Why Go is not my favourite language

2013-10-25, Categories: coding

  1. Go has exceptions and return values for error

    Yes it does. Yes, it really really does.

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GPG and SSH with Yubikey NEO

2013-02-28, Categories: security, unix, hsm

I'm a big fan of hardware tokens for access. The three basic technologies where you have public key crypto are SSH, GPG and SSL. Here I will show how to use a Yubikey NEO to protect GPG and SSH keys so that they cannot be stolen or copied. (well, they can be physically stolen, of course).

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Plug computer for always-on VPN

2013-02-09, Categories: security, network, unix

Last time I was at a hacker conference I for obvious reasons didn't want to connect to the local network. It's not just a matter of setting up some simple firewall rules, since the people around you are people who have and are inventing new and unusual attacks. Examples of this would be rogue IPv6 RA and NDs, and people who have actually generated their own signed root CAs. There's also the risk (or certainty) of having all your unencrypted traffic sniffed and altered.

For next time I've prepared a SheevaPlug computer I had laying around. I updated it to a modern Debian installation, added a USB network card, and set it up to provide always-on VPN. This could also be done using a raspberry pi, but I don't have one.

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Compiling C++ statically

2013-01-14, Categories: coding

To properly compile a static C++ binary on Linux you have to supply -static, -static-libgcc and -static-libstdc++ when linking.

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Interesting Arping bug report

2012-10-05, Categories: unix, coding, network, arping

A few months ago I was strolling in the Debian bug tracking system and found a curious bug filed against Arping, a program I maintain.

It said that unlike Arping 2.09, in Arping 2.11 the ARP cache was not updated after successful reply. I thought that was odd, since there's no code to touch the ARP cache, neither read nor write. Surely this behaviour hasn't changed?

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Shared libraries diamond problem

2012-05-19, Categories: unix, coding

If you split up code into different libraries you can get a diamond dependency problem. That is you have two parts of your code that depend on different incompatible versions of the same library.

Normally you shouldn't get in this situation. Only someone who hates their users makes a non backwards compatible change to a library ABI. You don't hate your users, do you?

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Be careful with hashmaps

2012-02-07, Categories: security, coding

As you remember from long ago hashes are O(1) best case, but can be O(n) if you get hash collisions. And if you're adding n new entries that means O(n^2).

I thought I'd take a look at the hash_set/hash_map GNU C++ extension.

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Benchmarking TPM-backed SSL

2012-02-05, Categories: security, network, tpm, hsm


As you can plainly see from this graph, my TPM chip can do approximately 1.4 SSL handshakes per second. A handshake takes about 0.7 seconds of TPM time, so when two clients are connecting the average connect time is 1.4 seconds. This means probably not useful on server side, but should be good for some client side applications.

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TPM-backed SSL

2012-02-04, Categories: security, network, coding, tpm, hsm

This is a short howto on setting up TPM-backed SSL. This means that the secret key belonging to an SSL cert is protected by the TPM and cannot be copied off of the machine or otherwise inspected.

Meaning even if you get hacked the attackers cannot impersonate you, if you manage to kick them off or just shut down the server. The secret key is safe. It has never been outside the TPM and never will be.

This can be used for both client and server certs.

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Secure browser-to-proxy communication

2011-12-27, Categories: security, network

When connecting to a possibly hostile network I want to tunnel all traffic from my browser to some proxy I have set up on the Internet.

The obvious way to do this is with a proxy. The problem with that is that the traffic from the browser to the proxy is not encrypted. Even when you browse to secure SSL sites some traffic is being sent in the clear, such as the host name. That's not so bad, but I want to hide my HTTP traffic too.

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