname argument was added to libcurl v7.26.0. The pycurl.PROXYTYPE_SOCKS5_HOSTNAME argument wasn't added to pycurl until pycurl v7.19.5.1, which (at the time of writing) was less than 2 months ago!

This article will describe how to install pycurl v7.19.5.1 onto the latest version of TAILS at the time of writing, which is TAILS v1.2.3.


. . . → Read More: pycurl through Tor without leaking DNS lookups

Smooth Wall

I've wanted to setup a serious linux-based firewall for my home network for some time now, and I finally got around to it yesterday.

There are TON of linux router distros out there, but instead of spending 8 hours picking & choosing, comparing & contrasting, nitpicking & debating, I asked someone else ;). Two buddies of mine have a similar setup at their homes: one uses Smooth Wall; one uses IPCop. I arbitrarily chose Smooth Wall (after actually setting it up, though, I think IPCop would have been a better choice--c'est la vie.

The installation is supposed to be quite painless, and it was--for the most part. The documentation and install process was intuitive and easy to follow, but it didn't work OOTB. I probably only had so much difficulty because of hardware issues (fried NICs?) which is by no means Smooth Wall's fault. Nevertheless, it took ~5 hours of bang-your-head-against-the-table troubleshooting 'till I could finally unhook the monitor & keyboard, shove it in a corner, and get some sleep.

I was also disappointed with two things that didn't work as I had expected OOTB:

DHCP DNS VPN
. . . → Read More: Smooth Wall